How to Increase the Value of Your Car

June 4th, 2015 by

If you’re concerned about boosting the value of your car, you’re likely planning to sell it sooner than later and want the best return on your investment.

Right, because the whole point of selling a car is to turn a profit.

The trick here is the investment part and the investment part comes in easy, simple, and often inexpensive opportunities like getting an oil change in Cincinnati.

You have to invest in your car before you sell it, if you want to get the highest return through its sale.

It’s easier and more affordable than you think.

Clean Up Your Act!


We all know that first impressions are everything and we only get one chance at making just the right kind of impression, in this case, the impression that results in the exchange of money.

Your car will make an impression on potential buyers that will not only reveal itself, but also you, as its trustworthy and hopefully soon-to-be-previous owner.

The condition of your car, no matter how old or how many miles you’ve racked up, reflects how well you’ve cared for it during the time you’ve owned it.

No one wants to buy a car that looks like Pig Pen from Peanuts has been driving it.

So, if you can spot visible stains, rips, or scratches on the upholstery, take care of those immediately.

Clean up the stains as best you can, repair any rips or scratches in the upholstery or elsewhere in the cabin, in order to demonstrate a commitment to cleanliness.

A note of caution, however: do not use household cleaners for any of these automotive cleaning tasks, with the exception of products like Windex glass cleaner for your car’s windows.

You’ll want to invest in proper automotive cleaning supplies, like Armor All, which can be purchased at auto supply stores for a reasonable price.

Depending on the interior wear and tear, overall, you might need to actually make some replacements.

If you cannot remove stains or you’ve got holes in the floormats, for example, spend the extra bucks – and it won’t be many – to replace the floor mats before showing your car to potential buyers.

Make sure all the hard surfaces are wiped down and free of dust, old coffee spills, and anything else that might leave a sticky or greasy residue.

Look at it this way.

If you were selling your house, wouldn’t you take the time to make sure everything inside looked tip top before allowing strangers to roam through and assess its value?

No matter what your home, or in this case, your car is actually worth, if it looks dingy and dirty, its perceived value will plummet in the eyes of those potential buyers.

But, depending on the state of your car, and how motivated you are as a seller, you might want to skip the do-it-yourself cleaning routine, especially if you weren’t very good at it in the first place, and instead pay to have your car detailed.

Detailing is just fancy auto-speak for maniacal cleaning by obsessed experts.

If you’re a smoker, professional detailing is likely your only hope of ridding the car of stale smoke smells.

Even if you’re not a smoker, air out your car or invest in air freshening products to cleanse the car of old fast-food, coffee, or gym bag odors.

Any musty or moldy smells will also turn your prospective buyer away.

A thorough cleaning, either by yourself or an expert service, will likely address the majority of any odor issues, but take extra steps if need be.

Assess the state of your car and make the call if you want to make this sale count.

What’s that old saying again…beauty is in the eye of the beholder?


Spruce up your whip before you even think about selling it.

Exterior Impressions


Whether we should or not, we have all judged a book by its cover.

While that may not be a reliable way to assess its actual worth, it can be when it comes to cars.

Although you spend more time inside of your car and want the interior to be clean, comfortable, and odor-free, you also want to tool around in a car that looks good to passers-by.

Just because your potential buyers are in the market for a used car doesn’t mean they want something that looks used.

And, with dealerships increasingly offering better used inventories, and extra coverage for certified pre-owned cars, as a private seller, you are facing some serious competition.

So, inspect the exterior of your car for scratches, dings, and dents.

Most small scratches can be buffed and polished away, revealing a smooth, shiny surface beneath.

What if the entire surface looks kind of sad?

Don’t invest in an expensive paint job. That’s too much of an investment when it comes to selling your used car.

What you want to do is channel your inner Karate Kid and get to waxing on and waxing off like it’s your job.

Wax and polish the entire exterior surface and you’ll be left with a much cleaner, smoother look overall.

Now, when it comes to dents, do pay to have those fixed by a professional.

It’s worth it when it comes to the final sale.

Your buyer will likely have seen a few other used cars that were not prepped for sale as thoroughly, which will make your car automatically stand out, because you’ve taken the steps to ensure that your used car exceeds your buyer’s likely low expectations when it comes to a used car’s appearance.

Now that you’ve addressed the superficial, yet crucial, cosmetic qualities of your car, inside and out, it’s time to move on to mechanical matters.

Function Over Form


Although you want your car to look as fresh, clean, and new as you can possibly make it, you also need to ensure that it’s parts are working properly.

If they’re not, you need to fix them.

Even if you think these small fixes are just as easily done by whomever purchases your car, you need to remember that the condition and overall upkeep of your car reveals as much about you as a car owner committed to proper car maintenance and repair as it does about your car.

Purchasing a used car is already risky business.

No one wants to roll the dice on a car from an owner who appears to have played fast and loose with the car’s recommended upkeep.

Check for small things first – even these small details can translate as big telltale signs of how well you took care of this car.

Are the lights burned out?

If so, replace them.

Do the light covers look dirty, dingy, and splattered with guts and mosquito remains?

Clean those up with the proper product so that they are as close as can be to their original pristine state as they were right off the assembly line.

The trick here is making your old car look as close to new as possible – the automotive version of an extreme makeover.

Review the panels on your dashboard.

Are any of the lights illuminated, indicating that the engine or fluid levels need attention?

If so, see if you can address them yourself, if it’s something as simple as topping off the windshield wiper fluid.

Or, if you do your own oil changes, make sure you’ve done one recently so that the car is good to go.

Anything beyond that requires a quick inspection by your mechanic.

If the costs to fix, and therefore turn off those lights, are minimal, schedule the service or services to be done.

But, if the costs are considerable, weigh your options and give prospective buyers the honest take on what needs to be repaired.

The Proof is in the Paperwork


No matter how conscientious you’ve been when it comes to your car’s routine scheduled maintenance and required repairs, you need to be able to prove this to your prospective buyer.

Present each interested buyer with your folder of receipts and service records, evidence that the maintenance you claim to have kept up with, has in fact been done.

Unfortunately, without such proof, most buyers will still be leery of making the purchase.

So back up the work you’ve done and the commitment you’ve made to your car’s condition by providing the paper trail as proof.

Similar to your own health, when it comes to extending the life of your vehicle and enhancing its overall value, preventative steps, supported by meticulous records, should yield the best return.