Get Your Used Car in Shape... To Sell! (part 2)

February 11, 2010

In Part one of this series, I introduced the idea that selling your used car in this market is about taking car of the details.  As the seller, its your job to remove all of a buyers potential objection to buying your car.  Lets talk about what it is you need to do to get your car ready.

Preparing a Used Car for Selling Basics

The best time to start preparing your car for sale is the day you get the keys.  I know, it's a little late to be telling you that now, so follow these tips with your next new car:

  • Keep all maintenance records and inspection reports with your owner's manual so your car has a paper trail when it comes time to sell;
  • Do all of the maintenance required by the manufacturer (on time) so you can sell your vehicle in "excellent condition".  If you slack on the maintenance, you will pay for it in the end;
  • Drive the car as if you are ready to sell it now.  This does not mean you have to completely baby it (unless you want to).  By this I simply mean you should keep it clean, polished and waxed, and stay on top of the basic routine maintenance.  It also helps if you treat your car with some respect when driving and parking.
Classic Used Car for SaleWhen it comes time to sell your used car, preparation is nothing more than putting everything in order for inspection by the buyer.  If you fail a used car shopper's inspection, you don't get the sale.  Its that simple.

On the other hand, if your use car is properly prepared, it will be easier to advertise, it will sell faster, and it will command a higher resale value.  If you don't care about the value of your used car at resale, slacking on maintenance and care is okay.  After all, it's only money.

If you are among the majority of people who don't meticulously maintain their car, don't fret.  It's not difficult to recondition (as dealers would say) your vehicle.  The benefits of doing the reconditioning work are many, and the drawbacks are few (a few hours of your time and a few dollars).

In Part 3 I'm going to show you how you can think like a used car buyer so you can get the sale faster.


David Bynon is an automotive industry blogger, online community builder, computer science author, and co-author of multiple patents for car care products.  Founder and former owner of the Autopia forum, Bynon loves finely detailed vehicles of all makes and vintage.  You can tune-in to his blog at or follow him on

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