Top Tips for Preparing to Sell Your Car

by Melanie May | 7 min read     May 22nd, 2018

Have you found your dream car but need to sell your old one first? Perhaps you are trading up, downsizing or just need the cash. Well, there are plenty of things you can do to get the most money for your car.

We've put together a list of useful tips to help you get the most money when it comes to selling on your car. Following this advice will make your car look far more attractive to buyers making sure they close the deal with you and not someone else.

Get Your Car Looking Its Best

If you have the money, getting your car professionally cleaned will go a long way towards adding to its value. A full valet can cost anywhere from €50 to €150, just make sure you go to somewhere reputable with good reviews.

Karen Quinn, product manager at Halfords says that getting the professionals in for a full exterior and interior valet could see “up to £1,000 of added value, depending on the original condition of the car.” This is echoed in Ireland with a valet adding up to €1,000 to the value of your car. That is a huge return on your investment.

However, if you would prefer to clean the car yourself, here are some tips to make your car shine like new.

Starting on the Outside:

First impressions count, so it is important that the car's exterior looks its best. If you are short on time, make sure you at least put the car through a car wash on the day the buyers are due to view the car.

Better yet, roll up your sleeves and give it a good clean yourself. You can buy cleaning kits for around €25 but you can actually use baby shampoo if you don't have car cleaner. However, it really is worth investing in some sort of car paint cleaner. Using household items like washing up liquid can strip the oils and waxes from your car's paint and may leave a residue.


When it comes to dents in the bodywork and bumpers, these put off buyers, so it is worth your while fixing them. In fact, according to DentPro and FixADent getting these repaired can add 15% back on to the value of cars.

You can try and fix smaller dents yourself, there are plenty of online tutorials to show you how to do this, but larger dents should be left to the professionals. This can cost anywhere from €50 to €150.

This advice also goes for scratches on the paintwork too.

Clean the Cabin:

The inside of the car should be spotless and free from any personal items. You should also try to get rid of any unpleasant odours. There are plenty of hacks for this and we have a guide to Spring cleaning your car which will give you plenty of advice and money saving tips on how to get your car looking like new.

If the car's carpet is looking a little worse for wear, you can buy a set of car mats for €15 or less and they can really make a difference to the car's overall look and feel.

Examine the Electrics:

Make sure all the electrical items in your car are working. Buyers will check all of these and if there are any faults they will use this to bargain down the price.

Check the exterior and interior lights, wipers, mirrors, windows, radio controls, air-con, 12v, USB and AUX sockets. Get any broken bulbs and fuses fixed.

Maintain the Mechanicals:

Make sure the mechanicals are all working too. Get any dashboard warning lights fixed. If the washer fluid light is on, fill up the reservoir. If there are other mechanical issues, bring the car to a mechanic and get them looked at. You have to think about how much value these repairs are going to add to your car.


Basically, when it comes to getting your car ready for selling you need to treat it as if it were going for its NCT. Speaking of which, if your car is due its NCT consider getting a new one as a 12-month NCT certificate is very attractive to potential buyers and will make your advert stand out from the competition.

Stay Within the Limit:

However, when it comes to getting your car ready for selling, there is a limit on how much money you should spend. That limit seems to be around €250 to €300. According to Paul Normyle, founder of vehicle preparation service Shine, it is at this point where “the cost might begin to eat into what you get back. What any buyer wants to see is something that looks as though it’s been cared for,” but they’re not expecting perfection.

Prepare the Paperwork:

Make sure you have invoices for any work carried out, the car's NCT reports, service history book, the car's manual, and the vehicle registration certificate. Having all these documents to show potential buyers will let them know that the car has been well cared for, that you are a conscientious conscious seller and that everything is in order and ready to go once the sale is finalised.

If you paid for a vehicle history check before you bought the car, then have this available for the potential buyer to look through. However, it is usually up to the buyer to check the vehicle's history before handing over the money. But again, having a vehicle history check will add to your trustworthiness and hopefully help your car sell quicker. You can get a vehicle history check from

This transparency goes a long way towards putting the buyer at ease and putting you in a stronger position as a seller.

Creating the Perfect Advert:

First thing first; now that your car is spick and span, get out your camera, the one on your phone will do, just make sure you clean the lens before you start snapping.

A great photo will really help your car advert stand out, so, here's how to take a great photo of your car:
  • Photograph the car in the early morning or just before sunset as the light is softer and will help avoid harsh shadows which can make your car hard to see in the photos.
  • Photograph the car in a distraction-free location. Try to get a photo with no people or other cars in the shot. You can shoot in your driveway; just make sure the bins are out of view.
  • Photograph the car from different angles. Get a photo of the car front on, side on, three-quarters and one of the rear. Take some detail shots too.
  • Take a photo of the back seats, the boot and then lower the backs of the front seats, get into the back of the car and take a lovely shot of the dashboard.
  • If you are concerned about your privacy, don't photograph the vehicle in your driveway and use free online editing software to blackout the licence plate number. However, if you don't show the registration, buyers can't check the vehicle's history. This could make it look like you have something to hide. You then may also have to deal with loads of phone calls and emails requesting the registration number. Our advice is to photograph the car in a neutral location and leave the registration plate visible.

Writing the Advert:

You want to give the buyer as much information about the car as possible so that your advert will appear in more search results and so that you aren't bombarded with emails and phone calls at all hours with buyers asking basic questions about the car.

Make sure your advert includes the car make, model and year as well as trim level, e.g. Ford Focus Zetec, 2012.

You should also include the engine size, fuel type, gearbox type, if it is four-wheel drive, body type (saloon, hatchback etc.), number of doors and seats, colour, mileage, when the NCT runs out, the car's tax band and when the tax is up, if there is any time left on the warranty and service history.

In the description, use bullet points to highlight its unique selling points. Does it have low mileage? What material is on the seats? Why are you selling it? Buyers always like to know this one.

Valuing Your Car:

You need to search online for cars similar to yours and work out the average price. You can also use free online tools to help with this. But, remember, buyers also use these tools, so they will know roughly what your car is worth.

Your price needs to be competitive and not put buyers off, but buyers will always see the price listed as negotiable.

On your advert, do not put Price on Application or 'POA' as it can put buyers off. They want to know if they can afford your car or not and again, you will get loads of emails or phone calls asking for the price.

You can put a ballpark figure and let people know you are open to negotiations by saying 'or near offer (ONO).

Meeting potential buyers:

Keep safety in mind when meeting potential buyers and always arrange a time and place that suits you and that you are comfortable with. Make sure the meeting location is public and well-lit.

If you are going to allow buyers to test drive the car, you need to make sure your insurance covers this. Are other driver's insured to drive your car? If so, are there stipulations? What if they are learner drivers or don't have their own motor insurance?

If you are going to let someone test drive the car, ask them to bring over their driver's licence and insurance policy that shows that they are covered to drive other vehicles.

Bring a friend along to help with the sale and for support.

However, you also need to remember that the buyer may also have concerns about meeting you, especially if they are bringing cash.

Never hand over the keys to your car until you have received payment in full.

Use a bank draft for large amounts and always verify the bank draft with the issuing bank before handing over the goods, either by calling the bank or visiting a branch.

If you follow this advice, you should have an easy time of selling your car and you should get a good price for your car. Just remember to use common sense when selling and to advertise your car for sale across different platforms. The more places you advertise your car the better chance you have of selling it!


Information correct as of date of publishing. This blog will not be updated or edited so the information may become outdated.

Melanie May
Journalist @thejournal_ie & @CompleteCar | Social Media & Digital Marketing Manager | Travel Blogger | Food Writer & Judge