Should You Clean Your Vehicle Before Selling It?

No matter what your reasons for getting rid of your vehicle are, you’ll probably want to get the best value out of it and make sure the transaction happens quickly. Time is money, after all!

Trading it in with a dealer is an easy solution, but the price you’ll be getting could be lower by thousands of dollars. And if you choose to sell it on your own, you’ll have to compete with all the other people who are also trying to sell their car.

How can you stand out and make the process easier? The Car Guide has already written an article about tips to sell your car, but this time, we’ll talk about a very specific point: is cleaning your car before selling it worth your time?

Obviously, a clean car or truck looks much better in picture and in person. And making a good first impression is important, after all.

Photo: Ford

Car staging is basically sale preparation, like people do when they want to sell their house. In a vehicle, it implies a deep cleaning of the interior and exterior. Remove all personal objects from the cabin and trunk, and all traces of salt and dirt from the carpets; wash the windows, rims, tires and all interior surfaces with the appropriate products, and clean the engine with a degreasing agent. You can also do some paint touch-ups.

Then, a few strategic repairs might be in order: brakes, bumpers, wipers, etc. Also remember to maintain all fluid tanks to a proper level. Put yourself in the buyer’s shoes and try to see your vehicle in a different way.

Photo: Marc-André Gauthier

If you don’t want to do the work, you can always pay professionals to do it for you. The operation can make the sale of your car easier, but it will not increase its value significantly. Unless you make important repairs, the difference will be negligible, and you might not get all your money back.  

Since the current demand for used models is high and is likely to remain that way for a while, you don’t have to try as hard as before to sell or trade in your vehicle for a good amount of money.  

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