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How to Prepare Your Car to Be Sold

So, you’ve decided to sell your car! It’s a pretty good move in the current climate. Costs are going up all over, and the pandemic has made work more flexible for many people leaving many with a surplus of family cars. Whatever your reason for selling, one thing remains true throughout: you have to take all the necessary steps to prepare your car to be sold.

If you’re unsure what steps are required for this, then fear not. We’ve prepared the following list of tasks that car owners will all invariably have to perform before a sale is completed. We will try to keep tasks as general as possible to cover all possible selling scenarios, including those who pursue a hassle-free online dealer-auction option like the CarTradeGo app.

1. Finishing Repairs

  • Any outstanding repairs on the vehicle need to be completed for you to secure the best-possible price. Virtually no-one wants a fixer-upper.

Unless you’re selling a classic car with some serious nostalgic or other collector value, there’s very little chance anyone is going to be interested in a machine that needs hundreds or even thousands of additional dollars spent on it just to make it roadworthy after purchase. If you want to sell fast, and get a good price for the car, then you have to be ready to make any outstanding repairs before you do so.

Common issues include things like damage to the paintwork such as scratches, orange peel, paint chips/flaking and more. There’s also other physical damage such as dents, broken lights, damaged seals, worn tires, chipped windshield…the list goes on. A skilled mechanic will be able to sort these problems out for you.

There are certain repairs you might need that are far from cosmetic, such as repairing the wheel alignment and replacing brake rotors. These are areas that we assume you’ll want to declare “defect-free” when it comes to selling.

2. Up-to-Date Servicing

  • A car being sold now should have been serviced quite recently. It helps give reassurances that there are no defects and that all the basics like oil and filters are without issue.

How is this different from the previous point? We hear you ask. Well, the repairs we’re describing above are more for unexpected or accidental damage. Car servicing involves you taking the car in for its regular milestone checkups in which maintenance is done that the car requires no matter how you drive. It’s “resetting” the vehicle from its regular wear and tear.

A good set of tasks to do before selling could be putting on a new set of tires, replacing the oil and air filters, performing an oil change, having the brakes checked and serviced possibly with new brake pads and a check through on all belts and hoses, replacing any that are damaged.

If you want to add in a Safety (that’s a standard safety inspection for you non-Canadians), you could do so for further assurance, but it’s only valid for 36 calendar days so you’d have to time it right to coincide with your sale.

3. Gathering Documents

  • Any documentation and paperwork relating to your car needs to be brought together: ownership and registration documents, relevant service receipts and maintenance records, the owner’s manual, and anything else that a new owner would need.

It’s understandable if some of the documentation is hard to locate, but it’s a problem if you’ve completely lost certain documents pertaining to any vehicle you own. It should be a top habit for car owners to keep any and all official documents about their cars together in one place.

Certain missing documents can be replaced, especially any issued by a provincial or the federal government. The biggest problem to have is huge gaps in your service and maintenance records. If you can’t prove through documentation that your car has been fully serviced at all times, it could impact the final price you receive.

4. Getting the Car Detailed

  • You’ll certainly want your car looking its best before it’s sold. Regular car washes are one thing, but a professional detailing service brings a level of cleanliness that really elevates a vehicle.

It seems an easy fix just getting the car washed. You could head to a local automatic car wash and have the job done in no-time. If you’re afraid of paint scratches from dirty roller bristles, you could just use a touchless car wash. They all have one thing in common, however, which is that they’re simply too far below what you get from professional detailing.

Detailing will not just wash and dry the exterior and vacuum the interior. A proper detailing will apply wax and paint protection, will restore the headlight casings, buff out imperfections, get the alloy wheels spotless, clean out the vents, condition the leather or fabric upholstery, steam clean the carpets, remove pet smell and smoke odour…and so it goes on.

A washed car just looks clean, but a detailed car looks new. Buyers make a big part of the decision on how much they’re willing to pay according to the first visual impression they get.

5. Dealing with the Finances

  • Any outstanding debt on the car will need to be paid off before you can legally sell it. If you’ve financed your car, as many do nowadays, it’s technically the property of the finance company or other lender until you have paid it off in full.

It’s common enough to finance a car nowadays. It helps those with lower incomes or few savings to gain access to new and used cars more easily. Payments can be spread over periods up to 5 or more years in some cases, though most people try to pay off their car within 4 years.

Regardless, financing means you’re legally borrowing the car from the lender until you pay off that debt. You are merely the user of the car, not the owner. You can contact your finance company in advance of a sale and request to know how much is outstanding, or you can just check your latest statement from them.

Once you have the figure, ensure it’s paid off before you complete any sales transaction!

6. Getting an Independent Inspection

  • Even though your mechanic has looked over and fixed up any problems with the car, an added independent inspection adds a strong air of credibility to your sale, and boosts buyer confidence that the car is in good condition.

The difference between your mechanic assuring you that the car is in good condition and the strength of a report from an independent inspector is quite large. This step isn’t for your own assurance, but for that of the customer.

You are quite likely to agree with your mechanic’s assessment, because you know the mechanic. To a third party, however, it might not be enough. You and this cowboy mechanic could be in cahoots, after all.

The independent inspector is someone the third party can look up and be more confident about. These inspections are often especially designed for use in car sales and are meant to deliver more definitive peace of mind to buyers. The inspector of course shouldn’t have any affinity or professional connection to your mechanic, or to the car brand you’re selling.

7. Taking Photos

  • Whichever channel you intend to choose for selling your car, you’re sure to need a collection of at least 10 high-quality images of the car showing the exterior and interior.

Finally, then, we come to photos. Whether you sell privately through a platform like AutoTrader, or to a large auto retailer or branded dealership, or even just within your own neighbourhood, having some pictures of the car on hand is never going to be a bad idea. Wherever you end up posting them, they will provide buyers with the critical online first impression.

It’s important that you take time to get the photos right, and that you include enough to give the buyer a good look at all parts of the exterior and interior. If you can include a video walkaround and guided tour of the interior, that’s a bonus, but not essential for most sales transactions.

Conclusion: How CarTradeGo Helps the Process

Many Canadians, and others selling cars around the world now, are increasingly turning to dealerships and other car retailers to sell their cars quickly or as part of a trade-in deal. The main trouble with that, of course, is that you have to visit different dealerships to confirm different online quotes and more. It’s a lot of hassle and can end up in a lot of complex negotiations and deal-striking.

CarTradeGo is designed to make the entire process easier by providing you with a centralized selling platform through which you can sell your cars to dealerships using our auction system. In other words, we bring the dealerships to you. It’s not only easier, but faster too. When you try to sell privately you might get a somewhat higher price, but you also have to prepare multiple listings, await responses, deal with visitors coming to look at the vehicle and test drive it. Using CarTradeGo, you can bypass this entire ordeal.

Learn more about how to sell your car more easily by downloading the CarTradeGo app today.

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