How To Prep Your Car For Sale

How To Prep Your Car For Sale

Thinking of selling your vehicle? Maximize its resale value with these quick, simple tips.

Get It Sparkly Clean

A little elbow grease can go a long way. The first thing potential buyers will notice is how clean your car is—which they could take as an indicator of how well their potential purchase was cared for—so make sure their first impression is a great one.

Start with the interior with a quick and thorough vacuuming: under and in between the seats, the carpet, the dash and the trunk. Clean the seats with a fabric cleaner (or with soap and water for leather-trimmed seats). Remove unsightly carpet stains with a stain lifter such as Motorcraft® Professional Strength Carpet and Upholstery Cleaner or Motorcraft® Spot and Stain Remover.

While you’re at it, spiff up your interior by polishing all the trim and using cotton swabs to get at hard-to-reach crevices such as air vents, audio systems and dashboard switches. Remember: If you’re extra vigilant now, you may make more money in the end.

Now move on to the exterior. First, inspect your paint for trouble spots such as bird droppings, tar and tree sap. Use Motorcraft® Bug and Tar Remover to soften these contaminants. Next, hand-wash your vehicle with a bucket of Motorcraft® Detail Wash and a lamb’s wool wash mitt. Use a natural-bristle brush to get at the tire sidewalls. For tips for Ford owners on how to polish your car, clean your windows and choose the right wheel cleaner, read this.

Invest in the Right Repairs

Certain repairs and improvements can help boost your car’s resale value. These might be worth investing in before you list your car.

  • Dents, dings and scratches are often both very noticeable and easily repaired. Go to to get the exact matching Motorcraft® touchup paint. Hire a specialist to pop out dings and dents. And check out this article for tips on how to fix scratches, broken or cloudy headlamps and more.
  • A chipped or cracked windshield can be a red flag for buyers, because it could indicate that the car was in an accident or that the current owner didn’t take good care of the vehicle. It’s worth getting an estimate from your Ford Dealer Service Center before putting your vehicle up for sale. The cost of repairing your windshield might be less than what your buyer would knock off in their bid.
  • Get your brakes and tires inspected together at your local Ford Dealer Service Center using The Works™. If there are any issues, go ahead and get your brakes or tires repaired/replaced, because buyers may look for significant discounts if these basic things don’t function correctly.

Keep Your Papers in Order

Certain records and papers are incredibly valuable to buyers, so if you gather this stuff together it could pay off.

  • Service records: These should show that your car has been taken care of at the right times, which could help you seal the deal. If you know your car has a good history but you haven’t kept any relevant records, you could buy your own vehicle history report online from one of the providers approved by the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System. (Most reports cost less than $5.)
  • The factory or extended warranty: Find out whether the vehicle’s warranty is still valid—if it’s transferrable, this will be a perk for your buyer.
  • A signed, clear title: The title must be void of any balance on a car loan. Contact your lender to get this in order.
  • All original manuals, handbooks and brochures: Buyers will appreciate these, if you still have them. If you don’t have all the originals, don’t fret. You can check your existing warranty, see your Ford Extended Service Plan documentation and find your owner’s manual at

Say Cheese

It’s time to take some good photographs—and perhaps even a video—of your car to post online or email to potential buyers. Keep the background simple, and emphasize the good without leaving out the bad. No one wants to discover undisclosed flaws after traveling to see a vehicle in person. When you’re ready to show your car to a prospective buyer, it’s a good idea to meet at a public place with lots of people around—such as a mall parking lot. And always take a friend or family member along with you for increased safety.

Now sit back and let the bidding war begin.

By Jordan Mendoza