Car selling tips

By: Andrew Wallace
Andrew Wallace is a journalist and editor with 12 years’ experience across news, finance, lifestyle and sporting subject matter. He works for the Herald Sun.

Mix sawdust with the oil in your gearbox. Wind the speedometer back with an electric drill. Super glue the bumper bar on. In the Roald Dahl classic Matilda, these were just some of the methods used by dodgy car dealer Mr Wormwood in order to jack up the price of his used vehicles.

If you’re looking to sell or trade in your automobile for that shiny new model or safer, bigger family car, this is definitely not the way to go.

Good news is there’s a number of honest, simple and proven ways to maximise the money you pocket when selling off the old set of wheels, allowing you the peace of mind to proceed with financing a new car without breaking the budget.

Markham Matthews is the National Sales Director for dealers at CarsGuide, a national site that advertises approximately 120,000 vehicles. An industry veteran of 21 years, Mr Matthews says it is possible, and relatively easy,to add thousands of dollars to your sale.


Detail for the resale

“The No.1 thing without a doubt is to make sure your car is clean, inside and out,” says Mr Matthews. “Don’t leave [fast food] wrappers and rubbish in the car, and it’s certainly worthwhile paying $200-$300 to get a proper detail done – you will get that back in hundreds and even thousands of dollars more if the car is presented correctly.”
“You can always tell a car that’s been cleaned very quickly, just a rushed job; people will pay more when the car has – or appears to have – been looked after.”

There are various levels of car detailing, starting with a basic wash:vacuum and interior clean for about $50 through to a premium level polish and full carpet shampoo for around $300.


Ditch tired tyres

Mr Matthews says a car should be sold with tyres in good condition and tread left on them. It is also much harder to sell a damaged vehicle.

“Minor damage is OK, people understand that cars have wear and tear – but not when the car’s got a big biffo on the side of it. Make sure you get dents repaired by a quality person, because a bad repair is easy to see and can de-value the car incredibly.”


Play it by the books

It’s a huge bonus to be able to present the car’s service history to any prospective buyer.

“To show you’ve had the car regularly serviced is worth thousands of dollars,” Mr Matthews advises.

“If you haven’t got the service invoices, most places will gladly re-print them and give you an itemised list of what you’ve had done.”


Rack off

There are a number of common pitfalls to avoid; unnecessary spruce-ups that will decrease the cash you walk away with.

“Roof racks, seat covers and window tinting don’t make any difference. And don’t do a backyard job trying to fix something - it looks terrible. You also don’t need to go and buy a set of shiny wheels – if you spend $800, you won’t get that money back.”


Get snap happy

When selling online, take at least 20 photos of the car – clear, well-presented shots of the interior; dash; speedo; all around the exterior. Your written blurb should be descriptive, to the point and truthful.

“You’ve got to say enough to get people interested, but not too much – you want to leave them curious enough to come look. Don’t fudge it; if the car has a mark on the door, say it – don’t say the car’s been a one-lady owner if it’s been owned by a hoon, people would work [it] out very quickly.”

Apply online for a car loan

Call our loan specialists now on 1300 973 422
Mon - Fri, 8am-7pm (AEST)

1Extended interest free terms may vary. Available at participating retailers to approved applicants only. Conditions, fees and charges apply.