What to Fix Before Selling Your Car

October 14th, 2022 by

A person is shown sitting in the front seat of a car.

Selling your car can be a hassle if you aren’t familiar with the process, and searching Google for “how to sell my car” can produce a lot of conflicting results. Fortunately, the team here at Ryan Nissan has plenty of experience helping North Dakota drivers sell their cars the right way. You have a lot of different things to think about, from getting the paperwork lined up to figuring out how much your car is worth, and it pays to work with the experts on our staff. One of the most stressful questions for many sellers is deciding what they should fix on their car before they sell it, but we can help you make the right choices here. Afterall, you don’t want to waste your time and money fixing things that won’t improve the resale value.

The simple answer is to fix things that you can take care of easily and quickly. Here at Ryan Nissan, we have an on-site service center that can handle just about anything, and we go over every car we buy before we sell it. That means you don’t need to spend your time fixing every issue with your old car before selling it to us because we can handle most of those problems more quickly ourselves, and you won’t see much return on your investment. The issues that to focus on are the ones that you can handle more easily than us or that produce an outsized return.

Start With a Deep Clean

The biggest effort you should invest in before selling your car is simply cleaning and washing it. This is not only something that you can do yourself in an afternoon, but it can pay big dividends. This doesn’t have to be a professional-grade detailing that leaves your car with a mirror finish and a like-new interior. In fact, you will probably be losing money and missing some of the side benefits if you pay someone else to clean your car for you before you sell it. Just focus on rinsing down the outside and tidying up the interior, so it isn’t filled with personal effects or trash.

The main reason to clean your car is that if you show up at our dealership with a shiny clean car to sell, it allows us to more quickly and accurately determine its value. A dirty car could be hiding issues, and cleaning out a filthy interior can take us a lot of time, which may reduce the resale value of your vehicle, so this is an easy way to fix your car up for sale. That is why the cleaning doesn’t have to be perfect, just good enough that we can see what you have and give you a fair offer for it.

Cleaning your car is also a great way to get a better understanding of exactly what condition it is in yourself. You may discover that it has a cracked light or scratches in the paint that you weren’t aware of before. Giving the car a good once-over while cleaning it will help you more accurately gauge its value and prevent surprises when you visit us. You should also take this time to gather up any accessories your car came with, track down spare keys and key fobs, and put together any documentation or maintenance records you may have. All of these can go a long way to increasing the resale value of your vehicle.

A gloved person is shown deep cleaning a car.

Move on to the Small Stuff

Once your car is clean and you’ve gathered everything it came with, take the time to examine some quickly resolved maintenance items. Focus on the easily-identified issues that you can fix yourself without paying too much. For instance, make sure none of the light bulbs have burned out, check to see if the fluid levels are all topped off, and examine the windshield wiper blades for wear. You should be able to find and take care of all these small details in an afternoon, and any parts you need will be available at your local auto parts store.

Details like these can be handled yourself without paying a mechanic for their labor, so these small fixes provide a high-return investment that can improve your car’s resale value. While a burned-out headlight or old windshield wipers won’t massively reduce the value of your old car, taking care of these small items demonstrates that you have cared for your vehicle and will improve its value when you sell it. If you are the sort of person who always stays on top of these easy-to-handle maintenance items, then congratulations! You’re already done with this step.

Depending on your mechanical aptitude, you may be comfortable handling some more substantial repairs. Touching up nicks in the paint, changing out the air filters, or replacing the brake pads are all jobs that can be done at home if you know what you are doing, and they can make your vehicle more valuable. However, if these more complicated maintenance items are done improperly, it can reduce the value of your vehicle, so only attempt these repairs if you have experience working on cars. In general, your best bet is to only fix things that you can confidently handle yourself and let us make any more substantial repairs after we buy your vehicle from you.

Remove Aftermarket Components

This step will only apply if you are the sort of person who likes to modify your vehicle. While some common aftermarket additions will increase your vehicle’s value––items like remote start systems, backup cameras, and floor mats––most of them will actually decrease your vehicle’s value. So if you have added anything to your car, from a phone mount to an aftermarket exhaust, you may want to consider removing it and reinstalling the factory parts. This is particularly true if you can resell the aftermarket parts online. Of course, this only applies to aftermarket parts that are easy to remove. If you have to pay money to remove something, it will probably be a better idea to leave it as it is when you sell your car.

A person is shown passing a set of car keys.

What Not to Fix

When prepping to sell your car, there are some fixes that you don’t want to make. The big thing to avoid is spending a lot of money to make your car look better. New tires, for instance, are an example of a big-ticket item that you would be better off without. While having a set of brand-new tires on your car will certainly increase its value, the odds are that the increase will be less than the amount you spent on the new tires, especially once you add the cost of labor to install them. If your car needs new tires, we can install them ourselves after we buy your vehicle, so you don’t need to worry about taking care of it beforehand.

Selling Your Car Doesn’t Have to Be Difficult

While you may think that it will take a lot of work to prepare your car for sale, it really doesn’t have to be difficult when you work with Ryan Nissan. We can take your old car no matter what condition it is in, so you don’t have to do anything at all if you don’t want to. If you are willing to invest some time and money to maximize the value of your vehicle, then we advise focusing on the simple things that you can do yourself. Simply giving your car a good wash is a great start when it comes time to sell your car. Contact us today to learn more.

Posted in Sell My Car