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Selling your used car? Cleanliness counts!

By presenting your car in prime condition, a private seller can increase the chance of securing a sale at the desired price, and remove the need to deal with low offers and stressful haggling.

  • Choosing a car at dealership. Thoughtful grey hair man in formalwear leaning at the car and looking away

Cleaning a car before putting it up for private sale can potentially add hundreds of dollars to its value, according to the used car experts.

And it only takes a few hours and a relatively small amount of money to get the results that will help to achieve a healthy premium.

By presenting your car in prime condition, a private seller can increase the chance of securing a sale at the desired price, and remove the need to deal with low offers and stressful haggling.

Private buyers are easily put off by a dirty car — they think it is unloved and poorly maintained, and will feel justified in offering a lower price than the seller would like.

A thorough wash and polish and a comprehensive interior clean can really improve your vehicle’s appearance and add hundreds to its value in the private market.

A well presented, three-year-old, lower-medium-sized car like a Ford Focus or a Chevrolet Cobalt might realize an additional $500, while a six-year-old example would still be worth at least a couple of hundred more.

For a one-year-old, upper-medium prestige car — a BMW 3 Series or a Mercedes C-Class, for example — the premium could be even better.

This advice is especially timely given the current level of demand in the used car market for more fuel-efficient vehicles.

With a significant volume of cars pre-owned, off-lease vehicles now available on the market, as a private seller you should do all you can to make your own vehicle stand out from the crowd. A clean car will create a good first impression, which can be vitally important in winning over potential buyers.

A car not only has to look clean, however — it also has to look cherished.

At around $100 to $150, recruiting the help of a professional detailing service could be a sound investment to help boost your vehicle’s appeal and resulting sale price, and could be crucial if the car is being sold by a smoker.

For older vehicles even a new set of wheel trims can improve the appearance of a car, while new floor mats will do the same for the interior — all for a fairly small outlay.

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