When it comes to selling a car or trading it in, you can get a better price if it’s in good or excellent condition.

When it comes to selling a car or trading it in, you can get a better price if it’s in good or excellent condition. Here are the steps to take to ensure you get the best price for your vehicle.


Use Kelley Blue Book to check the top value of the vehicle before you put too much money into it. If you’re driving a vehicle that’s worth $3,000 at the most, you don’t want to put much more than a few hundred dollars into fixing it. However, if you have a vehicle that commands over $5,000, you may want to invest $1,000 or better to get the top dollar for the vehicle.


Before selling a car, it’s a good idea to make certain repairs. Body repairs such as removing dents, fixing broken bumpers, and broken trim and light covers will increase the value and get you more money for your vehicle. Additionally, make all necessary repairs to the brakes, suspension, and steering. If the timing belt is broken or stretched and the vehicle is not running, be sure to replace the timing belt. Finally, replace any sensors so the vehicle runs and the check engine light is not illuminated.

If the car has mechanical problems, a few hundred dollars may mean the difference between receiving $100 from the junkyard and receiving the full used value from someone who can drive it home.


In order to get the best price for your vehicle, detail the interior and exterior before putting it on the market. Start on the inside with the dash, seats, and headliner, then vacuum the air vents. Make sure to use the appropriate cleaners for the various materials in your vehicle. You’ll need leather cleaner and conditioner, vinyl conditioner, and a steam cleaner for cloth seats.

Vacuum the carpets and then clean them with a carpet cleaner. If the floor mats don’t look clean, remove or replace them. Don’t forget to clean the spots many people forget: the seat crevices and inside all storage compartments, including the door bins and the overhead console.

For the exterior, repair any scratches with some light painting. Get the color code from the tag on the door and then pick up a small bottle of paint that matches the color of your vehicle. If the scratch is not deep, clean the area and then fill the scratch with the paint. Let the paint dry and then smooth the paint with wet/dry sandpaper. Lightly buff the area with rubbing compound.

If a scratch is deep, you may want to have a body shop do the repairs so that the paint is even. This process involves taking the paint down to the depth of the scratch and then repainting the area. Usually you need to paint the entire body panel to get it to look right.

Once you repair the body and paint, wash and wax the vehicle to give it a good shine. If the car is very dirty inside, you may want to have it professionally detailed.

You should not only detail your vehicle before you sell it, but also make any repairs so you can bring up the value and get the right price.

Traci Benoit

About the AuthorTraci Benoit

I'm an automotive copywriter with more than 10 years of professional writing experience. I've written automotive content, articles, how-tos, magazine articles, sales copy and more. I have more than 15 years of professional hands-on experience in the automotive industry.