Used Car Selling Tips – How to Prepare Your Vehicle for Resale

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company. All opinions are 100% mine.

Young Woman Holding Key to Convertible

Nationwide provided me with information regarding its blog post. When it comes to buying and selling our possessions, there are few things that are bigger than our cars. While getting rid of a sofa on Craigslist or selling old toys on eBay can be a rather simple process without much to think about or much to lose at stake, it’s a bit different with a vehicle! Your car is valuable and you want to get the MOST value from it when it comes time to sell. To help you maximize the amount you get from your sale, we have some helpful used car selling tips courtesy of Nationwide. This helpful article on Nationwide’s blog, Prepping Your Ride for Resale: Used Car Selling Tips, will help you maximize the amount you get from your sale. Here are a few of the highlights:

Used Car Selling Tips – How to Prepare Your Vehicle for Resale


Trade-In or Private Sale?

While trading in a car can be very easy, you generally won’t get as much for it vs. a private sale. That means you should approach each time of sale differently. For trade-ins dealers aren’t expecting a pristine vehicle. But, if you’re making a private sale you will get a much better price if everything is in working order and looking good.Cropped 4f3f4c5c 6c20 48de 83e0 446d61c7cc97

Appearances Matter

The better your car looks, the better your chances of getting a good price for it, especially when it comes to a private sale. Make an effort to get your car clean and shiny. You can take this on yourself or have it detailed by a professional. Ensure everything is clean and replace any minor things like stained floor mats.

Follow Your Nose

Besides the look of your car, make sure it smells good! If you have pets or people have smoked in your car, you might need to have the interior shampooed. And since you have been driving around in the car for years, you might be accustomed to the smell. Ask an “objective smeller” to smell your car and give their opinion. If it’s an “all clear”, then just spend a buck or two on an air freshener and you’re good to go.

Check the Exterior

If you did take your car to be detailed for the interior, they should also take care of minor scratches on the exterior. You can also shine up the headlights using our tips to restore your headlights for under $30.

Take a Look Under the Hood

Finish up your cleaning by using a rag to wipe around under the hood to remove dust. If you go farther than that you’ll have to take care because of all the electronics under the hood of modern cars, but you can spot clean with a cleaning solution to shine things up.


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  1.' robin masshole mommy says:

    I traded in my last car for the car I have now and I am honestly surprised they took it. I ran that thing into the ground!

  2. These are all great tips. Selling your car is like selling a house. You have to get it clean and looking its best if you want to get top dollar on it.

  3. Following your nose is an EXCELLENT tip. You’d be amazed at what you can find secreted away under the seats of your cars, ESPECIALLY if you have kids.

  4.' Pam Wattenbarger says:

    These are great tips to prepare your vehicle for resale. It’s important to make sure it is ready.

  5. I agree with all these tips. I always make sure my car stays and smells clean inside and out. Although I am not thinking of reselling my car (yet), I think these tips, if followed to the letter, will help command a better price for a used car.

  6. Greta article! Great reminder that you don’t want the buyer, or yourself to run into any surprises in the middle of an inspection! Who knows what you might find if you don’t check first!

  7. These are some great tips. We also checked under the seats. Most people don’t do that.

  8. Great tips! Hubby will probably be ready to trade his car in before the year is up, so we will definitely get it spruced up as best as we can before getting rid of it.

  9. Reading this is perfect timing for me because i am in the market for trading my vehicle. I am going to follow these great tips when i go to trade my car in.

  10.' shelly peterson says:

    Such great tips. My daughter is thinking of selling her car here soon. This will be helpful to her.

  11.' Our Family World says:

    very bright idea. my dad was planning to resale his vehicle since he wanted to upgraded to the bigger one! great tips thanks for sharing

  12. This is great. I have a friend who has been trying to sell her car for the better part of 4 months now, and will have to direct her here. She’s been complaining about the whole process so its something she could use advice on.

  13. I’ve been thinking about selling my car so that I can upgrade, and I really appreciate these tips that you have here! It’s important to prepare the car properly in order to attract potential buyers easily.

  14.' Dana Valento says:

    great tips! i have no plans yet to sell my car but if time comes ill remember this post! Thank you for sharing it!

  15. These are all excellent tips on selling a vehicle. I know a good wash, detail and vacuum can really go a long way!

  16. I always take my dad because he catches some of the smaller things I don’t. You can never be too careful with a used car. Follow your gut!

  17. These tips could not have come at a better time! We are trying to sell our car and we can use all the help we can get! Thanks so much for sharing!

  18. These are some really great tips that you share here. My husband just sold his old car to buy a new one — it was really a process!! I’ll keep these tips in my for when it’s my turn! 🙂

  19. I love that you included that appearances matter. That’s important for people trying to get top dollar. Dirty or torn up interiors and exteriors get less money..

  20. Cleaning the headlights is a MUST. If you have an older car that has a lot of oxidation on the headlight covers don’t neglect them.

  21. My car is now 15 years old. I’ll probably donate it to my local NPR station when it no longer runs well.

  22. These are good suggestions, and it is a smart move to try to get the best price for resale on your car!

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