Selling your car can be a challenging process, and if you want to get the best price possible, you may want to do a few repairs before you put your car on the market. Wondering which repairs will have the greatest impact on your car's sale price? The answer depends on several different factors, but here are five repairs you should definitely consider doing:
1. Repairs related to recalls
If your car has been recalled for anything defective, you should get that fixed before trying to sell your car. In most cases, repairs related to recalls are free, but you are saving the new owner the hassle of having to get it done.
No one buying a car wants a to-do list to come along with it, and if they are willing to acquire a car with a to-do list, they will usually want a discount in exchange for the trouble. If you have the time, take care of recall issues before putting your car on the market and make copies of your documentation to give to the new owner.
2. Any repairs you can do yourself
As indicated above, most people who buy used cars will expect a discount for any repairs that need to be done. Although expectations can vary wildly, as a general rule of thumb, most car buyers want a discount equal to the cost of the repair plus a little extra for the inconvenience.
If you are handy and can take care of any repairs on your own, do that before you sell the car. For example, if the car needs new brake pads and rotors and you know how to install them yourself, you can typically buy the materials you need for between $144 and $211. However, if you factor in labor, replacing your brake pads costs $296 to $404.
That means, you can spend around $150 to $200 plus a few hours of your time to replace your brakes and rotors, or you can give the buyer a $400 to $500 discount (the cost of the work plus a bit extra). Obviously, doing the repair yourself saves you money in the long run and helps you get a better price for your car.
3. First impression repairs
Whether you are selling a house, a dress, a car or anything else, first impressions matter a lot. Do you want prospective buyers to see your car and instantly feel intrigued or do you want to have to explain that your car is a diamond in the rough?
If you answered the former, take some time to do the car repairs that make your car look instantly better. Repairs in this category include bodywork and interior cleaning. If you have dents or scratches, have them pounded out or have an auto body specialist touch up your car's paint.
Get rid of bits of food, spilled soda, sticky fingerprints and other blemishes by having your car's interior detailed as well.
4. Annual service and routine maintenance
Even if you don't have a lot of money to invest in repairs, consider getting your car serviced before you try to sell it. Have all of the routine maintenance such as tire rotation and oil changes done, and get a list of any repair work that needs to be done.
If you have a comprehensive list of auto repairs that need to be done, you have the facts you need to come to a fair price with the prospective buyer. For example, if the buyer tries to make a low offer because the car needs work, you can respond by showing him or her that it really only needs a couple of things fixed, and the two of you have concrete numbers and estimates to work with.
Having a list of necessary repairs helps to keep the price negotiations fair and reasonable.
5. New tires
Like detail cleaning and body work, new tires help with first impression, and in most cases, the amount you spend replacing bald tires is going to be reflected directly in the selling price you get.
If your car is ready to be driven right away, you will always get a better price than you will for a car that needs a lot of repairs or that needs to be towed to its new home. If you have tires that are dangerously bald, it means the new owner cannot just give you some cash and safely drive away. However, if you replace your tires, you make your car instantly more useable and thus more valuable.