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STEPS TO SALE

CLEANING YOUR CAR
BEFORE SALE


Home > Sell my car > Clean your car before sale

Want to boost your car's value before selling it? Clean it. It's claimed that cleaning a car can increase its sale value by up to 10%. Whatever the precise number is, it's a fact that people often judge used cars on their first impressions. So it makes sense that the cleanliness of your car can have a big impact on what you get for it.

STEP 1:WASH IT

If you're doing this on a sunny day, park in a shaded place so the heat of the sun doesn't dry the water off before you've finished. If it does, it usually leaves water spots.

Clean the wheels. This avoids the grime from the dirtiest parts of the car accidentally getting on the rest of it. Use a long bristled brush to scrub the wheels (unless they have glossy rims, in which case use a sponge). Rinse the whole car down with a hose (using a weak jet) and then scrub it down using a big kidney-shaped sponge. The reason for using a sponge is that it's non-abrasive and won't damage the paintwork.

Get a bucket and make a solution of water and car wash soap. Dip the sponge in and clean the wheels first and then, after a change of water and sponge, the rest of the car. After the wheels, wash the car one section at a time, starting with the roof. Each time you finish a section, rinse the soapy water off with the hose. Keep the whole car wet as you go along so that you can towel it dry and make sure there are no water marks.

Rinse underneath the car with the hose (especially if you live near the sea and your car has been exposed to salt water or salt air). Towel the car down when you're done.

STEP 2: DETAIL IT

Detailing means cleaning the details rather than just giving a general clean up to the bodywork. For instance, if your paint has faded over time you should consider the use of a clay bar. Buy a clay kit and spray the lubricant that comes with it over a square metre section of the car after it has had its wash. Drag the clay bar over the surface in lines. The whole process of claying your car should take at least an hour but the effect on the finish should be very noticeable. It will also help you to apply the wax and achieve a better finish with it when you come to Step 3. If you're not sure what you're doing, use a mild clay and observe the results.

Now it's time to clean your head lights. Get some plastic polish and a suitable scrubber (as recommended on the plastic polish packaging). Apply masking tape to the paint surrounding the lights as this plastic polish can damage the paintwork. Now, scrub away to improve the way your lights look.

Verify which parts of your car have bare metal and polish the metal with the appropriate polish. Many metallic finishes are just chrome on plastic so make sure you're right about this before you start polishing.

Using an old toothbrush, clean out all of the cracks and crevices on your car. You may not think a potential buyer will notice this from afar but, actually, it's a well-known method of improving the overall impression.

STEP 3: WAX IT

Check the owner's manual to make sure the manufacturer does not specify a certain type of wax. If not, go for a liquid wax or a soft wax. These are easy to apply although they don't necessarily last as long as other types of wax.

Avoid working in direct sunlight and use the applicator the wax manufacturer has recommended. If they haven't recommended one, buy a foam applicator pad from any car repair shop. The basic process involves spreading the wax onto the body of the car and then buffing it into the paint with a soft, buffing towel. Apply the wax in an up and down motion (not a circular motion).

STEP 4: THE INTERIOR

Pull out all floor mats and thoroughly vacuum the inside of the car including the dashboard and console using the soft brush attachment. Keep doing this until there is no dust or moveable dirt in your car's interior.

The next step is to remove any stains or discolouration using an upholstery cleaner. Usually this process will involve spraying the cleaner onto the upholstery and scrubbing it off vigorously with a soft cloth.

Leather seating has special requirements and results with different leather cleaners may vary. Test any new cleaner on a small and out of the way section of leather before using it all over. A clean and moist cloth should take care of most of the dashboard if it's made of plastic.

Finally, clean your windows, inside and outside, to make sure that everything is spick and span, and shining like a new pin (or a new car).

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