When the ideal time arrives to sell your car, you should have it ready, looking and feeling as brand-new as it can be. Cleaning your car is the most basic way you can prepare for the sale. This time, you’re not just cleaning it for yourself. You want to convince someone to buy your car. Let these cleaning tips help you in restoring the old beauty of your used car.
Use the Right Products and Tools
Tools and products are crucial to the cleaning process. The wrong product can at best haphazardly do the job and, at worst, cause irreversible damage. For example, dishwashing soaps may be good for removing grease on plates, but that’s exactly why they’re bad for cars. Dishwashing soaps strip away the wax that protects the car body from micro-scratches and UV damage.
Despite being mostly hidden, car engines also gather a lot of mess, like carbon build-up, grease, and road salt. A pressure washer sounds like the perfect tool to get the job done in record time. Unfortunately, it’s exactly the tool you need to avoid. A pressure washer can exert too much force and damage the electronics and delicate parts in the engine.
Check out this list to know which tools and products to avoid when cleaning your car.
Clean the Interior and Exterior Deeply
Park your car in a shaded place with enough light before you begin cleaning. Once it’s ready, wear a pair of trusty rubber gloves, and bring a big black trash bag. Search your glove compartment, trunk, and every other surface in your car, and throw out every piece of trash.
Get a separate trash bag (something that’s not black to avoid confusion) or a box to temporarily store all the personal belongings in your car. Only begin cleaning once the space is cleared.
Remove dirty mats, and check for leftover trash. Clean from top to the bottom to avoid dirtying place you’ve already cleaned. Vacuum and wipe the dashboard, console, and other top surfaces with car wipes or lint-free microfiber towels and an ammonia-free car cleaner. Remove residue with a dry microfiber towel.
Once you’ve wiped the top part, vacuum the seats, carpet, compartments, and other lower surfaces. Spray foam cleaner on the seats and brush to remove stains. Do the same with the carpets, but use a carpet cleaner. Clean the windows with microfiber cloth and glass cleaner then wipe them dry.
Don’t neglect to clean corners and edges. Dirt and dust can settle in these places. Clean the AC vents with a foam paintbrush. Reach into tight corners and small spaces with a Q-tip. Dab both tools with a gentle cleaner to break down stubborn dirt.
Remove remaining moisture after with a dry foam or Q-tip. Leaving residue to try will create unsightly marks that are near impossible to remove.
Wash and dry the mats. After your put them back, vacuum the inside again to remove leftover dust and dirt. Then spray the interior with a deodorizer to remove lingering unpleasant odors.
For the exterior, fill two buckets with water. Add a good car shampoo in one bucket, not a dishwashing detergent or hand soap, as they will remove the wax coating. Rinse the whole exterior of your car thoroughly, using a hose to remove dirt and debris.
Soak a microfiber cloth or sponge in the bucket with car shampoo, and clean the car body from top to bottom. Rinse the cloth when it has accumulated too much dirt. Wipe again when it’s clean. Wipe dry to avoid watermarks.
Move on to the tires. Clean them with a soft-bristled brush and tire cleaner. Rinse them dry.
Even after thorough cleaning, there may still be small particles that can cause scratches on the body and dull the paint job. Use a clay bar to remove these contaminants and brighten up your car’s exterior.
Wax the Body
Oxidation occurs when heat and oxygen combine. This can ruin the paint of your car, strip it off, and allow rust to develop, which is a huge turnoff for buyers. You can prevent oxidation by waxing, sealing, or coating your car. What’s the difference?
Wax and sealants are temporary solutions to the problem. It needs monthly reapplication to keep the body protected. On the other hand, coating provides a semi-permanent protection, which can last from one to two years, at the cost of more expense.
Give your car a good wax before you take pictures of it for selling. Apply the wax after you’ve done all the necessary cleaning. Add wax on a pad application, and apply it in an up-and-down motion. Wait for it to dry, and use a clean, dry microfiber buffing cloth to bring out its shine.
Protect the Car Parts
Even when the engine is still in good condition, potential buyers will still judge your car by its appearance. If you want to get the greatest value out of your car, you have to protect its parts. Lessen your car’s exposure to direct sunlight. Always park in a shaded area, and use car covers to protect it from the elements.
If you notice scratches and damage, even the smallest ones, deal with them right away. A small problem can snowball and cause greater damage. Take care of every little part, even the ones that don’t affect the direct function of your car, like the license plate. Use a license plate frame made of carbon fiber to prevent damage and dent.
Presentation is just as important as function in attracting serious buyers.
Do Basic Maintenance
Ensure that your car is in its best condition when you sell it. Do some basic car maintenance. Replace the air filters, the engine oil, coolant, other fluids, and parts that are broken or too old to function perfectly.
Check if the tires have the right amount of pressure and if they’re aligned properly. Batteries may not need much maintenance, but check them nonetheless.
If you have a record of when you bought your battery and how long you’ve used it (which you should have), check if the current one still has a long way to go. Pass the record to the next car owner. They will surely appreciate it.
Along with the keys and car, you should also hand in the manufacturer’s manual. It will help the new owner take care of the car they’re getting.
Don’t wait for too long to sell your car. The value of a car can depreciate very quickly, considering the volatile market.
According to expert dealers, summer and spring are the best times to sell your used car. Most people don’t think of buying a car during fall and winter because they’ll be spending their hard-earned money on holidays and presents.
Your should prepare your car in time for the selling season. Clean it thoroughly using the right tools and products. Give it basic maintenance to ensure that its in the best condition for its new owner.