How Do I Get the Best Price for My Car?

Everyone wants to get the best price for their car when selling it! For many of us it has been the biggest or second biggest purchase in our lives. Here are some simple things that you can do that will help.

A clean car is much more attractive to a purchaser. Let’s face facts, who wants to get into a dirty car? Definitely not a potential buyer! And if there are a few choices, a clean car is always a better option.

Most importantly, make sure that if you are taking it to a car yard, it is registered! Driving an unregistered vehicle on our roads attracts a major penalty. If you are selling it privately, potential buyers will need to know if it is registered. Hint: an NT registered vehicle or one that has documentation stating that it has recently passed NT Motor Vehicle Registration compliance requirements are more likely to attract a buyer.

Start with the engine. Pressure clean it if you can. Take it to a car wash and clean it thoroughly. A car with a clean engine gives the impression that the car is well-looked after!

Take the time to clean and vacuum the interior, getting rid of any marks and dust. Empty the glovebox, console, seat bags and ash-trays. Make sure that the spare tyre is pumped up and clean. Get rid of anything in the boot that is unnecessary.

Pay special attention to the parts that are seen when the bonnet, boot and doors are open.

Park the car in the shade and wash it. You don’t need to use special car wash; the kitchen detergent is just as effective. Make sure that you dry the car well with either a chamois or microfibre cloths.

Clean the windows inside and outside with a special window cleaner and paper towel. Do the same with rear-view and side mirrors.

Clean the dashboard, console and gear-stick with a damp cloth.

Clean the rims and tyres and use some tyre black on the tyres.

Polish the paint work while it is still in the shade.

To finish it off, use a subtle car or room deodoriser. Avoid anything strong and over-powering (like many commercial car deodorisers) as this can put a potential buyer off.

The cost of doing it yourself could be less than $50 plus your time. Allow 4-6 hours. The benefit is that it could substantially boost the sale price of your vehicle. This could allow you to purchase a slightly better car, reduce the amount you need to borrow or both!

If this all sounds too difficult and time consuming, there are plenty of car detailers who would be willing to make your car shine. Costs vary so ask for quotes from several detailers and get them to include exactly what they will and won’t do. Sometimes word of mouth is the best way to find a good car detailer.

Make sure that:

  • The left and right indicators work, front and back;
  • Both headlights work on low and high beam;
  • The horn works;
  • The rear number plate light works,
  • The parking lights, fog lights (if fitted), reversing light(s) are working;
  • The brake lights work;
  • Front and rear number plates are attached and in good condition;
  • The battery levels are good, and the battery has sufficient charge to start the car;
  • The seat belts are clean and all working;
  • Service history book is in the glovebox.

Now the trick is to keep it in this condition until it is sold! If you have a “for sale” sign on the window, you never know when someone might stop you to take a look.

Think about the good points of your car: what are the benefits of owning this car? Look on-line at if necessary. You need to be able to talk positively about your car.

Have an idea of the price that you would like. Be realistic! Again, check out what the same make and model cars in identical condition (kilometres, automatic/manual and fair/good/excellent condition) are selling for.  Hint: if you find a highly priced car that has been listed for a while, it is probably too highly priced! Be optimistic yet realistic!


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