If you are planning to sell your car privately, set aside half a day to properly prepare it for sale.
You should always remember that most car buyers are not experts – they will take your car as they see it. Your job is to make sure that what they see is as good as possible.
This means a good clean – inside and out. Here’s how.
Cleaning the inside of your car
If you car is looking a bit scruffy and dusty on the inside, fear not. You can have your car looking (almost) like new again in no time at all:
Get a bowl of warm soapy water and a sponge/scouring pad. Clean all of the plastic trim (dashboard, door handles, centre console, etc.) being very careful not to get electrical stuff wet – wipe, don’t soak). Wipe any excess water off and leave to dry.
If the interior trim of your car has a shiny finish, then once it is dry it is worth giving it a light polish with some domestic spray polish or perhaps an automotive product like Simoniz Cockpit Shine. Some modern soft-touch plastics are not designed to be polished, however – use common sense.
Polish the insides of all of the windows, including the front windscreen. It’s amazing how greasy and dirty these can get. Windolene or similar works fine for this.
If any of the seats are stained or dirty, some car upholstery cleaner will usually achieve surprisingly good results. You can get products designed for car use from Halfords and other car accessory shops for just a few pounds.Generally, you just spray the cleaner on and then sponge it off a few minutes later. One seat will probably only take 10 minutes to do – then just leave it to dry.
It goes without saying that all floor mats should be removed and washed/brushed and the whole of the inside of the car should be thoroughly vacuumed.
Cleaning the outside of your car
Cleaning the outside can take a little longer, depending on its age and condition.
The first job is to decide what needs doing to the paintwork. Does it just need a wash and perhaps a quick polish or is more in-depth care needed?
Older vehicles are likely to have faded and dulled paintwork with all sorts of marks on it – like tar spots, light scratches, stains from bird mess and rust spots.
If your car is still worth a reasonable amount of money, it is probably worth getting rid of some of this ingrained dirt and fading – and it’s surprisingly easy, considering how impressive the results are.
You’ll need some car shampoo, T-Cut (or similar paint restorer product) and a dry day:
Give the car an initial shampoo and rinse, then dry it off. Make sure you wash the wheels, wheel arches and mud flaps, and wipe clean inner edges of the doors and the doorframes.
Start work with the paint restorer. I use T-Cut – it’s brilliant – but there are several other equivalent products. Gradually work your way around the car, one section at a time. You will be amazed to see your old paintwork come up like new!?(T Cut works by cutting off the top layer of paint and tarnish to reveal fresh paint underneath!)
Try to avoid getting T-Cut on unpainted plastic – it tends to leave white marks. Wipe it off straight away with a damp cloth if it does happen.
At this stage, you might want to consider waxing/polishing your car – especially if you skipped the T-Cut stage. This will give the bodywork a showroom shine that always appeals to buyers. Wax polish products are easy to apply – just rub on with one cloth and buff off with another.
You’ve done most of the hard work now, but there are a couple of extra stages if you want to finish the job properly.Unpainted Plastic – if your car has grey or black unpainted plastic bumpers and trim, chances are it will be looking pretty faded and scruffy by now. By using a plastic blackening product, you can restore it to its former glory in just a few minutes – the results are highly impressive.
Polish glass and mirrors: There is nothing worse than smeared, streaky windows and mirrors. Polish all these so they are smear free and shiny. Ordinary domestic window cleaner spray will work perfectly well for this or click here to view some great alternatives.
Now – while the car is at its cleanest – it’s time to take any photos you might need for your advertisement!