Like it or not, people do judge a book by its cover. This becomes apparent if you are trying to sell a used car. The car may run like it's brand new, but if the appearance isn't pristine, people will likely walk away without even starting the engine. If you want to make the most from selling your car, here are some tips to get it looking as good as it runs.
Why Looks Matter
People will judge how well you took care of the car by its appearance. Even the smallest item, such as a bent license plate holder, can cause someone to question how well the car has been maintained. Take care of as many of these problems as you can before you list the car.
Exterior of the Car
Dents and paint job - Get the car into one of the local auto body repair services to pop out dents and fix any other body problems. Get the car painted, too. A fresh coat of paint will make potential buyers overlook some of the other minor problems with the car.
Lights and lens covers - Replace any burned out bulbs, even such bulbs as in the glove compartment and trunk. Clean off the lens covers on the exterior lights. Scrub foggy headlight covers with a little toothpaste and water to make them clear again.
License plate holder - Replace a bent holder with a new one or one from a salvage yard. Replace the holder with a generic style if you have a custom holder on the car. Some people may not be impressed with your "Sons of Anarchy" license plate holder.
Windshield wipers and arms - Replace the windshield wipers with new ones. If the arms are flaking or rusted, replace them with new or parts from a junk yard.
External mirrors - Replace any broken mirrors on the car. If the assembly has been broken, consider replacing it with salvage yard parts.
Door handles - Any corroded or bent door handles should be replaced.
Hood latch and trunk lock - The bungee cables you use to hold the hood or trunk closed won't impress potential buyers. Get the hood latch and trunk lock fixed. If the hydraulic rods that hold the hood open no longer work, replace them with salvage yard parts or install a metal rod to hold the hood open.
Hubcaps and wheel covers - Replace any missing hubcaps. If they are scratched or damaged, replace all four with a shiny new set.
Chrome components - Get a can of rust remover and chrome polish and clean up the chrome bumpers, door handles, mirrors and any other chrome accents on the car. Along with the new paint job, clean and shiny chrome will make the car look like new.
Interior of the Car
Rear view mirror - Replace the glass, if cracked, and tighten the mirror on its mount so it isn't loose.
Knobs, dials, and levers - Replace any of these broken or missing parts. Check out the junk yard first, then the auto parts store, for replacements.
Sun visors - Replace faded or damaged visors. You'll find usable ones in the salvage yard.
Carpet and floor mats - Shampoo the carpet and invest in some new floor mats.
Upholstery - Do your best to get any stains out of the upholstery. Patch any minor tears with a repair kit. For major seat damage, you might consider replacing the seat with one from a salvage yard.
Do your best to get back that "new car" smell in the interior. Pet odors and smoke will be a turnoff for some potential buyers.