How to Prepare a Car For Sale

By Angela Monroe - November 17, 2020

How to Prepare a Car For Sale

Selling a car can be a long process. Dealing with low-ball offers, dealing with people picking your car to bits and wondering if you should hold out a little longer for more money. We give some top tips on how to prepare a car for sale.



Buyers looking at cars for sale always notice headlights. Faded headlights look disgusting and make cars appear poorly maintained. You may have seen older cars for sale with a yellowish discolouration on their headlights – it’s UV damage from the sun.

If you sell a car with faded headlights, fix them first. Here’s how:

Most of the time, it’s surface damage only. There are home remedies such as polishing them with baking soda and toothpaste, but headlight repairs kits are a good, proven solution.

Add some protective film to keep them clear, especially if you often park in direct sunlight or plan to keep your car for sale for a long period of time.



Always wash any car for sale thoroughly before taking photos of it. Paint quality is something all buyers notice. If your car sits waiting to be sold for a number of weeks, it’s worth washing it regularly and giving it a quick once-over before prospective buyers come to see it.

Cars for sale online don’t have the best reputation for honesty. Make sure to list any damage in the description and if need be, prepare photos to send to buyers. It can be frustrating if someone feels lied to and asks ‘why wasn’t it visible in the photos?’.



Make sure to give your car for sale a good vacuum and clean on the inside. Products like Armorall work wonders on car interiors. 

After cleaning the interior, give the windows a clean inside and out. Smears can be evident at night or when light hits from certain angles so it might take a few passes with a clean cloth.

Cigarette burns, pet hair or old food are red flags, they indicate a careless or rough history. It might be worth giving your car a full spring clean if the exterior and interior don’t come up looking how you’d like them to.



When looking at cars for sale, most buyers inspect tyres as they indicate any ‘suspicious’ driving and replacing them is a big cost. If you rotate your tyres often, they should have decent tread remaining.

At the very least, give your tyres a clean and a spray with some tyre shine so they look well-kept.

Sometimes, it’s worth replacing tyres with minimal tread remaining before your car’s for sale. You’ll be able to list ‘new tyres’ in the description too. In Australia, most states require at least 1mm of the tread.



If you’re looking at cars for sale online, it’s easy to be deterred by dirty engines. They signal a poorly maintained car that might be in need of repairs.

With a slightly damp cloth, give your engine a wipe. If there’s any dust or tree debris, it might be worth vacuuming too. In really bad cases, paying a professional to give it a steam clean can result in a near-perfect looking engine.



Cars for sale online always get judged by photos. Buyers spend hours scouring the internet for nice examples.

Make sure: 

  • If you’re selling a car with large cargo space, put a large bag or item inside to show how big it is.
  • Try to include the whole vehicle. Some cars for sale show photos with parts of the vehicle cut out. You may have to drive to a nearby park to get to the right angle.
  • If your car for sale is advertising ‘low km’, include a photo of the odometer.
  • Use the max number of photos allowed wherever you advertise.

Things to avoid:

  • Background. Make sure there are no other damaged cars, tyre marks or unattractive sights visible in your photos.
  • Dirty engine. Buyers naturally want to see a clean, well-maintained engine. Give it a wipe down if yours is dusty or stained.
  • Rego. If cars for sale have number plates visible, buyers can check online to see when the registration runs out. Always be honest in the description.

Preparing Cars For Sale Summary:

Preparing Cars For Sale Summary

Take the steps necessary to present your car to buyers as best as you can. Be honest and polite when dealing with buyers too. If someone offers an insulting low-ball price, a rude response can result in them leaving a bad comment about you as a seller.

The better the condition, the more money you can receive. The nicer your car for sale looks online, the more people will be interested in it.

Angela Monroe
Angela Monroe is the Community Manager at The Positive Group, specialising in giving people the information that they need when they need it, and putting you on the path to a fair financial future. She has 8 years of experience in helping Australians find the right finance solutions, and regularly contributes articles to empower Australians with the knowledge they need to become financially healthy.


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