What Should I Fix on My Car Before Putting it Up for Sale?

what to fix before selling a car 300x199 What Should I Fix on My Car Before Putting it Up for Sale?If you are planning to put your car for sale, it might pay for you to fix a few things before you put that “For Sale” sign on the windshield. Doing this could yield you more cash and save you a bunch of apologies and excuses that can be tough to mention. Make your car sale go more stress free by fixing a few things on your car.

Find Out What’s Wrong First

In order to know what needs to be fixed, you have to find out what’s wrong. You might think you know of a few things but have you had the car checked by a mechanic? You need to be aware of all the issues of the car you’re selling.

Stop in at a Local Mechanic

Take the car to a local mechanic and tell them that you’re going to be selling the car and want it checked over. Ask for a complete diagnostic of the vehicle. Some places do this for free because your car is already there and you can have them do the work. They will do an inspection and give you a list of things that either need to be fixed or should be fixed. You might decide right then to get a few things fixed or you may pass on some things.

When you do this, you’re doing what a buyer might do. They might request to have the car inspected by someone. When you do it yourself, you’re one step ahead of them.

You can either opt to take care of some items so that the list isn’t so long or you can simply tell them that you’ve had it done and show them the list. Doing this, you’re showing your hand and not giving them a chance to even be dealt any cards. You’re showing that you’re basing the price you’re asking for knowing about these issues. They then can’t ask for much money off the price to get some things fixed.

This is a really valuable thing you can do. Even if you don’t decide to get anything fixed by a mechanic, you at least know what needs to be fixed. You might have someone come by to look at it that knows more about cars than you do and if they spot 3-4 things right away that you didn’t know about, you don’t look too knowledgeable about what you’re selling and it’ll be a tougher sale.

Go ahead and make some copies of the report that you get and hand it to the people coming to see the car. This is also a great tip because by doing this, they probably won’t want to have it checked out again by someone else. Your sale will go much quicker as you won’t have to wait for them to have it inspected or coordinate that with you and their schedules (huge headache avoided). Make sure the date on the report is recent to show that you just had it checked.

Phone a Friend!

Besides going to a mechanic, it’s good to put yourself in the buyer’s shoes. Ask a friend to come over and look over the car. Ask them what they think of it and what they might find as being wrong with it. You know most of the quirks of your car but you might also be blind to some things. They should look for things like dings, scratches and things not working. Ask them to pretend they’re buying the car.

When you do this, it’s kind of like a dress rehearsal for when you actually put it up for sale. By doing this practice session, you’re better able to come up with reactions to what people say because you’ve done it once before.

Go for Some Cheap Fixes

oem car parts 300x181 What Should I Fix on My Car Before Putting it Up for Sale?Personally, I’d rather get things fixed right than put on bandages that might hold until the car drives off with a new buyer in it. Even so, this doesn’t mean that you have to put on the best tires if the car needs tires. Go for the cheaper version of the fix if you can.

Using “Bandages”

Again, this isn’t my style but, for example, if you have a leaky radiator, you might try some fluid to help stop the leak or something like that. There is basically a whole aisle at your local auto parts store devoted to fluids and things to fix things cheaply. A trained mechanic will most likely see right through what you’ve done. They might see that something was leaking and now it’s not and know what you did.

OEM Parts

The acronym OEM stands for “Original Equipment Manufacturer.” This means get replacement parts made by the original manufacturer of the car. You’d be amazed at how cheap some of these parts are when you buy them online instead of at a dealer.

I had a broken hook on the privacy shade of my RSX and found that part online for like $2. I then went through the car and found 3-4 other small parts like that which were broken or missing from use over the years. I think the whole bill with shipping was less than $20. By doing this, the car looked more “put together” and cared for. I believe I got more than $20 worth by investing that money.

Car Parts at Amazon

You can also find some good car parts over at Amazon.com. They have a huge selection of whatever you would need for your car. You can either buy replacement parts or car maintenance parts as well.

Get Some Things Fixed

Depending on the price, probably the best things to get fixes are the obvious ones. If something creaks or makes a noise or makes the car ride bumpy, you are probably best off fixing those things. They’re distracting. You could have a nice car except for kind of loud muffler or squeaky bearings and it’ll ruin the whole experience when someone takes a test drive in it.

Get the safety things fixed for sure. This means the brakes and tires. People won’t want to buy a car that doesn’t seem safe.

You should have no dashboard warning lights on. There should be no “Check Engine” light, maintenance light or any other kind of warning. That’s a huge turnoff and it’ll make it really hard to sell your car.

Alignments are super cheap but they help. I hate driving a car that’s out of line – where you basically have to hold the steering wheel in order to make it drive straight. That’s pretty annoying. Why make a test drive annoying for someone? Pay the $80 and get it fixed so that they’re not bothered by that. They might see that and ask for $200 off the selling price where you could have fixed it for $80 and made an extra $120.

Body Work

mechanic under hood 199x300 What Should I Fix on My Car Before Putting it Up for Sale?Where I live, there’s a local car detailing and body work company that advertises how they take care of small dings and scratches on cars for a pretty decent price. I think this is a good idea because people are holding on to their cars longer now and getting some small dents and scratches fixed can help the car seem more like new.

Try to find a place like this in your area. Go in and they should be able to give you a free estimate on what it would take to fix those things. Maybe you don’t get them all done to save a few bucks but why not get them all done? If it’s $200, then add $400 onto the price of the car so that you profit from it.

Do Regular Maintenance Now

Go ahead and do regular auto maintenance things like getting the oil changed and fluids checked. You’ll be able to show the buyer that this work was recently done. It’ll show you care for the car and it’s something they won’t have to do.

Show The Car’s Maintenance Records

Hopefully you’ve kept a file folder or shoe box full of receipts that has anything to do with the car you’re selling. Most people do this. This is something good to show to buyers. They’ll feel going know that they have some records of history with the vehicle and can see when certain work was done. I do this and even keep oil change receipts in it… why not?

More Tips to Get Your Vehicle Ready

  1. Of course, clean the car and get it detailed.
  2. Take everything out of it – all your junk.
  3. Remove window and bumper stickers.
  4. Remove any accessories you’ve added.

It’s best to get your vehicle as close to stock condition as possible. Clean it good. Put in new car mats and add a nice air freshener – stuff like that. Make sure it doesn’t stink and make sure it’s nice and clean.


Again, putting some money into the car takes care of a few things. First, it’s something people can’t bring up when they’re looking the car over – I like to say “less things in the equation” meaning less obstacles and things in the way to get to your goal. Second, think of it as increasing the value of the car. Pay $200 in repairs and raise your asking price by $400 so that you’re making more money. Look at it that way instead of losing money by spending it on repairs because that’s not how it is.

Make sure you sell people a safe car and one they can see themselves driving and your sales job will be much easier.

How did I do? Did I cover everything? Do you have more ideas? If so, please leave those comments below. Also be sure to share this article!

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