Clean cars Sell

Preparing your car for sale

Clean yourself up

No I’m not casting aspersions against your personal hygiene I mean your car.

Its easy,  will take a few hours ,  add hundreds to the value of your car and most importantly will sell it to the first caller giving you time to get on with your life.

I am in the Motor trade a long time.   I have trained eyes  I can see through dirt to spot a good car ahead of something that’s just been tarted up.

So why after all these years am I still drawn to shiny things?   There are evolutionary reasons why as humans we judge books by their cover and are massively swayed by first impressions.   This is a discussion for another type of website, but it’s a basic fact.   Now I won’t be fooled by a shiny thing,  If I examine a car at close quarters and get that irresistible aroma of fresh paint and see the dashboard has had a nice coat of some Brylcream like substance I will soon realise it.   But the facts are I have arrived at an auction/sales yard and walked past five good but dirty cars and made a beeline for the shiny thing.

So why do some people put their cars up for sale and expect to sell them, When the car is dirty and smelly?

The worst offence is attempting to present your car for part exchange at a garage or car supermarket when it is dirty.  A lot of people are under the impression that garages will offer “book value” for your car no matter how you show it.   While it is true that garages work off book valuations there is a big difference between   “Top book and Bottom book”.   Your job is to sell your car to the salesperson or dealer, as something that they want and are willing to give the premium for.  To do this you need to be enthusiastic about your car and present it at its best.   A car with dirty ashtrays,  Fast food boxes strewn over the back seats,   Puke encrusted baby seats,  A boot inexplicably full to the brim with house or work debris, centre console/ full of cd cases and papers etc  you are just begging to be insulted .  And you will be having that “I thought it was worth more than that “conversation with yourself later

A quick word about car salespeople.   They can be sold as well,  Ultimately a good salesperson is proactive in trying to do deals,  this is how they earn money and if you have managed to convince them that your car is a nice one, they are more inclined to try to convince the sales manager to allow them to give the extra £400 for your car to do the deal.  So shiny thing good….Remember!!

I’m going to give you some car valeting/car detailing tips. I’m doing this because I like to keep my own cars clean and over the years I have built up a full assortment of every possible car cleaning product or tool in my garage.

If you don’t have any such products and are not inclined to purchase them,  or you  can think of a thousand other things you would rather do than clean your car in your spare time that’s fair enough.  I know where you are coming from, you don’t need to read on any further but take this advice with you as the bare minimum you should do.

Situation A:   Your car is a shed, and its value is more like hundreds than thousands.  You can run it through a car wash for £3 and then blow another quid on a quick vacuum.  If you have any energy left after that just run a damp (not wet) cloth over the dash and any interior plastics you can.   If you are feeling a bit more adventurous a baby wipe works wonders on scruffy plastic.   Realistically the value of a very cheap car is more influenced by how much tax and mot it has left on it, but it could still be the difference between being offered £200 for scrap or £500.   Either way you will see a return on your £4 investment!

Situation B:  Your car is worth a few quid, possibly under 6-year-old.   Then get a bin bag and take your clutter out of the car and book it in for a professional valet.   A Proper full valet will cost you £50 to £75 depending on where you are.   The mobile valet guys work hard for their money, but if you can you are better off dropping your car off somewhere with premises. They generally get better results.

A £75 quid valet on a car you are getting rid of?   Bit of a waste of money!  Just to illuminate my earlier point heres today’s trade book values on two example cars:

2005(55) Ford Focus 1.6 Zetec Climate 5dr  60K  . Clean Book Value  £3600.                  Below average Book Value £2600.

2008(08) Volvo XC90 D5 Se Geartronic 5dr 25K. Clean book Value £19,900.                  Below Average Book Value £17,500.

That’s trade value. Not the difference between retail and trade,  But trade price high and low.  Does That £75 quid still look expensive?

There are better informed sites out there to give you info on car detailing,  you should go and Google them……. but not until you have read my very brief opinion.

Washing.  If you are thinking of investing £100 on a power washer from B+Q or Halfords etc, don’t bother.  A garden hose is every bit as effective.  The only time a Pressure washer is of any use is when you spend above £800 quid on a proper hot water boiler washer. With this you can do your car, roof tiles, your boat, Quads,  even the gazebo in your Japanese gardens!   In the real world a hose is fine.  Make sure you get under the sills and wheel arches.   If you can’t be bothered to do this go to a drive through wash,  they are only a fiver (a few young lads near me now do it for £3!)  and invest the extra pound or two to get your car dried as this is as  beneficial as the wash.

Waxing.   I was brought up old school with a tin of Turtle wax.  Good product, but labour intensive.   For the last twenty years I have only used Autoglym products.  They don’t give me backhanders to plug them, they don’t need to everybody knows they are industry standard.

If your car really is a filthy beast covered in Tar etc then just get it Valeted as it’s not worth investing in all the pre-cleaning products etc you will need to polish a turd.   If your car is normal then Autoglyms Super Resin Polish will have it like new.  Do one side at a time (apply and remove wax) and give it some strong wrist/fingernail action on scratches/pollen or tar. It has cutting properties and will take off a lot of noticeable marks.    When removing polish always use two cloths,  A first shine to take off 90% of the residue and a final shine to give the car a final run over.   I do this last thing and find those microfiber cloths you can buy in the pound shops ideal.

Hoover the interior and wipe off all door edges with a damp cloth,  remember one of the most impressionable moments is when a potential buyer opens the driver’s door.   If it’s covered in dirty grease and old muck stains it’s not good.   A good wipe of the dash/plastics and door cards with a damp cloth is always going to make a big improvement.   If the plastics are piggy then baby wipes are a great tool.   Go over a scruffy car two or three times with baby wipes and it will remove some stains you thought were never going away.

Once an interior is clean that is good enough.  A quick spray of neutradol is good or any other home product you have (usually best to spray under seats).   A bad mistake is to use some cheap silicon wipe that makes your dashboard and steering wheel all greasy.  Just clean is fine.   It won’t add much value but if you do want me to recommend a product, then again Autoglyms Vinyl and rubber care, will give your interior a nice no greasy shine and also smells good.

Washing and waxing your wheels should be good enough.  If they are alloys and badly pitted with brake dust you can use an alloy wheel detergent.   You want to spray the wheel then attack with your old toothbrush,  then hose off within a minute.  So one wheel at a time, and as I say only use on  really dirty rims.

Clean Windows make a big difference, make sure you do inside and out .  Dont use household products, again Autoglym have some products and FastGlass is the easiest to use.  If you don’t have anything else use a damp chamois(leather).  You can  lightly wax the outside of your windows but Never your Windscreen.  Do this and you will go blind the second it rains.

Don’t use tyre paint if such a thing still exists?   Most tyre shines are fine, again Autoglym Instant tyre dressing gives tyres that shiny new look with just a spray.

If you ever consider buying a buffer to polish your cars professionally don’t.  A cheap one under £50 will have no power and will be more hassle than it’s worth.  A pro buffer will burn the paint off your baby in less than 5 seconds, and powder coat all your edges in white waxy residue.  Strictly for pro use.

If you have scratches on your car that look like they were applied with a screwdriver there’s not much you can do with them.  But you would be surprised how many scuffs and light scratches will polish out.  Super resin polish will take out the light ones,  for something heavier I have professional abrasives from 3M and Farecla.   You can have a rummage under the kitchen sink and look for something with light abrasive qualities (no not a brillo pad !) I have used brasso and found a wood polish that does the job.  If you’re stuck even toothpaste can take the bad look off a scuff( and leaves your car feeling minty fresh !!)

Thinking of taking care of some touch ins?  Be very careful,  make sure you are touching in actual scratches and stone chips.  I have seen cars with touched in Birdlime and tar.  Be very selective in touching in,  If your car has three or four bad stone chips, on the leading edge of your bonnet that are an eyesore then touching in is good.  If your car is pebble dashed with chips don’t even start.  A car that’s had the dot printer treatment looks rubbish and it will take you all day.

Okay I think I will leave it there.  I will possibly come back with some more tips for the car fetishists, who like to take the wheels off to clean the insides but that’s another chapter.

Okay get Scrubbing !