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things to do before selling your car

Fixing Your Car Before Selling: A Guide

Reading Time: 6 minutes

Want to know what things to do before selling your car? This is the guide for you. Below, our experts here at Direct Express Auto Transport have compiled a checklist of 9 essentials to cover before putting your car up for sale. Taking care of these 9 things to do before selling your car will give you a better a chance of making a timely sale at a price you’ll love — without having to sit through 15 test drives in the process. While some of these tips will cost you a bit of extra cash, that’s money you can put on top of your asking price. In the end, you’ll have every reason to end up in the green. Check out these 9 things to do before selling your car, and ship your vehicle with our trusted team here at Direct Express Auto Transport.



Tires are typically the first thing that car buyers will look at when doing an exterior inspection of a vehicle. Savvy car shoppers know how to spot tires that have worn down treads, and nearly all shoppers will raise their standards for what they consider “acceptable” when shelling out cash for a car. For this reason, you want your tires looking as new as possible. You also want them to ride well. If potential buyers request test drives, a bad set of tires with quickly show themselves during the ride, which can cause some buyers to have anxiety about the rest of the car.

To prep for a visit from a potential buyer, fill your tires up to the proper PSI that is recommended in your car’s manual. Don’t have the manual? Look up the proper PSI for your make and model online. If your existing tires look new enough and have a noticeably deep tread, you are probably good to go. A set of new tires can run you several hundred dollars. That investment probably isn’t worth it for an existing set that are only six months to a year old, or on a car that will only sell for a couple thousand dollars total.


At some point in the car inspection, the potential buyer is going to have you get in the car as they walk around the outside and check the headlights and taillights. Simulate this process with a spouse, buddy, or coworker before selling your car — preferably during the evening or nighttime. You want to see how your lights perform when it counts. Replace bulbs that are completely kaput and ones that are significantly dimmer than their neighbors. Remove and clean any foggy lamps to bring them back up to their natural luminosity. You can pay for a semi-expensive buffing kit, or you can buff up those bulbs with some white toothpaste and elbow grease. One of the most affordable fixes on this list, working lights are a legal must-have for any car. Make sure yours are ready to go before selling.


From one of the most affordable fixes to the most expensive, it’s now time to talk about brakes. Bad brakes are not only a major safety risk, they’re also easily noticeable by anyone taking a test drive. Sure, you might be used to how slow it takes your car to come to a stop, but car buyers won’t have that same familiarity. If your brakes require a lot of force, or if they create any grinding noises or sensations, it may be time to get them replaced. Invest in new breaks and you will stand a better chance of getting prospective buyers to stick around. Better safe than sorry.


Though not tied as closely to performance as the above products, windows play a huge role in any car’s appearance. Buyers notice if you have got a crack or chip in your windows, and your car’s value immediately drops. Do a quick once-over of your windows and take them into an auto body shop to have any cracks and chips addressed. After that, you’ll want to check to make sure your windows actually work. If you have power windows, this means making sure each one rolls up and down. You may have survived for years with a back window stuck at half-mast, but your buyers won’t be so tolerant. Get your power windows fixed, or your asking price will suffer.

Wash and Detail

A good wash and detail can cost you over a hundred dollars. But it’s one-hundred percent worth it. When done properly, a deep wash and detail can take stains that have been there for years out of your fabric seats. It will also give your car that fresh new-car smell, which can go a long way in taking years off your car’s age — at least as far as appearances go. This can make all the difference for buyers choosing between two or more vehicles. Do a deep wash and detail at the very end of your prep process so your car looks its best when the buyers arrive.

Oil Change

When looking under the hood, one thing that most people know how to do is to check the dipstick. Don’t be a dipstick yourself and forget to put fresh oil on your car before putting it up for sale. Even if buyers don’t check the dipstick, they’re almost certainly going to ask you when your most recent oil change was. (If they’re going to end up buying the car, they’ll need to know when to get the next oil change.) Get an oil change right before selling it, then keep the paperwork to show potential buyers how recently your vehicle has been serviced. Changing your oil is one cheap way to show that you really care about giving buyers a well-serviced car.

Change and Refill Fluids

Speaking of servicing cars, when you take your soon-to-be-old car in to get its oil changed, make sure that your service station is changing and refilling your fluids. Just like with an oil change, get your dated receipt for this fluid change and top off to show your buyer that you are giving them the car in great condition with the coolant, wiper blade fluid, and all of the other levels up to the tippy top. It will give your potential buyers peace of mind that will help justify your price and potentially push them over the edge to a purchase.

Wiper Blades

New wiper blade fluid doesn’t do much good with bad blades. No amount of liquid is going to save you from that dreaded, nails-on-a-chalkboard screeching. (Talk about a quick way to end a test drive.) In this situation, the only thing that will save you is changing your wiper blades. Maybe you live in Los Angeles or Phoenix and you haven’t had to use your wiper blades more than one or two times per year for the past five years. The person who’s buying your car won’t care. He or she will want blades that work. The good news? Changing your wiper blades is relatively cheap, and you can get it done at virtually any auto shop.

Touch Up Paint

If you have never touched up your car before, this task might seem like the most daunting and potentially the most expensive of any of these fixes on this list. If you’re still reading, you’ll be happy to know that touching up your car’s paint doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. Buy a bottle of touch up paint online or from your local dealership. These bottles usually only run you $20 or so each. (Make sure you triple check that you’re buying the right color!) Watch a YouTube video or two on how to properly touch up scratches and discoloration on your vehicle. Painting your car is not the same thing as painting a wall or a canvas. With a little focus, you’ll have those problem areas spiffed up in no time. Of course, you can always take your car in to an auto body shop for a professional paint job. It will cost you at least several hundred dollars — an investment we recommend making only for higher-priced sales.

Learn More and Ship Your Car With Our Team at Direct Express Auto Transport

When you get these fixes done and are ready to sell your spiffy, new-looking car for the highest possible value, consider widening your selling radius to reach more potential buyers. You never know who may be interested in your car several states away. If you do end up selling to an out-of-state buyer, make sure you are shipping your car with a reliable auto transportation company. Our experts here at Direct Express Auto Transport have been leading the industry in safe, reliable, and affordable car shipping for several decades. Get an online quote from us in seconds with our Original Auto Transport Quote Calculator and complete your sale with our trusted team today! Want to learn more about our shipping services? Need extra information on things to do before selling your car? Contact us to speak with a member of our team today!

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