how to prepare your car for sale

How to Prepare Your Car For Sale

how to prepare your car for sale

Unless you own a unique one of a kind car, then chances are you will be up against some competition from other sellers when it comes to selling your car. You add needs to appeal to buyers for them to come and spend their hard earned money with you.

So How Do We Go about this?

Below is our tried and tested method we have used over and over again, in order to get our cars to sell as fast as possible and making us as much money as possible. We have listed the process you need to follow in order to get your car ready for sale and for it to stand out amongst the crowd.

Cleaning Phase

Engine Bay Clean & Examine

1. Clean and Degrease the Engine Bay (30 mins – 1hr)

Use a hosepipe on a low sprinkle setting to wet your engine bay (do not use a powered pressure washer at risk of damaging anything). Cover up any exposed elements of the engine with a plastic bag. Spray on some engine degreaser and clean out the engine bay with a soft bristle brush. Be careful around hoses and tubes. Once thoroughly clean take your hosepipe again and on the sprinkle setting, lightly wash off all the dirt and grime. Take a clean microfiber cloth wipe down any excess water and clean up any other visible dirt. You may find you need to repeat this step a few times depending on how dirty the engine bay is.

Next, take a plastic trim finishing product such as ‘ back to black’ and spray over all the black plastic trim to bring back the shine. You will find your engine bay now looks clean, well maintained and presentable.

Take time to examine the sides of the engine bay for any trapped leaves and debris which can build up and begin to clog your engine bay.

2. Examine Engine and top up fluids

Take time to check the oil level, coolant level, power steering fluid and windscreen washer fluid are all suitably topped up. Be careful not to overspill any liquid on your freshly cleaned engine bay.

Take time to examine the hoses and belts to see if there no noticeable cracks or visible damage anywhere. Once you have completed this you are done with this stage,

Here is an after shot of one of the engine bays we recently cleaned out.

How to Buy a Car from Northern Ireland

Exterior Clean (1-2 days depending on time)

1. Thoroughly wash the exterior of the car with a good quality pressure washer, making sure you get in between the wheels and blast out dirt and grime build up from hard to reach areas.

2. Dry off the car using a leather chamois.

3. We then use a clay bar kit to go over the paint in a small circular fashion one panel at a time. You will be surprised how much smoother your paintwork feels when you do this and how much physical dirt the clay will remove deep within your paint.

4. We then use a light polish such as T CUT again panel by panel to smooth out any imperfections in the paintwork and get rid off any light scuffs or scratches.

5. Clean all exterior glass including windscreen, mirrors and lights

6. The final step in the exterior clean it to apply a coat of car wax to protect the hard work we have just done and really bring out the shine in the car.

Your car will now look fantastic!

How to Buy a Car from Northern Ireland

There are two ways to go about this method, if you have the time we suggest you do the work yourself or if not you can outsource all or some of the process to a local car hand wash or car detailer.

Interior Clean

1. Remove all junk from the car, remember to check under seats and all nooks and crannies, just under the carpet in the boot and remove the spare tyre and clean underneath.

2. Check for any mildew or mould buildup anywhere and suitably clean

3. Remove car mats and asses if it’s worth cleaning them or buying a new set of cheap universal car mats. We suggest if the car mats are part of an original set you do everything you can to clean them up. We suggest to vacuum then first and then wet vac and steam clean them.

4. Steam Clean the Car seats if they are cloth removing any horrible stains, and if leather, clean them down with a leather cleaner and then use a leather conditioner to restore them and make then smell like brand new leather again,

5. Thoroughly vacuum in the interior getting into all crevices, be sure to get under the seats and also in the boot. If stains and dirt still exist use a steam cleaner and then vacuum over it again.

6. Steam clean the interior trim of the car eliminating any sticky marks over buttons and in the cup holder region, clean the dash, steering wheel and all storage areas inside the car.

7. Clean the interior glass of the vehicle including any digital displays

8. Deodorise the vehicle with a neutral air freshener such as a febreeze

9. Ensure you check the dashboard to see if there are no error or warning messages such as bulbs needing replacement, or ‘check engine’ lights (if so connect a Diagnostic Tool) to read the fault codes.

Check Condition of Tyres

Use a tread depth gauge to check the tread on the tyres of your car including the spare (if it exists) the minimum amount of tread on a car to make it road legal is 1.6mm in the UK.

You don’t want to sell a car with bald, damaged or defective tyres. We don’t recommend going out and buying brand new tyres unless you can help it unless we opt to replace only the tyres that need replacing with good quality part worn tyres. Try to stick to the same brand of tyre all the way around the car


Now that your car is looking stunning, it’s time to take the photos on the same day to capture it looking its best.

12 pictures (3 engine, 3 interior, 3 exterior, 3 pictures of any imperfections with your car and 1 of the paperwork you have with the car laid out)

Now, this is extremely important you must have these pictures. You want a potential seller know everything about your car. This starts with the pictures before the buyer even reads your ad they will have looked at the pictures. You take bad pictures and they won’t even bother reading your ad.

It’s also important to show the imperfections. You want the buyer to see them before they even call. If they don’t like what they see that’s fine you just saved yourself from wasting time. If they see the imperfections and still come and try to buy then you don’t have to drop the price because they knew about that impaction before they even called!

Below is just an example of how to take the photographs, we are not professional photographers and neither do you have to be, we simply snap these with our iphone and we are good to go.


Bonus TIP: Record a short video walkaround of your car. Including the interior and upload The video to youtube. You can now share the link of the video in your ads. This gives your ad a competitive edge as most other sellers will not be bothered to do this.

Gather All Paperwork

Ensure you have all the paperwork for your car in a neat folder ready for the sale.

  • V5 ( Logbook) ensure you have the most up to date copy, if you don’t have one then you will need to apply for one through the DVLA, you can still sell a car without however be prepared to drop £25 for the cost of getting a new one.


  • MOT – Start with the most recent and then place all the subsequent MOT papers behind it in chronological order making it easier to be examined by the new buyer


  • Repair Invoices – Again sort these in Chronological order, this gives the impression you are well organised and have looked after your car since you have had it. If you have had any expensive repairs done by a garage and don’t have the receipt we suggest you call them and get them to print you out another copy. It’s always better if you can prove certain work has been done rather than telling someone to take your word for it,


  • Service History – If you have the book make sure its stamped upto the last service being completed, if you only have invoices then make sure they are all present in chronological order, most buyers will usually ask ‘when the last service took place’, therefore its better to present them documentation to prove when it was.


  • Keys – Cars usually have 2-3 keys when new from a factory, buyers like to see all keys present with the car, ensure you have the spare keys and keep them with the paperwork ready for sale.

List Your Car

Having maximum exposure for your car is key, you need to list your car in all places where people will look. You need to understand that not everyone will look in the same place so it’s important to diversify.

The key places you HAVE to list your cars are below, these are not the only places however once you have covered these places you can list your cars on other platforms.

Gumtree – Classified Site

Facebook Marketplace – If you are not on Facebook get someone to place the add for you or consider making an account just to list your cars.

Shpock Mobile App – Great mobile app to list your car for Free

Ebay – Consider Classified or Auction Style ads

Autotrader – Perhaps the most well-known car selling site, however definitely the most expensive

Ad Listing Strategy

Place your car listing on ALL the FREE sites first, then also take out a £10 Classified Ad on eBay.

We find this usually helps sell our car within 1-3 weeks of listing.

If you mind little to no interest we then suggest purchasing an Autotrader Advert, this is the more expensive so it’s worth purchasing the 6-week advert as value for money.

If you have followed our guide and purchased your vehicle correctly you will already have a built-in price buffer when you come to sell your car. When selling your car we suggest you don’t get too greedy with the price, if someone shows up and offers you money close to your asking price … take it! And move onto the next car. Those who get too caught up trying to recoup every last penny often sell their cars at a much slower rate

Helpful Tools

Read our guide on how to Sell Your Car

Get your hands on our Car Selling Bundle (Includes a full car selling checklist, Ad Template and a copy of the receipt we use when selling a car


There are some prior prep work and a little bit of legwork that will need to be done before you list your car for sale, we want to reinforce that you want to be selling what appears to be the best product on the market. A little bit of effort in getting this right will go along way in getting you to sell your car quicker and for the max amount of money possible.

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