If you're going to go through the effort of selling your own car, make it worth your time and effort. People do judge a book by its cover. If your car is scratched and dented with missing hub caps and a broken rear view mirror, you'll get something for it. But not as much as a shiny car with polished chrome. Take care of the following details before putting that car on the market and get top dollar for it.
Get rid of stains on the upholstery and fix those tiny tears. Vacuum and shampoo the carpet and floor mats. Wipe off the dash and other leather components with a sealer that makes the material shine and keeps it from collecting dust. Fix or replace the rear view mirror if cracked. Buy a steering wheel cover to hide the wear and tear on the old steering wheel. If you smoked in the car, find a cleaner that removes the smell of smoke and treat the seats, carpet and headliner.
Give your car a thorough washing and waxing. If the paint is faded or you have a lot of little body panel dents, consider spending a few hundred dollars at a paint and body shop like Franks Auto Body Inc. Few things will make your car look better than a fresh paint job. People will overlook a few minor problems when your car looks like it just drove off the assembly line.
Remove any rust from the chrome pieces and polish them to a shine. Scrub all of the lens covers. Use toothpaste to scrub any lens covers that look foggy. Replace any missing hubcaps. Scrub all of the tires, including the spare, and use tire black on the sidewalls for a rich look.
Steam clean the engine and wipe away any grease or oil spots. Remove torn or rotten insulation under the hood and replace with a heat-resistant material made for engine hoods.
Take everything out of the trunk. Vacuum and shampoo any carpet in the trunk. Check that the spare tire, jack and any other tools for changing a tire are in place.
Have any chips in the windshield repaired. If you have a cracked windshield, consider getting it replaced. If you put a lot of time getting your car cleaned up, a cracked windshield is still going to detract from the car.
Tune Up Time
Get the car tuned up. No matter how nice the car looks, if it runs rough, it will still be hard to sell. An oil change, new spark plugs and wires is the minimum to do to get the engine ready.
Doing this much to your car before you sell it is a gamble. But putting a few hundred dollars into the car to get a couple thousand more on the selling price can be a good investment.