Tips & Tricks for Pinellas & Nation-wide used car sellers (private party vehicle prep)

Table of Contents

Interior
  1. Remove the junk for immediate value increase
  2. Wires and phone mounts out of car
  3. Quick wipe
  4. Vacuum thoroughly
  5. Shampoo vehicle’s carpets and remove stains for buyers
  6. Clean & protect the vehicle dashboard
  7. Smells and foul odors can kill an auto sale
  8. Remove dog hair from car interior
  9. Remove stickers from car
  10. Clean interior windows
  11. Clean the trunk
Engine
  1. Top off fluids
  2. Clean engine
Exterior
  1. Wash with 2 bucket method
  2. Wheels need love too
  3. Door jams are often missed
  4. Is clay-bar worth it
  5. Wax for shine and fast sale
  6. Exterior vehicle window cleaning
  7. Wash the day of
Tips, Tricks & Doc Prep
  1. Cheap paint fix and dent removal
  2. Know the value before you go
  3. Prepare you vehicle title
  4. CarFax Report
  5. Gas her up!
  6. Recent Oil Change
  7. No bald tires!
  8. Working and new windshield wipers
  9. Air conditioning
  10. Check the lights!
  11. Headlight oxidation cleaner
  12. Tire shine is a go!
Bonus, on-site ONLY tips
  1. Beware of appraisal car salesmen
  2. Get multiple appraisals.
Pinellas County Dealerships for Appraisals

Importance of preparing your car for highest possible return upon selling

When it comes time to sell your car you may be wondering ‘How can I get the most money out of this deal?’ Good news, OfferMORE is here to help! From helping you with cleaning the car inside and out, to decided if fixing that small dent in the bumper is actually worth it. We’ve taken the time to gather some insights and helpful resources to help you get the most money for your vehicle in Pinellas County. These tips and tricks are also applicable on a nation-wide level.

Clean car prior to selling to maximize return

Clean cars yield more money and higher value when it comes time to sell

OfferMORE is happy to give our customers the highest possible offer for their used car, truck or SUV in the Pinellas County area. We purchase vehicles locally and prefer our clients take their cars to somewhere like CarMax in order to attain an appraisal. The tips and tricks we’ve outlined should help you get the highest possible appraisal value while minimizing the cost needed to achieve these results.

Selling private party, trade-in or car buying specialist

Regardless of how you plan to sell your car, the following breakdown will apply in order to help you get the highest possible amount of of money for your car, truck or SUV.

Vehicle Presentation is KEY to a Fast Sale

This should go without saying but one reason dealers might offer a lower appraisal happens when an inspector can’t see through the dirt and grime both on the body and interior of the vehicle. When an inspector cannot tell if potential stains, scratches and other blemishes can be remedied with an easy cleaning, they have to assume that every blemish is something that cannot be fixed. Some inspectors may even hit your vehicles carpet with a carpet cleaning spray to see if a stain can be lifted. However, most inspectors will not be this thorough unless the car carries a high value.

Start with the car’s interior

Prepping your car for the highest possible return, starts on the inside.

A clean interior can yield a higher offer

A clean interior can yield a higher offer

  • Firstly, remove the junk

    Start by removing all non-essentials. This includes emptying the glovebox and any compartments within the vehicle. Don’t overlook the trunk or any compartments which may lay beneath the partition above the spare tire. An inspector will otherwise have to guess if what lays beneath your junk is clean / undamaged or they are likely assume there is some hidden issue. The lower the value of the vehicle the less time they may spend bothering to move your clothing and beach towels around to see what might be hiding.

  • Remove wires and mounts

    Remove wires from cars dashboard

    Remove wires from cars dashboard

    We all have phone chargers sticking out of our center consoles these days but when it comes time to sell your car you need to clean every area. Removing these wires not only makes cleaning more efficient but also may expose more debris hidden around the charger port opening.

    Equally important, remove any phone or GPS mounts which may be coming off the vehicles dashboard, windshield or vents. These clutter up the dashboard and also may indicated to a private party buyer that you are not fully ready to sell your vehicle.

  • Quick wipe down of the interior.

    Wipe down the dashboard before vacuuming

    Wipe down the dashboard before vacuuming

    Start with dusting / wiping the dash and doors. Doing so will get all debris into areas such as the carpet and seats where you will be able to then vacuum it up. Do not use any liquid cleaners or polishers just yet.

  • Vacuum the vehicles interior.

    Remove all the mats from the vehicle, set them aside and vacuum the cars interior thoroughly. Be sure to get all areas. It can help to pull a crease in the seats apart and use the long, funnel extension on the vacuum to remove all the crumbs that get stuck in these areas. Clean under the seats as well.

    If you want some expert advice on how to get the best results when vacuuming the interior check out these resources:

    yourmechanic.com/article/how-to-vacuum-a-car-by-jason-unrau

  • Shampoo / carpet Clean the interior for a higher offer & MORE cash!

    If your carpets are a lighter color, such as grey or tan, you most likely have built up residue, stains, and hard to remove debris in your vehicles carpet. Taking the time to shampoo these areas clean can really help achieve a higher offer for your vehicle. Key reasoning here is bad stains that are difficult remove can seriously affect the offer value. When a vehicle inspector sees stains, he cannot decipher which are easy or hard to remove, so he is likely to give an estimate based on any stains being difficult or impossible to remove. Once you have shampooed the interior be sure to let the vehicle dry out for a few hours. If you car is riddled with stains it is quite likely you will end up with far less money after your car is sold.

    Recommended vehicle shampoo products:

    Chemical Guys: Amazon
    Adam’s Car Shampoo: Amazon

  • Clean the dash

    Use a non-shine, non-grease cleaner to thoroughly clean the interior of the vehicle. This is will really show off the condition of the vehicle and make for a quicker, higher appraisal offer. Ever buy a car with a dirty dash? Most likely the answer is ‘no’ and if you ever did, you likely paid less money than you would have for a cleaner car.

    Recommended dash protectant products:

    TriNova: Amazon
    303: Amazon

  • Clean the trunk!

    Often overlooked, cleaning the trunk of a vehicle can be a time-intensive task for a detailer. A lot of vehicles have hidden compartments and/or a spare tire. Getting into these compartments takes time. When a dealership has to have their detailer take extra time prepping your car for sale your appraisal value goes down.

  • Dog hair can ruin a car sale

    Remove dog hair before selling your car

    Remove dog hair before selling your car

    If you have been transporting your pup around and the vehicles interior is covered in dog hair you need to either take the time to properly clean it out or take it to a detailer to have it cleaned. This is where ROI (return on investment) comes in. Is it worth spending the money to have the hair removed? Most likely the answer is yes. However if you believe your vehicles value to be somewhere under one thousand dollars it won’t be worth paying a detailer $100 to remove the hair.

    Here’s a few resources on removing dog fur from your cars interior:

    washos.com – remove pet hair from car

    comparethemarket.com – detailing for dog hair

  • Remove stickers

    Making your car look its best to maximize the money you will be able to get when sale times comes is the underlying goal and removing stickers from the vehicle is just as important as cleaning the car. Buyers will otherwise have to do this after purchase and minimizing the list they create when thinking about the purchase is vital.

  • Window cleaning time (vehicles interior)

    Next, use automotive window cleaner to thoroughly clean the inside of the windows. Be sure to get every corner. You may have to use an extension to hit everything, but this is key to the final destination – your clean car being ready to sell. If you can’t see through your windows, you likely wont be seeing any extra money when it comes time to sell your car whether in Pinellas County or Alaska.

    Recommended dash protectant products:

    Invisible Glass: Amazon

  • Smell & Odors Will Kill a Car Sale

    Bad car odors can scare away a good offer for your vehicle when it comes time to sell

    Bad car odors can scare away a good offer for your vehicle when it comes time to sell

    If it doesn’t smell, don’t spray!

    Basically, if your vehicle doesn’t smell badly DO NOT spray any type of air or fabric freshener in it. When a vehicle appraiser smells the strong odor of air or fabric fresheners, he will likely assume you are masking a bad smell that will return when the freshener wears off. As some bad odors are very hard to remove, the overly strong smell of fresheners can be large red flags and cost your appraisal a significant amount.

    If it does smell, fix it. Luckily for you there a great deal of detail shops located in Pinellas County.

    ‘Fix’ is the key word here. If you simply mask the smell with air fresheners you might as well have done nothing in the first place. Read the paragraph above to see what we mean here if you haven’t already.

    How to remove bad odors from your vehicle:

    Cigarette stench

    Remove bad odors such as that of cigarette smoke

    Remove bad odors such as that of cigarette smoke

    If the bad odor you are tackling is related to smoking in your car you can start by simply quitting smoking, or at least quitting lighting up in the car. You might be surprised what a few days of letting it air out can do. Shampooing all the floors and seats is the next course of action. Often times the smell is stuck in the AC ventilation system. If that is the case you need to swap out the AC air filter if possible.

    Here’s a good article with more information on getting the smell of cigarette smoke out of your vehicle

    Mold & Other Hard to Remove Odors

    Removing bad odors can be both time-consuming and costly. Start by finding the odor. Open all the doors and let the car air out. Now use your nose! Smell the seats, the carpet and anywhere an odor can hide. It could be as simple as an old orange juice container or as bad as a rotten egg. Either of these scenarios can be helped with some basic carpet cleaning spray and a damp towel. If the smell in the car is due to moisture / mold or you simply cannot identify the source you may need to take it to a detail shop.

    Again though we are back at ROI. Unlike dog hair, a bad smell can be the kiss of death when it comes to your appraisal. If the an appraiser smells mold, body odor or any other smell which may be hard to remove they might even go as far as not offering anything in the event the cars value is less than a thousand dollars.

Engine Clean & Fluids

  • Top off the car, truck or SUV’s fluids

    Although this should be obvious, we see multiple cars each month with low fluids. From wiper fluid to to coolant, be sure you take the time to top off all the vehicle’s fluids. Low fluids could be an indication that the current owner (you) hasn’t been taking good care of the vehicle. This is yet another factor the potential buyer will have to deal with after purchase. By minimizing the “have to do’s” for the potential buyer, you will maximize the amount of money you will receive when selling your car.

  • Clean under the hood / engine.

    Clean the engine bay before selling your car

    Clean the engine bay before selling your car

    Before washing the cars exterior it’s best to first clean the engine. There are some great products at your local auto-part store to really get the grease and grime off the engine components. Use them at your own risk and be sure to read the instructions carefully. At a minimum, use a degreaser on a rag to thoroughly wipe the visible areas of the engine bay. * If you have a white or light colored car you may want to go ahead and use some paint safe soap and water to clean the under body of the hood where possible.

    Pinellas County is home to some of the nation’s best detailing shops, so if you need some assistance, be sure to check out our areas great local small business car cleaners, fully capable of making your engine SHINE!

    Recommended engine cleaning products:

    POR 15: Amazon

Preparing the vehicles exterior for a top-dollar Pinellas or nation-wide sale

Clean your car for a higher appraisal offer value

Clean your car for a higher appraisal offer value

How to wash your car for the best results.

    • Be sure your vehicle is parked in the shade or wash at night under bright lights. Never wash a vehicle in direct sunlight. Start with a thorough spray down of the paint. Be sure to really saturate the exterior and use pressure (not a pressure washer) to hit areas of large build up. We recommend using the two bucket method when washing your cars exterior. Put soapy water in one and clean water in the other. After washing a section use the clean water to rinse the sponge before dunking in the soapy bucket. This helps remove dirt from the sponge which could cause small scratches on the paint. Be extra thorough as not to miss any areas of the paint. Rinse every five minutes to prevent soap staining.

      Recommended car wash soap:

      Meguiars: Amazon

Cleaner car for a higher appraisal offer value

Cleaner car for a higher appraisal offer value

  • Wash the wheels! Be sure to take the time to really scrub the vehicles wheels and tires. Start with the rims and then scrub the tires. Depending on the finish of the rims you may want to use a degreaser to really get the dirt and break dust off the wheels.
  • Door jams are easy to clean!

    In most cases, cleaning the door jams is as simple as starting with a damp cloth and wiping the dirt away from the areas when the doors open. You may need to use a wet sponge but by cleaning the door jams you are basically saving the dealership time and helping to show off how great of condition your car is in. On the flip-side, if you have lots of scratches in the door jams you may want to leave these areas as they are.

  • Is clay-bar worth it?

    If you think the value of your vehicle is over six thousand we would suggest doing a clay-bar process on the paint after washing. Otherwise, the potential benefit in shine and surface smoothness likely will not warrant enough of an increase in value to make this process worth your time.

    Clay bar your vehicle before waxing if the value warrants the expense

    Clay bar your vehicle before waxing if the value warrants the expense

    Only clay-bar if you have the time to wax the vehicle after this process is complete. If you have a garage you could do it the next day so long as the car stays in the garage and is not driven that day. Clay-bar is best done while the vehicle is still wet. Use either a recommended clay-bar spray or window cleaner to saturate an area of the exterior prior to running the clay-bar over that section. Immediately rinse the are before moving onto the next. Clay-bar helps remove small debris from the surface of paint and is the best way to prepare a vehicle for wax as it also strips the old wax from the surface.

    Recommended clay-bar products:

    Mothers: Amazon
    Chemcial Guys: Amazon

  • Wax for shine & more dimes!

    Wax your car to impress an appraiser

    Wax your car to impress an appraiser

    If you clay-bar’d the vehicle you may want to start with a compound wax in order to protect the paint. Use clean microfiber towels to thoroughly wax each section of the paint one by one. We normally do two sections before coming back to the first section to remove the wax.

    Don’t over wax!

    Especially with compound wax be extra careful to not use too much wax as the wax will get caught in the door jams and in between the panels of the car making it very hard to remove once it dries.

    Carnauba for shine

    The wax that you need to use, whether clay-bar’d or not, is a good quality carnauba wax to bring out the vehicles shine. As a vehicle appraiser looks over a vehicles exterior, he will touch the paint to see if the vehicle has been waxed. If it has not been waxed, he has to add that to list of ‘to-dos’ as long as the vehicles value warrants the expense.

    Recommended wax products:

    Mothers: Amazon

  • Exterior window cleaning

    Clean the vehicles windows prior to selling

    Clean the vehicles windows prior to selling

    Again, use an automotive window cleaner to carefully and thoroughly clean the exterior of the windows.

  • Wash the day of getting the vehicle appraised.

    If you have the time to wax the vehicle you can go ahead and wash the car ahead of the wax. You may have to re-wash the car the morning of taking it in for the appraisal in the event it gets dirty. If you don’t have the time to do a good wax, wait till the day of taking her in for the appraisal to do the wash.

Tips, Tricks & Document Prep

  • Cheap paint fix and dent removal

    Remove dents if possible before selling your car

    Remove dents if possible before selling your car

    If you have a higher value vehicle and have a few scratches here and there or possibly some small dents it might yield a positive ROI to have a professional repair the issues. These types of smaller repairs can sometimes be done under a few hundred dollars and affect the price by double or more. Dealers also prefer clean, scratchless vehicles as these are much easier for them to sell.

  • Know the value before you go

    Utilize an online vehicle value checking software such as Kelly Blue Book to find out the value of your vehicle before you take it in for an appraisal. Be sure to take note of multiple buyer options. If you are selling on the private party marketplace you will want to select that option and you may notice the value increase significantly.

  • Prepare you vehicle title

    Some dealerships will require you have a valid title in hand proving that you are capable of selling the vehicle. This might involve a trip to the DMV in the event you cannot find your title. Here’s a quick shortcut to the Pinellas County vehicle title website: taxcollect.com/titles/

  • CarFax Report

    Save the dealership some by preparing a CarFax report and having it printed for the appraiser. Also, most private party buyers will likely want to see this document prior to making the purchase as well.

    Ready to get your CarFax report today? Use this link: CarFax Report

  • Gas her up!

    When you arrive at the dealership you should have at least three quarters tank of gas. This helps the dealership save time as they will not have to worry about putting gas in the car during it’s lifetime at the dealership. If you are selling on the private party marketplace a potential buyer will have one less thing on their mind as don’t have to worry about taking the car straight to the gas station if they buy it.

  • Recent Oil Change

    Much like the previous topic, this helps a potential buyer see that they do not have to worry about getting this done after purchase.

  • No bald tires!

    If you are trying to maximize the amount of money you can get for your car, you certainly want to make sure you are not selling a vehicle with bald tires. Bald tires tell a potential buyer that the owner may not be taking great care of the car in more ways than just the wheels. Also, you could be setting yourself up for a liability in the event the new owner blows a tire on the way home. If the budget is tight you can always purchased used tires at a reasonable price. Just make sure the front two tires are matching and the rear two tires are matching.

  • Working and new windshield wipers

    Make sure the wipers work and that the blades are not worn out. New wiper blades can often be purchased for as little as $10. This is simply one more “to do” factors that start to stack up on a buyers mind.

  • Air conditioning

    If you are preparing your car for sale in Pinellas County, or anywhere where the heat is a major issue, you want to make sure the air conditioning is running as cool as possible. You may have become conditioned to accept sub-par air as it often happens over the course of time, so you may want to have a friend sit in your car and assess the air conditioning. Often it is as simple as adding freon which can be done by any proper mechanic for a reasonable price. When a buyer sits in your car, in the heat, and cranks on ice cold air it could easily make the sale.

  • Check the lights!

    Light bulbs for most cars, whether headlights or tails, are very inexpensive and you should certainly take the extra time to make certain all the lights on the car work. Yet another “something I gotta do” factor.

  • Headlight oxidation cleaner

    Are your headlights oxidized? If so, take the time to clean the oxidation. For most cars that can be easily accomplished by purchasing a simple kit from the local auto parts store. Foggy headlights will make your car look old and of course, the opposite is true; crystal clear headlights can completely change the look of the car, making it look brand new along with a shimmering paint job. Here’s a great resource for removing the oxidation from your lights: How to Restore Severely Oxidized Headlights

  • Tire shine is a go!

    It’s time to put the works on her! You may have generally been staying away from tire shine but it’s time to spend the extra money, maybe just even five bucks on good, pad applied tire shine. Tire shine next to clean wheels and clear headlights really creates the appearance of both a beautiful and also well maintained car.

Bonus, on-site ONLY tips

  • Beware of appraisal car salesmen

    Beware of the car salesmen when you take your car in for an appraisal

    Beware of the car salesmen when you take your car in for an appraisal

    When you take your car to the dealership it may be hard to get an appraisal. Most likely the first person you will speak to will be a salesmen. His number one question will be “What kind of car are you interested in”. He knows you want to sell your car and buy another. An easy out here is to tell a little white lie. “I’m not buying another car, I already did. It’s at home” or “I’m actually leaving the country for a year”.

    Pinellas County, Fl is home to a great deal of used car salesmen and if you are headed out to get an appraisal or sell your car, be prepared for a true mental battle in order to get the most money for your car or highest possible appraisal.

    You can try to be firm about just wanting to sell and not buy, but most salesmen are very good at their job and will find a way to convince you to have a look at a car or two. Stay the course! Tell them you don’t have time for that and are going to leave if they can’t give you an appraisal. The next sale you have to look out for is their offer for your vehicle. They will try to convince you that their offer is the highest you will find in the local marketplace. Be firm and request a printed out copy of the offer. Now end the conversation. Be kind and thank them as they have performed a service for you.

  • Get multiple appraisals.

    *By going out and getting multiple appraisals you will find that each dealership will offer you a different amount. We recommend setting aside a whole day to go from dealership to dealership getting offers. Once you believe you have a strong offer, look for a company that promises to beat all other offers such as OfferMORE in the Pinellas County, Florida area.

Pinellas County Dealerships for Appraisals

Here’s a quick list of a few recommended dealerships for getting an appraisal in the Pinellas County, Florida area:

Other great sources:
Automotive Directory
http://www.autoelf.com

(727) 871-MORE Contact Us
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