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Preparing the Exterior- 8 Ways to Wow Your Buyer

First impressions can count for a lot, and nowhere is that more true than when it comes to selling your car. So how can you make your car’s exterior stand out from the crowd? Keep reading for the eight things you need to do to have the best-looking used car on the market.

1) Remove stickers and logos. While you may feel strongly about your favorite sports team, charitable cause, or political candidate, your buyer will not be excited about their next car displaying someone else’s opinions. Remember that you want to make the exterior look as nearly as possible like it just came from the factory – that’s what sells. A razor blade works great for stickers in the windows, and a mild solvent like WD-40 will help you remove the adhesive from painted surfaces.

2) A good, thorough wash. This one is maybe so obvious that we shouldn’t have to even mention it, but simple basic cleanliness will go a long way. It’s also the essential first step in really making that paint job shine. Also, dry your car the right way with lint-free, natural fiber cloth.

3) Exterior detailing. There’s a chance that even a good wash job was not enough to remove 100% of the contaminants that can plague a paint job. Bugs, bird droppings, sap-covered debris from trees – all these can be tough to remove by conventional washing alone. For the things that get left behind, many professionals use a bar of automotive detailing clay. When used with a lubricating spray, it will pick up anything sticking up from the surface of the paint, even very small particulates from air pollution. However, it won’t fix any imperfections in the paint itself. For that, you’ll need a polishing compound or other mild abrasive to remove oxidation.

4) Repair the minor scratches. At this point, you may notice the shallow scratches or chips that have accumulated on your car’s finish over the years from exposure to small road debris and whatever else the world has thrown at it. The good news is that you can now buy inexpensive kits for repairing scratches in the clearcoat, and you can often find touch-up paint at a parts store or dealership as well.

5) Now you can finally wax. Carnauba wax will produce a great-looking shine that should last 2-3 months, and a second coat will provide even more longevity. It’s definitely a must for having a stand-out car. If you’ve seen The Karate Kid, then you probably know how to wax a car, and keep in mind that a little goes a long way.

6) New light assemblies. Once the paint and glass are spruced-up and shiny, you’ll probably notice that certain other areas of your car are a little dull in comparison – specifically the headlights and taillights. Over time, exposure to the sun can give the plastic on your lights a dull, opaque appearance. This is not only unappealing, but it can reduce visibility as well. New aftermarket lights in the front and back will make a big difference here, and the small investment involved is well worth the like-new look they will give your car.

7) Brighten up those wheels and tires. Wheels can get covered in road dirt and brake dust, and the same goes for tires. None of that is doing your car any favors in the looks department. Some soapy water and a stiff-bristled brush will do wonders to remove all the gunk from your wheels. When it comes to shining up your tires, you have many products to choose from, many of which will be available at your local auto parts store.

8) Clean the inside of all the window glass. This is for those who really want to go the extra mile. You already washed the outside of the windows, but the inside can accumulate fingerprints and other residue that can give the glass a dull appearance, even so. It’s another outward sign of automotive aging that you want to erase before looking for a buyer, and you’ll be glad you did.

Not only will a great-looking car bring that “wow” factor, but it communicates something else to the buyer, perhaps only subconsciously – that you’ve taken great care of your car, just for them.That will translate into real dollars at the time of sale which will be worth the effort.