Watch all of our Autoblog Details videos for more tips on car cleaning and maintenance by professional detailer Larry Kosilla. While you’re at it, check out Larry’s other video series on how to diagnose, fix, and modify cars, Autoblog Wrenched!
[00:00:30] If new mats are out of the budget, be sure to vacuum, fabric clean, and scrub the carpet at minimum. Once the mats are a bit cleaner, you can create the illusion of new mats by wiping the mat with a scrub brush in opposite directions called carpet lines. Remember, perception is everything when selling a used car. Inevitably a new buyer will lift the hood and look at the engine. Having a gunk-covered, dusty engine is a real turn-off.
[00:01:00] Lightly wiping down the plastic components with a damp towel can make a world of difference. Likewise, vacuum out any leaves or sticks that may be stuck in the hood jambs. Compressed air can be wildly helpful in these spots. Once clean, add a water-based tire dressing to the black plastic for a deep, rich look, but be sure to lightly wipe down the shine with a dry cloth afterwards. Heavy shine attracts dust, and you don’t wanna look too eager with a dripping wet engine. Subtlety is key here.
[00:01:30] As the seller, you’ve been in and out of your car a thousand times. A perspective buyer, however, has never sat in your particular car before, so think about the first time you sat in your car. How did it feel? How did it smell, and how did it look? Clearly turning back the clock is not possible, but focusing your attention to the driver’s side door, seat bolster, center console, door handle, and steering wheel are all places the driver must notice every time they get in the car.
[00:02:00] So if you’re gonna spend any time getting into the nitty-gritty details and fine touches, train your eye to see everything you would touch when you get in and drive away, because the potential new owner is gonna notice them on the test drive. Having a terrible smell can and will prevent the sale of a used car. In fact, cars have been considered totaled by insurance companies because of this devastating or uninhabitable odor. First, open all the doors of your car and remove any and all personal items.
[00:02:30] If there is an odor, try to locate the source of the smell and scrub and vacuum the surrounding areas. Next, consider removing and replacing your vehicle’s cabin filter. Adding flavorful scents to mask the smell will only create an even weirder smell, and raise the red flag to your potential buyer. If you absolutely must use a scent, stick to the fresh or the carpet cleaner-type smells. Pink bubblegum or fruity apple spice is not gonna cut it. I’m sure it goes without saying, but the first impression of any car is the outside, or in other words, the paint and the wheels.
[00:03:00] Having flawless paint can increase the value of your car by five to even 10%, but spending hours compounding and polishing to then sell it may not be feasible. But at the very minimum, wash and wax your paint. This will give even the worst of paint conditions a pretty face. Likewise, wheels or rims can cost as much as entire vehicles in some cases, so the importance of having them immaculate weighs heavily on the minds of buyers in today’s market.
[00:03:30] Spend the time cleaning the inside and the outside of the wheels and those knuckle-busting tight spots. Trust me, it’s worth the effort. I’ll leave you with two of my super-nerd tricks when I perform a pre-purchase inspection for my clients, or if I’m on the other side of the transaction and we’re preparing for sale. Number one, make sure the detail is done as close to the time of the potential buyer’s inspection, thereby avoiding any dust build-up or quick drives to the store that may spoil your hard work. Number two, do not show the car in the same spot you just used for washing it. The ground is wet, soap buckets and vacuums surrounding the car, this is not a good look.
[00:04:00] As a buyer I wanna get the sense a car has always been super-clean. If you found this video helpful, please share and keep up with all the latest detail videos by liking or subscribing to the Auto Blog page. I’m Larry Casilla from AmmoNYC.com, thanks for watching.