Should I detail my car before I sell it?
February 11, 2005 8:59 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking to sell my car in the next few weeks (never done so in my life). It runs perfectly, has low milage (35,000 mi. at 4 years old) and has a well-kept interior. However, the exterior has some minor to moderate cosmetic damage. Is it worth the cash to take it to a body shop and make it pretty? [MI]

I have acquired a bit of paint damage on both bumpers, light (but not buffable) key scratches on one door and a
sizable shallow dent behind the driver-side rear door. According to Kelly Blue Book, if my car were in "Good" condition, then I could look at selling it for around X. However, with the cosmetic damage, I'm afraid it probably rates as only "fair" and I would be looking at selling it for around "X-y". Is it worth it to pay for repairs (I have no idea how much these kind of things cost), or would I be
spending more than the difference? I would most likely be selling it through Craigslist, if that matters. I realize that I could take it to a shop for an estimate, but I'd rather not waste my time if its
more than likely not worth it. Thanks in advance! (Sorry for the weird formatting of question on front page.)
posted by Boydrop to Travel & Transportation (6 answers total)
I think it's always worth making a car as pretty as possible when you're selling. Spending $100 on a proper clean and interior valet might be a good idea as well.

Remember a lot of potential buyers won't have done their homework and looked at the book prices.
posted by derbs at 9:04 AM on February 11, 2005

Is your vehicle a GM vehicle? I know this question is not directly related to my advice, but a GM warranty runs 3 years, 36,000 miles. You have the ability to get an exended warranty all the way up to 59,000 miles. Just getting a quote at a local dealership (that's the only way to do this) can up the resale price. By the way, don't even consider the extended warranty if it's not a GMPP: General Motors Protection Plan. Good luck. By the way, if it is a GM vehicle, whats the VIN?
posted by Dean Keaton at 9:04 AM on February 11, 2005

Response by poster: Wow, quick answers. No, its not a GM, its a Ford.

Thanks for the interior advice, I am already planning on that as I remember from a previous ask me thread that interiors are "very important".

I guess my question is really, is the rough cost of getting a bit of paint around the bumpers, getting out light key scratches and fixing a medium sized (but shallow dent) under, say, $200? Like an idiot, in my question, I left out the prices. Its $7780 for "Good" rating and $7,025 for a "fair" rating. A $700 difference or so.
posted by Boydrop at 9:14 AM on February 11, 2005

Best answer: Whatever you can fix cheaply, do so. If it's more than $50 or $100, it's not worth it. In general, a car's value does not increase in proporition to the money you put into it, so it's not a good investment. Most people expect minor imperfections from a used car, and will overlook such flaws. By the way, body and paint work is incredibly expensive to get done properly.
posted by knave at 9:38 AM on February 11, 2005

What if, in the same situation (similar miles, similar damage), you were going to use it as a trade-in? Would you still go to the trouble?
posted by bozichsl at 10:00 AM on February 11, 2005

Response by poster: Probably not, as dealers usually buy your car for much less than you can sell it an individual.
posted by Boydrop at 10:21 AM on February 11, 2005

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