Repair Car Before Selling?
November 5, 2007 11:15 PM   Subscribe

I am looking to sell my 2003 Toyota Echo. It's in great condition except the rear bumper. I am wondering if I should have the bumper repaired before selling it.

The lowest estimate I got for getting the bumper fixed was $480 (insurance won't cover it). I'm looking to sell the car for between $9000 and $9500, which is what I see cars of my type selling for online and in ads.

So, should I get this repair done? It basically comes down to whether or not I think I can get my money back in the sale. However, I've never sold a car before so I'm not sure how to make that judgement. Some people have told me to sell the car at a higher price and let the bumper be a negotiating point in letting them "talk me down" on my inflated price. However, that sounds sketchy.

Some extra detail: I will be selling the car myself, but I still have a loan on it. The loan amount is much less than what I know I'll get for the car, even without the repairs. So that is not a concern for me. Also, I live in San Francisco, if that makes a difference at all.
posted by mto to Travel & Transportation (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
What exactly is wrong with the bumper?
posted by artdrectr at 11:32 PM on November 5, 2007

Best answer: Some people have told me to sell the car at a higher price and let the bumper be a negotiating point in letting them "talk me down" on my inflated price. However, that sounds sketchy.

That's not sketchy in the least. If you choose not to have the bumper repaired, no matter what you ask potential buyers will all try to use the bumper as a bargaining point. You're just anticipating that move in asking a higher price and expecting to come down.

About your question though-- potential buyers are different. Some people will want the car as is, and some would be turned off by a damaged bumper. The good news is, you're in a big market (SF) and the Echo has a good reputation and resale value (we love ours).

I'd try selling it unfixed first, then fix it if you need to in order to sell it. But I'd be surprised if you had to.

One thing though-- if you do sell it unrepaired, I'd be prepared to show documentation of some kind as to what caused the bumper damage. If people think the bumper damage is part of a larger accident that will haunt them down the road hee hee, they might be less likely to buy.
posted by Rykey at 11:43 PM on November 5, 2007

Best answer: You may want to consider visiting a wrecker's yard (junk yard) if you have any mechanical nouse and/or a friend who has a socket set.
Assuming the bumper is scuffed or chipped, rather than wildly deformed it is likely you can easily swap the same colour from a wreck with an hour or two work. I would expect to pay under $100 for the part.
Last time I had the same trouble it took two visits to the largest local wrecker (where you have to remove the part yourself, saving a few dollars) before I found the same model as mine in the same colour. I could have called around a few different yards instead if I had been in a hurry.
Otherwise, I would say don't bother repairing.
I am quite happy to buy a second hand car with a few scuffs if I feel I am getting a good deal. Especially because in my house cars start looking ugly a few months after we get them (never have kids if you have a nice car).
The feeling of the first scratch on a pristine car is horrible, so I am happier to get one that has gone through that, as I know it won't last at our place.
And conversely, I wouldn't pay $500 more for an un-scratched bumper.
posted by bystander at 1:38 AM on November 6, 2007

I'd fix it.

I spent about $100 sprucing up my car before trying to sell it on Craigslist after following some tips in this thread and it sold in less than a week!
posted by mdonley at 2:08 AM on November 6, 2007

If the bumper's sufficiently bashed to make a buyer think the car has been rear-ended, then it's worth fixing. Scrapes and dents from less-than-perfect parking would make it less of an issue, but if I were looking, it would raise a lot more questions than scratches to the bodywork or messy side trim.

Do consider the scrapyard option for a replacement. And if it has been rear-ended, then you really ought to disclose that, no matter what.
posted by holgate at 3:32 AM on November 6, 2007

First, wow to $9k for a used echo, and second, I wouldn't fix it. If it's crushed, call a junkyard and price one, and you can let your buyer know the cost. Be prepared to take $8500 though. If you can't get that, you can always fix it in a couple weeks and try again.
posted by TomMelee at 6:11 AM on November 6, 2007

I'd fix it. I'm guessing that a lot of people won't bother responding to an ad for a car with a smashed-up bumper.
posted by PFL at 6:56 AM on November 6, 2007

Response by poster: Extra Info: The bumper not horribly deformed. It is pretty obviously the damage is from having shitty parallel parking skills. Little dents and nicks, and areas where the paint is peeling off around the little dents and nicks.
posted by mto at 9:10 AM on November 6, 2007

Response by poster: Rykey, thanks! I don't know why it didn't occur to me to sell it unfixed first and then get it fixed if it is an issue. I just keep obsessing over the bumper b/c it's the only obvious deficit on the car.

Bystander, I think I have the skills to fix this myself. Going to a junkyard and possibly saving a few hundred never occurred to me. My dad used to do that all the time, so I'm a little ashamed it didn't occur to me.

TomMelee, is $9k a lot or a little? I've seen several used ones sell for that amount around SF. Seems like a good price point to start at.
posted by mto at 9:17 AM on November 6, 2007

Hehe, you're in SF so it's basically a separate universe from me, but around here a 4 almost 5 year old echo would land you maybe on a good day $5-7k, if it had extremely low mileage. That's private market anyway, a dealership might get 8. Good for you though!
posted by TomMelee at 1:01 PM on November 6, 2007

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