A silver beat up car is shown from the front parked on a city street after the owner searched 'sell my car'.

Cash in on Your Clunker

If your current vehicle has been leaving you stranded and making you feel unsatisfied with your driving experience, there is really not a better time than now to sell your car. Between the increasing demand for used vehicles from both dealers and individuals and the ever-present need to save money when and where we can, the value of used cars is on the rise. However, the increased need for used cars does not automatically mean that you’ll automatically get the most for your vehicle. Let’s look at a couple of things that can help us cash in on our clunkers.

A red car is shown from the side being pulled along by the owner after breaking down.


It may seem like something small at first, but that little piece of paper can, in some ways, make or break a sale. The title for your vehicle is your proof of ownership, so it is important that you do not lose it and that you have it with you when trying to sell your vehicle in any way. If, for some reason, you are missing your title, you should be able to get a new one through your local RMV or DMV.


No one wants to buy a car that makes them feel like they may need a sanitizer bath afterward, so give the car a bath. A good exterior wash through a car wash or a hands-on do-it-yourself job can help sell your car. If you feel like going the extra mile, a nice bit of shine and wax adds that extra luster that will help buyers want to buy your car.

Don’t stop at the outside, though; give your car a good interior cleanse, too. If there are some stains on the seats, try to lighten or remove them. Do a good wipe down of the hard surfaces, a nice shine on the windows and mirrors, and a quick vacuum of the carpets and seats. These tasks may seem like nothing, but one of the fastest ways to make sure someone will pay what you are asking is to make them feel utterly comfortable in your vehicle. Add a couple of your favorite air fresheners to replace your used car smell with a new car scent, and you’ll be having offers in no time. I know it can seem like such a small and inconvenient thing, but clean cars sell better than dirty ones.

Interior Appearance

This is a feature that can cost a little bit of money depending on what you do, but it can make a huge difference. I remember when I was looking to replace my old daily driver, I looked at a car that I absolutely loved almost everything about. The only problem was that the leather seats had a tear in it. Not just a little tear, but a tear that someone had tried to hide by using matching colored tape over it. This turned me away from the car entirely because if the seller was willing to fix the seat with tape, what other parts of the car were being held up by just tape?

Basically, the point of this whole story was that if your car looks like you’ve taken care of it, then people will assume it has been and be more willing to buy it. Well cared for cars have a reputation for lasting longer, and that means they will sell better. There are a few things that can be done to make a car’s interior look a bit more refined and classy. One of the least expensive options is to shampoo the interior. From floor to ceiling, a light shampooing can really clean up the inside of your car. It’ll allow you to remove some surface-level staining on the seats and carpet.

Shampooing could even be done on the car’s headliner to really spruce the vehicle up. Replacing any worn-off dials with either new dials or new stickers will help your car’s interior seem a little newer and better taken care of. There are so many little things that you might not even realize affect a buyer’s decision-making, but paying attention to those little details can really help you make the most for your car. New dials or stickers on the buttons make the interior of your car seem a bit more pristine, which will make a buyer more comfortable with your asking price.

New floor mats that aren’t permanently stained from shoes are another relatively cheap and incredibly easy fix. Another interior upgrade you may want to consider is a steering wheel cover. Upgrading this can hide any tears in your steering wheel and allows for a sleeker look. On the more expensive end, seat covers are excellent ways to add “curb appeal” to your vehicle. These can hide any stains and tears in your seats while still classing up your vehicle. While most of this stuff isn’t strictly necessary, it can go a long way to improving your sale price.

“Extra” Accessories

These are things that may seem silly to you, but when it comes down to negotiating a price on a vehicle can make all the difference. Extra accessories include any spare rim covers or tire caps you might have. They can encompass the extra key fobs or maybe a docking station for your phone or an auxiliary cord. It could be the inclusion of your jumper cables in the sale. Maybe you find you have an extra set of tires that fit. All these smaller and more “fine print” details add value to your car sales by giving you a little bit to negotiate with.

Mechanical Inspection

Depending on where you take your car, this can be more or less costly than the other options. Basically, this is just reassurance to the buyer that your car is not going to quit working on them when they are only two minutes down the road. This can help you get more for your car because it helps alleviate a worry many used car buyers will feel that they’ll buy a bad car.

Unless you are interested in flipping a vehicle or house, most people do not want to buy a car that will cost them an arm and a leg to fix. Many people want to invest in a vehicle that they can use right off the get-go. Take your car to a trusted mechanic and have them do a quick inspection report for you. This reassurance that you’re not just selling your car because you don’t want to pay to fix it will go a long way in price negotiations. It can also pay to have all of your maintenance records handy, so you can show the potential buyer you have taken the time to keep your vehicle properly serviced.

Regular Maintenance

Going along with the idea of utilizing a mechanic to help you get more for your car, it can make a difference for your car’s purchase price if you have recently had it serviced with stuff like an oil change and tire rotation. This will indicate that you take good care of your car, and it will also alleviate the stress of the buyer, who will probably be happy to check those things off the list of things to do after buying the car for the time being.

A dark grey car in poor condition is shown parked on a city street.

Take These Tips and Sell Your Car

It may seem counterintuitive to invest any money into a vehicle you are trying to sell. However, as in most cases, if you spend a little, you can return that plus more when you sell. Not all of these things might apply to your vehicle, or you might not want to invest that much in a vehicle you are getting rid of, but we would definitely recommend at least giving your vehicle a thorough cleaning before putting it on the market. These are just some small steps you can take to really get the most out of your car when you sell. These small improvements to your car can make the difference in whether or not the buyer sees your car as just another clunker or the car that takes them home. Take these extra steps, and you may just get some extra cash.