Jessica Sautter is a Content Writer for with a Bachelor’s Degree from Eastern Michigan University in Elementary Education with a Major in Reading and a Minor in Mathematics.

Full Bio →

Written by

Chris Harrigan has an economic degree from Limestone College and an MBA from Clemson University. He previously managed auto insurance claims for Enterprise Rent-A-Car. Currently, he is using his business and insurance expertise to provide insurance data analysis and visualizations to enhance the user experience.

Full Bio →

Reviewed by Chris Harrigan
Former Auto Insurance Claims Manager

UPDATED: Sep 7, 2020

Advertiser Disclosure

It’s all about you. We want to help you make the right car insurance coverage choices.

Advertiser Disclosure: We strive to help you make confident car insurance decisions. Comparison shopping should be easy. We are not affiliated with any one car insurance company and cannot guarantee quotes from any single company.

Our car insurance industry partnerships don’t influence our content. Our opinions are our own. To compare quotes from many different car insurance companies please enter your ZIP code on this page to use the free quote tool. The more quotes you compare, the more chances to save.

Editorial Guidelines: We are a free online resource for anyone interested in learning more about auto insurance. Our goal is to be an objective, third-party resource for everything auto insurance related. We update our site regularly, and all content is reviewed by auto insurance experts.

40 million. That’s the number of used cars sold in the United States each year. But, when it comes time to sell or upgrade your own car, it’s never easy. It is nothing short of a hassle.

You’re never sure if you’re getting a good deal when you trade it in at a dealership, and haggling with a stranger that found your listing online seems a bit out of many peoples’ comfort zone.

Either way you do it, you want to have a good experience (even an okay experience is fine). Some cars have an inherently good resale value. Others just simply don’t make the list. You want to sell your used car for the best value, whether you just trade it in or sell it privately. Even if you already know about improving your car’s resale value, here’s a refresher with some helpful tips to make it less of an ordeal.

Maintenance Matters

Keep your car maintained regularly and go in for pre-scheduled factory mileage checkups. Additionally, keep all of the paperwork relating to your car’s service. Not only will a well-maintained car be worth more than the same make and model in a lesser condition, but this old-school paper trail is important.

Compare quotes from the top car insurance companies and save

 Secured with SHA-256 Encryption

Yellow vehicle getting fixed at repair shop

While some repair shops automatically report services by VIN to Autochex or CarFax, not every shop offers to digitize your records. Being able to prove that your car was well maintained can go a long way when building trust with a prospective buyer.

Custom Modifications

According to instamotor, making modifications to your car, in general, negatively affects its resale value. So, if you have made some sick mods to your ride, it might be a good idea to remove some of them before you try to sell your car.

It’s simple. What appeals to you as a racing enthusiast, might not appeal to the broadest target market possible. A Fast and the Furious-style ride may not appeal to a mom just looking for a car to take her kids to school.

If you have made modifications, some are best to remove before you even try to sell. On The Mechanic Doctor’s list are dark tinted windows, exhaust modifications, headlight or under-body light upgrades, fancy rims or any non-standard, and aftermarket wheel upgrades.

Replace Old Tires

Tires are important, especially when you are trying to sell your car. Many buyers look at tires as a track record of how you really took care of your car. If the treads are worn down or uneven, consider replacing with new or used (but matching) tires. If you don’t, the buyer will likely expect a discount of $300–$700, according to KBB.

Compare quotes from the top car insurance companies and save

 Secured with SHA-256 Encryption

Fix Your Windshield and Dents

The way that your car looks is of the utmost importance when you are trying to get the most value out of it as possible. Fixing minor damage, dents, or scratches (the right way) can be to your benefit.

If you have comprehensive coverage, windshield repair due to rock damage may even be free. Comprehensive coverage even covers hail-related damage, vandalism, and instances where you accidentally hit tweety or something.

Even if you don’t have comprehensive insurance coverage, a windshield repair is still in your best interest. According to Kelley Blue Book,

“The cost of repairing a windshield is usually less than the amount that buyers will mentally knock off the price if you leave the damage as is.”

Make Sure It Shines (Inside and Out)

A clean car is a more appealing car. Get it washed. Professionally. If you can afford it, a professional interior detailing service would also benefit your pocketbook when it comes time to sell your vehicle. You want it to look pristine (or as pristine as possible) before you present it to either the local buyer or the dealership’s appraisal team.

If you don’t want to pay someone else to clean your car. Make sure you cover all of the bases: outside, under the hood, tires, rims, under the seats, and going over the interior dash with a vacuum and a toothbrush until it’s like new.

It goes without saying that while you are working on your car’s appearance, make sure that any bumper stickers or parking stickers are removed, so it looks as good as possible.

Don’t forget to smell-check. If there is any perceivable smell inside the car, you need to nip it in the bud, whether that means an extra thorough shampoo for your interior, or finding some nice neutral-smelling scented spray. You don’t want it to have a specific smell, just not an immediate negative smell.

All done! Now it’s time for you to go check out your car, collect the essential paperwork, and make these simple changes to help get the most return possible on your investment.

Author Bio: Anne-Marie Hays is interested in consumer finance, for her own benefit and to help others. She loves reading, traveling, and watching The Office. She writes for