7 tips on how to prepare a car when you're selling it

Make it more appealing than it is
by Botchi Santos | Jul 19, 2016

They say nothing lasts forever, and so does our time with our cars. Financial constraints, family obligations and the passage of time mean we will outlive our automobiles, painful as it sounds. Thus, we all aim to sell our beloved possessions for the best price, reflecting the passion we've put into them. We also want our cars to find new owners who will pour in the same amount of care and respect for them as we have. So here are some easy but important steps we need to undertake to make sure our prized possessions are ready for their new owners when it's time for us to sell them.

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1. Get the LTO registration sorted out and up to date.

* We often neglect to ensure that our vehicle's LTO registration is updated. Check the car's LTO registration. Browse through it and see if it is up to date. If your LTO papers are missing, technology has made it easier for you to remedy this. You can find out a vehicle's details by texting its plate number to this LTO service. Each text costs only P2.50. You will receive a text message stating if your car's registration is updated, and if there are any apprehensions or alarms against your vehicle. If the registration isn't updated, rush over to the nearest LTO office and update it.

* If your car is mortgaged or on financing, make sure that you have finished paying the mortgage. Write a letter of cancelation of the loan and chattel mortgage to the financing bank or company along with the following: (1) a copy of your valid IDs; (2) a copy of the chattel mortgage; and (3) your vehicle's most recent LTO registration papers. Banks take two to three days to sort this out. Once you have the cancellation of the chattel mortgage, you need to head over to the Registry of Deeds to have the lien or encumbrance canceled on your car's LTO registration. From experience, this takes anywhere from a day to five days depending on how busy the Register of Deeds is. Once the lien or encumbrance is canceled, you then head over to the LTO to have the cancelation of lien or encumbrance also canceled, removed or expunged from LTO's records. LTO will then issue you a new Certificate of Registration with the lien or encumbrance no longer listed. Again, from experience, this takes two to five days. I hope our new government can shorten this process into a few short hours.

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2. Inspect your vehicle and make sure it is roadworthy at the very least, ideally with the assistance of a car shop.

* Since we are selling our cars to a potential stranger, the bare minimum we need to do is make them safe and roadworthy. The tires should still be within their safe operating range, the brake pads are thick, the vehicle's fluids (engine oil, gear oil/ATF, differential fluid, clutch fluid and power-steering fluid) are topped up and still within their service life. Clutch, brake and power-steering fluids are usually clear with a very slight gold tinge; if these fluids are darker, have them changed immediately.

* For older vehicles, you might want to perform periodic maintenance already just so your vehicle is in tip-top shape when you sell it. Tune-up, oil change and new air/oil/fuel filters are a great idea. Remember, the last thing you want is your old car's buyer coming back to you and complaining you sold a lemon because of many minor problems. Be proactive and sort them out yourself.

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* You should put the car up on the lifter and check for signs of rust on the chassis, as well as missing bolts and fasteners. Tighten up all the suspension and body bolts to make your car feel as tight and as fresh as possible. It really helps improve your car's feel and performance.

* One detail we often forget about roadworthiness is the ability to see or hear and be seen and heard. Are the car's lights, wipers and horn in good working order? Are they operating properly? Are all the bulbs lighting up? Change the bulbs and wipers if they aren't as effective. If your car's headlight lenses are faded and yellowed, a detailing shop can clean them up to bring back the car's original lighting performance. Remember, these are small minor parts with major impact on road safety, and we all have a moral responsibility to keep our cars safe to use.

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3. Collect all the receipts of all the parts changed and work performed. If none, make a list of at least all the major work done to your car.

* You often see the acronym FSH in classified ads. It stands for Full Service History. If you buy a brand-new car, the warranty booklet in the glovebox or dash console lists down all the works performed on your vehicle. Keep the booklet because this is insurance for both you and the buyer; it is proof you had regular preventive maintenance performed on your vehicle.

* If you don't have the warranty booklet, try to reconstruct everything that has been done to your vehicle. This helps give the buyer a general idea of what to expect from your car.

* It's also a great idea to keep (where applicable) all the old parts of your car, which is proof or evidence that the work you listed has actually been performed on your car.

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4. If your car is modified, be ready to return it to stock.

* Many modifications done to our cars actually add little value come resale time. Thus, it is a good idea to have all the stock or OEM parts on hand. For you (the seller), you might actually make more money this way rather than selling the car as a modified unit. A completely stock car also broadens its appeal to a wider audience of buyers. For example, my old Toyota Yaris, which I had kept for seven years, was sadly worth very little by the time I decided to sell it. It was roughly P280,000. I decided to sell all the major aftermarket parts to get it back to stock. The result? Aside from getting P280,000 from the car, I also made an extra P150,000 selling all my major aftermarket components. There's no way I could have recouped that had I sold my car as a modified one.

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* If you can't be bothered to return your car to stock, make a list as extensive as possible of all the modifications you installed on your vehicle. This will help give the buyer an idea of the work that has been put into your car, and what he or she might want to replace.

5. Make your car look presentable.

* We always try to put our best foot forward, and so it is with our cars. Aside from making sure our cars are roadworthy and safe, we have to make sure they look clean and presentable. From a simple wash and wax with a vacuumed interior, to a full-detailing effort, you need to show your car's true beauty inside and out. If it smells funny, find out why. If you used to smoke inside the car, have the interior washed thoroughly to clean up the cigarette stench and dirt especially on the vehicle headliner.

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* If your car's tint is old, faded or bubbly, remove it so your car would look clean. Your windshield will also look a bit worse for wear. A detailing shop can remove all the watermarks left by chemical rain, and most light scratches. Peering out of a clean, clear windshield is very reassuring on the part of the prospective buyer.

* If your car looks like a pigsty, rest assured that it will attract almost no buyer at all.

6. Advertise.

* Social media has made e-commerce even far more convenient. While people might not exactly buy your car based on your ad without seeing it, it helps spread the word that your car is for sale. On Facebook alone, there are tons of groups and pages dedicated to selling, some of them car-specific. There are also groups or pages dedicated to a specific marque.

* Take good, clean pictures of your car on a flattering angle (low, three-quarters and front view), and some detailed shots of the engine, the dashboard, the seats, the wheels and the lights. This helps the potential buyer see your car as a whole with some details. Post also basic contact details, your asking price, and a preferred schedule for viewing. You want to go about selling your car in an orderly fashion, of course.

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7. Be honest.

* I truly believe that karma is a bitch, so always be honest about your car's history. If it got flooded, tell the potential buyer. If it was involved in a serious accident, don't withhold that information as well.

* What happened in the past can't be changed. Better be upfront about it rather than let the new owner find out in the future that your car figured in something unsavory, and he or she will get back to you and make your life hell because you withheld that information.

There you have it, some simple tips on how to prepare your car when you're about to sell it. On a side note, if someone requests for a test drive, ask for a valid ID of the person in advance to verify identity. Meet at a safe, very public location in the middle of the day. There have been a number of car thefts in the past involving criminals posing as car buyers to steal a vehicle under the disguise of a test drive.

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