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Bottom Line Up Front

  • By making small improvements to your used car, like cleaning it and conducting minor repairs, you could make a big difference in its resale value.
  • Prepare your maintenance records and conduct a vehicle inspection to put potential buyers at ease.
  • After setting your price, be patient! You want to find the right buyer who is willing to pay the price you’re asking for.

Time to Read

6 minutes

January 9, 2024

Thinking about selling your car on your own? Although selling a car yourself can be challenging, it’s a great way to possibly get more money from your used vehicle than a dealer’s trade-in offer might provide. Navy Federal’s Car Buying Service, powered by TrueCar1 makes it easy to sell your car. Answer a few questions about your car and you could get a True Cash Offer™ in minutes, 2 connecting you to dealers who can pay you directly for your vehicle. Whether you’re looking to upgrade to a newer model or simply want to add cash to your savings account, your top priority should be getting the highest possible value for your car. Luckily, there are steps you can take to increase the value of your car before putting it up for sale.

Prep Your Car Ahead of Time

Cars depreciate in value the moment you drive off the lot, and they continue depreciating the longer you drive them. This means you’re unlikely to get the same amount you paid for the car back when you sell it. However, there are ways to maximize the amount you can sell it for—namely, making sure your car is in good shape before it goes to market.

Clean and detail your car

First impressions always matter, even when it comes to selling your car. A clean and well-maintained vehicle is more likely to attract potential buyers and command a higher sales price. You don’t have to pay for professional detailing to get your car looking like new again, though. Simply spend some time cleaning both the inside and outside of your car to freshen it up.

In addition to giving your car a thorough wash and wax, make sure to clean your tires. After you use a bristle brush and tire cleaner to get the wheels sparkling clean, apply a tire dressing to enhance their appearance. Also, be sure to give your glass a once-over with glass cleaner, then you may want to apply a trim restorer to fix any faded or discolored exterior trim.

Enhancing your car’s interior can also make it more appealing. Consider deep cleaning or even reupholstering the seats, deep cleaning the carpet or installing new floor mats. These minor upgrades go a long way in making your car look and feel nice.

Make minor repairs

Small repairs can make a big difference in your car’s perceived value. Before putting your car on the market, take time to address any minor repairs, such as fixing a broken taillight, replacing a worn-out windshield wiper or applying touch-up paint to the exterior. A well-maintained and repaired car shows potential buyers that you have taken good care of it and that it’s in good, safe and drivable condition.

Provide service and maintenance records

Organized service and maintenance records demonstrate to prospective buyers that your car has been properly taken care of over time. This provides them reassurance and can help you justify a higher price. Make sure that you have all of your car’s maintenance and service records on hand to show interested parties. It might also be helpful to have a CARFAX® Vehicle History ReportTM available to provide additional information on your car’s history.

Complete a mechanical inspection

A professional mechanic can identify any underlying mechanical issues with your car during a thorough inspection. Addressing these issues before selling can prevent potential buyers from negotiating a lower price due to necessary repairs. It also lets buyers know that the car has been well-maintained during your ownership and that there won’t be any surprises.

When It’s Time to Sell

Once your car has been cleaned, inspected and repaired, it’s time to put it up for sale. Paying attention to the market and catering to buyer needs can help you sell your car faster, for a higher price.

Research and set the right price

Before selling your car, conduct research to determine the vehicle’s market value. Consider factors like the make, model, year, mileage and overall condition of the car to find a fair price. This includes any modifications done to personalize the vehicle to your own taste. All of these can have an effect on how desirable the vehicle is to buyers, as well as what it will sell for eventually. You can also easily learn your car’s value and you could get an instant cash offer from a TrueCar-Certified Dealer through the Navy Federal Car Buying Service, operated by TrueCar.

Pricing your car competitively can attract more potential buyers and lead to a quicker sale. It also pays to be transparent and provide justification for the pricing, such as recent repairs or upgrades.

Also, keep in mind that while higher mileage on a used car could indicate increased wear and tear, it can still be in good condition if it has been well taken care of with regular and preventative maintenance.

Enhance curb appeal

You should market your car in the best light possible, and that means being deliberate with your photos. Before taking photos or showing the car to potential buyers, park it in an attractive setting with good lighting. Make sure the car looks clean and avoid highlighting any dents or scratches. Advertise the car on various channels, such as social media, car sale websites or sales forums.

Be patient

When it comes to selling your car, patience is key. Don’t rush the process! You want to take your time to find the right buyer who is willing to pay the price you’re asking for. Be open to negotiation, but don’t settle for a price that’s too low.

Get the Best Possible Price for Your Ride

Adding value to your car doesn’t have to be an expensive process. With a few simple tricks like cleaning, minor repairs and thorough research, you can maximize your car’s potential profitability. Be mindful there are a lot of factors involved in the car resale process, and you may have to adjust your approach along the way.

While your car is up for sale, make sure you’re considering your next auto purchase! Apply your car’s value to your new purchase budget, then turn to Navy Federal’s auto resources to explore loan options and much more.


Next Steps Next Steps

  1. If you’re on the fence about whether to keep your car, or sell it and buy a new one, start with some research. Look into the current value of your car and potential new options, and use Navy Federal’s calculator to help determine which choice might save you money.
  2. Once you’ve made the choice to sell, start by getting your vehicle inspected by a mechanic and address any issues that might lower your car’s value. Then, spruce your car up with a thorough detailing job and potential cost-effective upgrades.
  3. Turn to Navy Federal’s Car Buying Service, powered by TrueCar when you’re ready to look into your next car and then apply for a Navy Federal preapproved auto loan.



TrueCar operates the Navy Federal Car Buying Service. Navy Federal is not responsible for any offer, purchase, lease, or service provided by or through the Navy Federal Car Buying Service.


True Cash Offers are conditional. Terms and conditions apply

This content is intended to provide general information and shouldn't be considered legal, tax or financial advice. It's always a good idea to consult a tax or financial advisor for specific information on how certain laws apply to your situation and about your individual financial situation.