Whoever said "You can't judge a book by its cover" must never have tried to sell a used car. People will take one look at the photos of your car in the paper or online and decide if they want to contact you. If they see the car in person and don't like the appearance, regardless of how well it runs, they may not even want to test drive it. A few cosmetic repairs on your car can make the difference between it being ignored and drawing attention of potential buyers. Here are some typical repairs you can do to spruce up your car and catch the eye of buyers.
Save Your Money By Doing It Yourself
Except for painting the car, all of these repairs you can do yourself. A few trips to the salvage yard for used car parts will also keep your costs down. Look for auto salvage yards that will retrieve the part for you. You can call ahead with the parts you need and have them waiting for you when you get to their shop.
Under the Hood
Battery cables and clamps - Clean any corrosion off of the battery posts and replace cracked or frayed battery cables and clamps.
Insulation - If the sheet of insulation material under the hood is torn, rotted or missing, put a new or used piece in.
Hood Lifts - Replace the hydraulic hood lifts if they no longer keep the hood open.
License plate frames - Replace bent or missing license plate holders on the front and back with nice ones from the salvage yard.
Lens covers - Any cracked lens covers should be replaced. This includes the headlight, taillight, brake light, parking light, backup light and turn signal covers. Depending on the age of the car, one lens cover may be used for several lights.
Windshield wiper arms - These can corrode and peel. Replace the arms with used parts but put new wiper blades in for good measure.
Rear view mirrors - If the mirror is broken in either rear view mirror assembly, you'll find it easier to replace the entire assembly than just fixing the mirror.
Door handles - Replace these if scratched or rusted.
Truck handle and lock - Replace a broken trunk lock. Have a locksmith re-key it before installing it yourself.
Hub caps and wheel covers - You may have to purchase these from someone that specializes in wheel covers. These are often removed from car before it is placed in the salvage yard.
Rear view mirror - Re-glue the mirror to the windshield if loose or replace if cracked.
Dials, levers and knobs - Replace any of these that are missing or scratched inside of the car.
Sun visors - Dirty, faded or warped visors should be replaced.
Floor mats - These may also need to be purchased new as they are often missing from the cars in a salvage yard.
The Final Touch
An inexpensive paint job will freshen up a dull finish. You can replace and polish all of these parts, but if the paint job is faded or scratched, it will detract from the overall appearance. Even a paint job from one of the discount car painting companies will make your car more attractive to buyers and help you get your asking price for the car.