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Selling Your Car: Items to Fix Before You Sell

If you’re thinking of selling your car, it might be tempting to simply take a few photos and list it on But we have a few suggestions on some items you might want to address before selling your car, as they’re certain to be spotted by nearly every potential buyer.


Tires are the number-one item you should fix before trying to sell your car. The reason: Old or worn tires are among the easiest things for a potential buyer to spot. Most used-car shoppers know how to check tires for wear — and nearly all will notice if they’re not in good shape. If you don’t replace your tires before selling your car, be prepared to knock some money off the price.


Worn brakes are expected on any used car. But heavily worn brakes — the kind that make a grinding noise as you come to a stop — need to be replaced. Even if the car’s brakes are its only problem, most buyers will run away the second they hear grinding. Our advice: Be sure to fix the brakes before trying to sell your car.

Oil Change

Unless an oil change has been performed recently, we strongly recommend getting a fresh one before selling a car. The reason: Oil changes are a rather inexpensive way to show a potential buyer that you’ve serviced the car before selling. They show that the car’s maintenance is important to you, which will make a buyer feel more relaxed about the purchase.


Nearly all buyers will check a car’s power windows before signing any paperwork. Therefore, we definitely recommend fixing a car’s windows before you sell. If not, a potential buyer is likely to walk away once a window rolls down but doesn’t come back up.


Lights are cheap and easy to fix, so we think you should do so before you sell your car. Most buyers will test out a car’s headlights, brake lights and turn signals — and many will take broken lights as a sign that a seller hasn’t properly maintained his car. Fortunately for sellers, lights are cheap to buy and easy to replace, so you should be sure to do so before listing your car.

Of course, our list doesn’t include every item on a car — and that’s because most used-car shoppers shouldn’t assume that all features will be working perfectly. But if you’re trying to sell your car, you should definitely follow our suggestions and fix a few of these important items before you place your ad.


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Doug Demuro
Doug DeMuro writes articles and makes videos, mainly about cars. Doug was born in Denver, Colorado, and received an economics degree from Emory University in Atlanta. After graduation, Doug spent three years working for Porsche Cars North America. Eventually, he quit his job to become a writer, largely because it meant that he no longer had to wear pants. Doug’s work has been featured in a multitude of magazine publications and websites, including here at Autotrader — where he launched the Oversteer enthusiast blog — along with Jalopnik, GQ, and The Week. His YouTube channel has hundreds of published videos and has racked up hundreds of millions of views. Today, Doug lives in San Diego, California, with his 1997 Land Rover Defender 90 NAS, 2005 Ford GT, and 2012 Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG Wagon.

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