cleaning your car - get more for your motor

jonathan crouch on the importance of a little extra wash 'n brush-up for your car

When it comes to selling your car, a couple of hours spent on valeting and cosmetic repairs can make all the difference - in fact £500 worth of difference, according to motor trade journal Glass's Guide.

Certainly, a car that's well presented inside and out will particularly impress both dealers and private buyers - which should mean they'll pay more for it. In return for a bit of elbow grease and a small outlay on valeting products plus essential parts, sellers could easily realise that extra £500 on the value of any second-hand car.

So how should you go about cosseting your car - and what should you buy to prepare it for sale? Hopefully, these guidelines might help.

Body and Paint Work

* Shoddy bodywork is a big turn-off. Scratches on paintwork and patches of rust not only make a car look scruffy and neglected, they automatically lower the price that a buyer is prepared to pay.

* Make sure that rusty areas are treated with Rust Treatment

* If the rust is too far gone, use a little body filler to fill up holes in the body work

* Use a colour brush to cover up stone chips and minor paint work problems that need an exact colour match, or use the new Stone Chip and Scratch Repair System -

* Big motor stores like Halfords have wide ranges of car paints and normally offer a Special Order Paint Service for more obscure shades, with an exact match for any colour

* Make sure that the less obvious areas are also pristine. Take care to treat marks on wheels, inside the engine and on bumpers with specialist paints

* Replace any individual wheel trims that are missing and ensure you have a matching set

Cleaning

* First impressions count when selling a car and nothing impresses more than a spotless showroom shine. You can achieve this using any number of different products ranging from upholstery cleaner to tyre cleaner.

* Begin by cutting through dust and grime with a strong solution like an advanced car wash product.

* Use a Colour Restorer to restore paintwork to a gleaming full-bodied shine. Combine this with a Showroom Polish to give the car a quick-shine that returns the paintwork to showroom standard

* Dazzle the potential buyer with the quality of your alloys by using one of the many cleaning products available

* Return faded bumpers to their original colour with Exterior Trim Treatment

Interior Valeting

* Bad smells won't sell your car. To make the most of your motor, it is vital to make sure that the interior is as spotless as the chrome on the outside.

* Be sure to spruce up the seats with an upholstery cleaner

* Stick down any loose pieces of carpet with tape and freshen them up with a heavy duty carpet cleaner

* Get dusty dashboards back to their former glory with interior trim treatment available in gloss or matt

* Get rid of unpleasant smells with odour neutralisers, available in a wide range of fragrances

MOT

* If your car is unroadworthy, it's not worth buying, so a current MOT is essential. But before putting a car through an MOT, it is important to carry out a series of simple checks to help it to pass.

* Check and replace any faulty bulbs, the most common cause of MOT failure.

* Make sure that wing mirrors are not cracked and that the interior mirror is firmly attached.

* Replace worn wiper blades

* Ensure that number plates are legible and not cracked

DOS & DONTS FOR CAR CLEANING

Do heed caution with interior cleaning hacks

There are loads of interior cleaning hacks you can find on websites like TikTok, such as using a squeegee to remove pet hair and putting silicone cupcake moulds in your cup holder. Whilst some are relatively harmless, there are also ones that can cause more harm than good. For example, plenty of TikTokers recommend using olive oil to make your dashboard shiny. Whilst this may seem like a good idea in theory, if you don't wipe off all the oil, it will be slippery and could potentially be dangerous.

You should always be cautious when trying out something different to clean your interiors, and if using a new product like carpet cleaner, vinegar or baking soda, always test on a small, out-of-sight area first.

Do use a towel to stop windscreen freezing over

This particular trick for a frosty morning went viral, with over 145,000 likes on TikTok. The tried-and-tested method involves simply placing a large towel over your windscreen in the evening during winter. In the morning, the towel itself will be frozen, leaving your windscreen frost free and ready to go.

Don't use a bag of hot water to defrost the screen

Another winter-orientated hack that went viral onTikTok is to use a bag of hot water to defrost your windscreen. Whilst the user caveats that the temperature shouldn't be too hot, it would be easy to underestimate the heat - and end up with a cracked windscreen. Which you really don't want.

Don't use a plunger to pull out dents

Believe it or not, the use of a plunger to pull out dents after an accident did become popular on the app. Whilst it may work for small bumps, it's generally recommended to avoid this one, as you could end up pulling the metal out too far and making it worse. Best to leave dent repair to the professionals.

Don't use toothpaste for scuffs

Whilst toothpaste can be used for a variety of cleaning hacks, the one to avoid is using it to buff out scuffs and scratches. This method has been tried by professionals, however you would need a certain type of toothpaste for it to work. You might be best to avoid this hack, because you could end up rubbing off your clearcoat, leaving your paint exposed to the natural elements.

Don't create a DIY foaming jet wash

This car hack went viral in the summer, involving a hose pipe and washing up liquid to create a DIY foaming car wash. Whilst it may look great in theory, the sheer power of your hose pipe could end up causing small fragments of muck to damage your paintwork. Definitely one to leave to the professionals.

Summary

A few pounds spent on car valeting products and a little bit of effort can make all the difference between a quick sale and a non-sale - and if that effort also increases the price of the car, you would be mad not to get your hands dirty!