What Should I Repair Before Selling My Used Car

There comes a point in every car’s life when you decide that it’s just not for you anymore. Show me a person who still drives what they did in the 1990s and I’ll show you someone who can’t, in the words of a recent Disney princess, “let it go.†For the rest of us, though, there comes a point when it’s time to move on.


But what about the old car, that’s either given reliable service or been a source of irritation, or perhaps something in between? “In with the new†has its appeal, but generally speaking “out with the old†comes along with it. Which repairs are essential to have made before this occurs?


For starters, anything that causes an engine light to come on needs to be remedied. Perhaps you can ignore it, but it’s a screaming red flag to any potential buyer. If your mechanic gives you a quote on making that light go off, either pay the money or tell a potential buyer what that amount is. But don’t expect anyone will want to buy the car otherwise.


Then, make sure that the heat and the air conditioning work properly. Some buyers may not think to check this in advance, but a savvy car buyer will pick up on this if it isn’t working. And if a door won’t open or a window doesn’t work, that needs to be fixed, too.


Any leakage of fluids is almost impossible to hide from a prospective buyer. Get it taken care of because all car buyers will want to poke their head underneath the car to see what’s going on.


If the car either won’t start or doesn’t shut off right away, that’s another red flag to a potential buyer. If a car buyer shows up and doesn’t want to start the engine before handing you some money, that’s just great. But lemon drops will probably fall from the sky before that happens.


Exactly how thorough a prospective buyer will be with a used car is something nobody can tell for certain. But some basic things, like starting the car or checking underneath, can be expected from any buyer, and it makes sense to avoid giving that person some reason to walk away.