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When homeowners decide to sell a house, they give it some “curb appeal” to entice buyers. A few cosmetic touch-ups and aesthetic upgrades can bring a better price and faster sale. You can apply the same theory to selling your car. Even if it runs great, its appearance matters to car shoppers. A few upgrades will make your old vehicle more appealing and more valuable to buyers.

Check Your Paint Job

A few chips, a scratch from that time you backed into a bush—these things happen to a well-loved car. If there are no major damages to the paint job, a few cosmetic repairs can have her looking (almost) as good as new. Any paint scratch repair and removal system from your local auto supply store can cover up minor chips and scrapes, and a rubbing compound kit can make a dull, lifeless paint job look showroom perfect. After you touch up the paint, take your car for a wash and wax. It will look shiny and clean in your ad photos.

Clean the Headlights

You might have just gotten used to it, but if the headlights have a yellow, dulled look, your car may look tired and worn. A few minutes and some elbow grease can greatly improve the brightness of your headlights. A kit such as the 3M Headlight Restoration Kit can make the front of your car look newer and better, and clean headlights are safer for nighttime drivers.

Photo by Axel Schwenke via Flickr

Buff up Those Tires

Nothing beats the look of new tires. You can buy a tire cleaning kit from any local superstore, or if yours are really worn, consider replacing them. Doing so may get you a better deal on your car, because most people will pass on a car they think could get a flat or a blowout a couple miles down the road. All-season General tires start at $54 each on Tirebuyer.com.

Clean It Thoroughly

Whether you take it to a professional car detailer or do it yourself, make sure it’s clean. It shows the buyer you’ve take good care of it. Thoroughly vacuum the floor and seats, especially if you had pets in your car. Dust out the nooks and crannies like the glove compartment and around the gearshift and dashboard gauges. Clean both the outside and inside of windows. You might even want to have the underbody and engine compartment steam cleaned, just to be thorough.

Photo by osseous via Flickr

Even if you’re trading it in at a car dealership, these tips can add several hundred dollars to your trade-in allowance. A minimal investment of your money and time will have a huge impact in what you’ll receive when your car does sell. Who knows, after a face lift, you might want to keep it yourself.

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