The best way to sell your car is to clean it and clean it well. By keeping the bodywork in tip-top condition, you show you care and push that value higher. Here are our top tips to get a high price and a quick sale for your motor.

What’s the best car wash product?

Start hosing the visible dirt with a pressure washer. Karcher’s K2 Full Control is a modest £99. We like Halfords pressure washer shampoo at £12, which is suitable for any pressure-washing, cars included. 

That’s the first soap down.

If you’re doing things totally manually, then you’ll wash, rinse, repeat. Despite your dad’s best advice, the best soap for the bucket isn’t washing-up liquid – it can fade the paintwork. All detergents are not created equally. Brands like British company Autoglym get the science right, so you protect your paintwork during the wash. Autoglym Bodywork Shampoo Conditioner 500ml is a multiple award-winning product. You only need a little bit, so the bottle goes a long way.

Use two buckets—soap and rinse—with a grit guard at the bottom of the bucket, to prevent scratches. This two-pack from Amazon is a bargain.

Can I use a bath towel to dry my car?

Once you’ve washed, rinsed and repeated, you’ll need to dry the car. Sure, you can leave it to air dry, but it leaves marks you have to work harder to get rid of.

A bath towel might scratch the paintwork, so a microfibre cloth is a better option. You can pick up the Kent Extra Large Microfibre Drying Towel for less than a fiver. It’s another award winner and can absorb eight times its weight in water. It’s large enough for bigger vehicles and doesn’t leave any lint behind either.

How much does it cost to get a scratch out of a car?

Scratches, they happen. Don’t beat yourself up. You might be worried that cleaning the car will highlight the imperfections, but small scratches can be taken care of easily.

For minor scratches on the clearcoat, that haven’t damaged the colour coat or gouged through the primer to the bare metal of the car, you can use Autoglym Scratch Removal Complete Kit, £14.40. With a gentle touch, this kit will help you strategically buff your paintwork so you don’t lose money on damaged paintwork in negotiations.

For scratches that are more significant, a professional might be required. For little dots of rust, use T-Cut’s Rust Magic pen.

How do you get small dents out of cars?

The Draper Single Suction pad is a whopping £3.06 and will help remove minor indentations from your bodywork. Granted, it isn’t as effective around wheel arches or boot spaces, where it’s difficult to create the vacuum that helps resolve the issue. It is, however, a cheap way of keeping the price high.

What is better wax or polish for cars?

Now you’ve made your surface as clean as you can, the next couple of stages are polishing and waxing.

In the detailing world, you’d do these after ‘claying’ the car. That means literally pulling specialist clay, such as Bilt Hamber’s Auto Clay, across the body of the car with a lubricant to pick up all the microscopic dirt, clinging to the paintwork. At £11.44, it’s not cheap, but it is one of the few clays out there that works with just water, rather than a separate product. The finish on the paintwork is much smoother to the touch and better for applying the wax. 

Picking a polish or wax is very much down to your budget. You can go separate, though many brands are creating formulas that have the characteristics of both. The best application is done with foam pads. We love these easy-use Meguiar’s Soft Foam pads for £5.99. They are lint-free and apply the wax evenly. Some products come with their own pads. 

Bilt Hamber’s award-winning Double Speed Wax will set you back a fair wedge but will make all the difference. Apply the product, wait for it to ‘haze’ and then buff it off with a soft cloth. These microfibre cloths from Halfords are fantastic value at a fiver.

To get extra, give extra effort to other places.

To read more of our top tips, read Part Two of Clean Up Your Car: top tips to get a high price and a quick sale for your motor

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