How to retain value to sell your car second hand

Posted by Henno Havenga on 5 Jun 2021

Suzuki Swift MC 2021-198
Eyes roll and often there is anger at the price being offered by a dealer when the time comes to sell the car that has been your pride and joy for the past few years. However, getting the best price involves both thought and preparation.

Estimated reading time: 2 minutes, 55 seconds.

Darryl Jacobsen from TruePrice summarises it quite succinctly when he says, “Keep your vehicle in a condition that you can give or sell to your kids with confidence.”

Obviously, the dealer you are selling the car to is in business to make money and will be looking at every aspect of your car, so the more the dealer has to spend on it before it can be put on the showroom floor, the less you will be offered.

Jacobsen offers the following advice:

1. Has the vehicle got a service history? The mechanical condition is of maximum importance as you can then sell with maximum confidence.

2. Tyres – every prospective buyer looks at and examines tyres as they are an expensive exercise should they need to be replaced. 

3. The interior of the vehicle needs to be kept in pristine condition (valet inside often) plus the engine and boot need to be very clean and free of odour.

4. Dealerships that open their bonnets and boots show confidence to the buyer, so likewise the seller needs to do the same.

5. Windscreens also add to the value and nothing is worse than looking at a vehicle with a chipped windscreen as it is one of the first things you notice.

6. The exterior of the vehicle needs a brilliant polish. 

“Scratches in my view are not such a major issue as they can be touched up and it shows some form of honesty that you have not taken a vehicle for a complete respray,” says Jacobsen. “However, excessive accident damage needs to be repaired sooner than later.”

It is also important to present the vehicle to the dealer in its original specification. If you have modified the car by adding a large-bore exhaust tailpiece and big boot spoiler, for example, the potential buyer is likely to view your car as being something of a ‘street racer’ having been worked harder than normal.

These modifications do not do well on a dealer floor and it is advisable to spend the money to return the car to standard – you will not get all of it back in the resale, but you are likely to gain more than you would lose on the value by not doing it.

Jacobsen referred to ‘open bonnet’ in his advice and the dealer is likely to check both the oil and the coolant in your vehicle, the condition of these two items providing valuable insight on how the car has been treated.

Offering it for sale with a fresh oil change and full coolant reservoir can significantly increase the value proposition as well as doing minor repairs to wearable items such as the mats, rubber panels on the pedals and replacing the batteries in the remote (and the spare).

Ensure you have the full service record for the car, particularly if you’ve incurred costs. Replacement parts, especially expensive items such as cam belts, prove you have taken good care of the vehicle and any of these are then things the dealer will not have to do – improving the value of your car.

You may not get what you think your car is actually worth but, by preparing properly, the offer will be a lot closer.

Looking for a second hand car? Download our second-hand car guide now.

Guide to buying a second hand car

Our team of experts at Suzuki have written about cars for years - download our ebook on 101 facts, tips and practical tidbits compiled from years of auto content, for both first time and longstanding car drivers.

Download 101 car facts

Topics: Using a car


Subscribe to our blog

Recent Posts

New call-to-action

New Call-to-action

New call-to-action

Popular Articles


Suzuki Baleno

The Suzuki Baleno was launched in South Africa in 2016 as a hatchback vehicle that was more spacious than the Swift. Since then it has undergone a few upgrades and grown in popularity. Find out why the Baleno is the Original Fit!


Suzuki S-Presso

The S-Presso is a budget car that South Africans love. This mini-SUV has cheeky styling and is jam-packed with features. It comes in colours that will make you stand out in any crowd as #DoYou and take on any adventure.


Suzuki Swift

The Suzuki Swift is a firm South African favourite, in fact, it’s Suzuki's best-selling model. It’s not hard to see why this fierce little car captured the hearts of thousands of drivers around the world - with its stylish looks and cheeky personality, what’s not to love?