Under the bonnet
But while the bonnet is raised, check and top up the engine oil, coolant and screenwash. If you don’t know how, look in the vehicle’s handbook for guidance.
Next, polish the paint - lightly. But don’t go overboard with tyre blackener, bumper clean and other lotions and potions. There is such a thing as an ‘over-prepared’ used car. If yours looks ‘too’ shiny, that can arouse suspicions when you mean to impress.
Turning to the inside, remove all your belongings and vacuum thoroughly, including the boot. If the seats and carpet look mucky, borrow or hire a carpet-shampooing machine. If the interior smells musty, this will also freshen it. Leave windows open to aid drying.
Don’t use fabric freshener to mask smells or in-car fragrance gadgets: they’re a real love-hate thing.
Scrub the ash tray (if fitted) and wipe the dash and headlining. Clean the windows and mirrors and a tip here is to use balled-up newspaper to buff them to a shine.
In the boot, remove all clutter, vacuum the carpet, then check that the spare wheel and tyre are inflated. See that the jack is in place and that the wheel brace (for removing the nuts that hold it on) is present. If the wheels have security locking nuts, ensure that the nut to release them is present.
What we’ve just described takes a couple of hours if you keep at it. But if you’re too busy (or just hate car cleaning) then £100 spent with a professional valet firm will repay itself come sale time.