Buyers demand discounts for dirty cars

Updated: 
cigarette butts Get out your mop, cleaning cloths and some elbow grease – it's time to clean your car if you want to get the best price when you sell it.

That's the advice form car insurance website elephant.co.uk, which looked at what adds value to a second-hand car and what makes potential buyers knock off a few quid before asking for the keys.



As well as a poor service history, lack of MOT and high mileage, car buyers don't like everyday spills and stains, dog smells and cigarette burns. Any or all of these could affect the value of your car.

So the advice is to thoroughly mop up spills, put a blanket down for pets and make small repairs to the interior. These will help ensure you get maximum value when you come to sell your car.


Researchers from elephant.co.uk talked to its network of approved repair garages to ask what things affect the value of a car. Smaller, less obvious faults such as stained or ripped upholstery, cigarette burns and dog smells appeared in the list as well as the more obvious lack of MOT, poor service history or high mileage.

Elephant.co.uk asked the garages to rank the 12 things that could knock value off the sale price of a car. The dirty dozen, in order of importance, are:
  • Lack of MOT
  • High mileage
  • Poor service history
  • Poor old repairs
  • Unrepaired damage dents
  • Scratched or damaged panels
  • Ripped or damaged seats or trim
  • Faded or poor colour matched paint work
  • Cigarette burns
  • Soiled, stained or sticky interior
  • Dog smells
  • Cigarette smells
Managing director of elephant.co.uk, Brian Martin says: "It's certainly common knowledge that a poor service history or lack of MOT will affect the amount you can ask for your vehicle when you come to sell it but our research has shown how smaller details matter too.

"I would certainly advise motorists not to cut any corners when it comes to the looking after their cars. Even simple things such as protecting your seats from pets or cleaning up spills can make a difference to the market value of your car."

The bods from elephant.co.uk also asked the garages how they thought motorists could maximise the value of their car. Apart from keeping the vehicle interior clean and fresh, the mechanics suggested keeping the fuel tank full and even having a full set of mats and mud flaps will all add value to a vehicle.

The glorious twelve things that could increase the value of a car are:
  • Low mileage
  • Full service history
  • Full year's MOT
  • Low number of previous owners
  • New or good condition tyres
  • Two sets of keys
  • Full year's tax
  • Valeted to high standards inside and out
  • Clean interior
  • Fresh and clean aroma inside the car
  • Full tank of fuel
  • Full set of mats and mud flaps

Martin says: "When selling a home, most of us would make sure it was clean, tidy and in as good condition as possible, and the same goes if you're selling your car. Whether that's privately or part exchange, take a look at our lists and see if there's anything you can do to maximise the price you get."

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