7 seemingly trivial details that can make your car impossible to sell

By Ryan Ong



When buyers purchase a car, they look for important, substantial details. Things like the mileage, or the fuel efficiency.

Then when they’re done with that, the madness begins – they start looking at details so trivial, you think it can’t possibly make a difference; but it does.

We got a few discreet vehicle-selling tips from a veteran used car seller:

1. The colour of your car can affect how quickly it’s sold


According to our contact, the “safest” car colours are black, white, and silver. The (totally unproven) theory going around is that these colours sell better, because they are the ones commonly used in car advertisements and it suits the image the buyers already have in mind.

For example, buyers don’t seem to mind red or yellow is when it’s a Mazda, because the company constantly markets its cars in those colours. But a yellow or red BMW strikes many buyers as being somehow “off”.

Our contact warned us that two particular colours are off-putting to many buyers: bright blue and yellow (with the exception of Mazdas), because we associate those colours with Comfort del Gro taxis.



2. The smell of your car matters


Obviously, no one wants to a buy a car that smells like the inside of an NS man’s sock. But that’s not the only kind of smell that buyers find off-putting.

If your car is saturated with the scent of lavender air-freshener over six years of use (and certain types of fabric absorb the smell and never let it go), it can be off-putting to some buyers.

The same goes if you’re the sort who puts pandan leaves in your car to stave off insects – some people find the scent appalling.

Give the interior a deep clean, or find some way to mask the scent, before approaching a buyer for your car.

3. Modified dashboard lights and gear stick


If you’ve modified your dashboard to have running neon or LED lights, and your gearstick ends in a giant crystal ball, try to tone it done before selling.

We’re not one to make judgements on anyone’s taste but some people find that sort of thing too pretentious. And they will absolutely not invite a friend into their car with all that stuff going on.

You could remind the buyer they can easily get rid off it but the easier you make it on a buyer, the easier you’ll close the sale.

4. Crumbs in the seats


Sensibly, a bit of dirt in the car shouldn’t put off the buyers. They can just go to the nearest car wash and get everything cleaned out. However, human psychology doesn’t quite work that way.


Our contact mentioned he was obsessive about keeping the inside of a car clean: all it takes is for the buyer to find a cookie crumb in a seat or a sweet wrapper tucked beside a chair, and they are likely to develop a keen sense of disgust. And even if they know they can get it cleaned later, their imagination may get the better of them.

Deep clean your car (check under the car mats too), and be sure you get rid of any debris. If you have pets, watch out for old fur.

5. The license plate number

It doesn’t matter whether you believe in bad luck, all that matters is whether the prospective buyer does. If you have an unlucky plate number (something with a lot of 4’s in it), this can put off a superstitious buyer.


Be prepared to answer the occasional question about whether the car’s license plate has ever “won 4D”. You may think that’s a joking question, and half the time it is – but it may not be a laughing matter to the person asking.

On the upside, if your plate number happens to have meaning to the prospective buyer (e.g. it’s their birth date), they may decide its predestined; you could have a sale even if your car’s an old clunker.

6. The car’s story


According to our contact, a common mistake when selling the car is to tell the wrong story.

Although buyers have no way to verify what you’re saying, the story behind your car makes a difference to them anyway.

For example, if you explain that the car was used only to travel to and from Sheng Siong for the past five years, that might make buyers think: “Oooh, the engine must be like new”.

Sadly, some sellers come up with no story, or the wrong story. Explaining how you love fast cars, and took yours to the track in Malaysia to drift race, is a bad idea. Not everyone is excited about buying a car that you really put to the test.

Likewise, some buyers may have taboos about buying your car if you’re selling it because you got retrenched and can no longer afford it – they don’t want to “inherit” the bad luck they’ll now associate with it.

Our contact suggests you plan the story you’re going to tell, and avoid saying anything about accidents, poverty, or misfortune. Many a sale has been scuttled by a bad tale.

7. Some months can make it harder to sell your car


A general but unproven consensus among car salesmen is that the period between December to February is best for quick sales.

If you try to sell your car in the middle of the year, you may find available buyers are fewer, and impossibly picky about the price.


The theory is that, as the holiday season nears, more people will receive their bonuses. It’s also a time of year when people are more willing to spend in general (retail sales also rise at this time of year, for example).

For this reason, you might find your car is crazy difficult to sell in, say, April or June, but much easier to sell in early January.

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t make the effort to sell in April, of course – but if you don’t succeed, know that it could just be the time of year. If you can, be patient and try again later.


Armed with these tips and looking to sell your used car for a favourable rate? List your vehicles on Carousell’s car marketplace today!

And remember to jio your friends who wants to sell their used car – share this on social media so you can help them out too!

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