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How To Sell a Used Car That Has Aftermarket Modifications

How To Sell a Used Car That Has Aftermarket Modifications

When a car is yours, it’s natural for you to think about all the aftermarket modifications you want to add for it to reflect your personality. But if you are not planning to keep your car for a long time, and perhaps sell it after 3 years, you might want to hold back on these modifications as they can actually reduce the resale value of your car. Nonetheless, you can still find ways on how to sell a used car that has aftermarket modifications, and get a decent offer for it. Here’s how: 

Auto Repairs Are EXPENSIVE


  1. Determine the right price for your car – This is probably the most difficult and crucial part when selling a used car, especially when it has aftermarket modifications. Setting your price too high will make people lose interest in it, but setting it too low means you are selling yourself short. Since you are no Carmax, expect negotiation and haggling. Be sure to set a price that gives you a little buffer. Buyers want to feel like they got a great deal because they were able to buy it for a lower price. 


In determining the price, you can begin with the average quote you get from KBB, Cars.com, CarsGuru.com, and NADA prices for your car as a baseline. Add premium to modifications done to the vehicle that is reasonable. It’s also a matter of presentation. While modifications can hurt the resale value of a car, you can list them down and see which you can present that can add value to the car.


Best to have the receipts available to prove the work was done. This is especially important to engine or suspension modifications because they are not readily seen when checking the car visually. If you had a piece of high-performance equipment built for your car, this may add value to it. You can prove that the work was done properly with receipts for the parts and labor. 


  1. Sell the original parts with the car. If you still have the car parts that were taken off to make way for aftermarket or custom parts, sell these with the car. For example, if you upgraded the wheels and still have the original then offer these as well so the buyer has the option of returning the car to how it originally was. You can offer these with the selling price of the car. 


  1. Write an effective classified ad. Put yourselves in the shoes of the buyer when writing your ad. This will give you an idea of what you want to include. But be sure to include the basics: year, make, model, price, mileage, color, location, private or dealer listing, transmission, drivetrain, contact information, and high-resolution photos showing the vehicle from every angle, including interior, exterior, wheels and engine. You can also include photos of tread depth of tires, curb rash, and odometer. 


The following are also highly recommended to be included in the ad: options it came with from the factory, modifications, maintenance history, and issues/defects/flaws.


You can also include these details: the reason for sale and CarFax


  1. Advertise in car enthusiasts forums online. It is best to start with forums and message boards given the niche market of your car with aftermarket modifications. Choose forums that enthusiasts of your car or similar cars like to come together. This is an ideal platform to advertise your car since these people get the point of modifying a car. 


If you are unfamiliar with the right forums and message boards, do your research. Most of these message boards will allow you to list your car and parts for free as long as you have a few prior posts and follow the rules of the board.


You will also receive valuable feedback on the listing accuracy and thoroughness. You may start to get start offers depending on your vehicle and modifications. You may have a buyer for a certain part instead of the car. Consider the offer. Update your post if a part has been removed. 

Do modifications lower car value?

Yes, they do. Modifications can significantly drop the resale value of your car depending on the car and mainly because of the buyer’s preference. This is because cars are made to spec for a reason. The original parts fit perfectly because they were made to. The tires, frame, engines, suspension and brakes are all selected, manufactured and tuned for specific traits that the carmaker decided on years in advance.


Modifying a car can ruin the integrity of its design, and unless done correctly, can do much more damage. For example, you want to make your car faster so you change some things on the engine. The problem here is when the modification alters the air/fuel ratios, causing the engine to run lean (not enough fuel), or rich (too much fuel). Either one of the two situations can result in long term damage.


Does this mean all modifications are bad?


Not necessarily. There are rare instances and certain circumstances that modifications do not actually destroy or lower the car’s value. For example, you have a Corolla that has been modified to be a race car. For a buyer looking for a regular good-conditioned Corolla, your car is worthless due to the modifications you’ve done with it. But someone who wants a racing Corolla will be thrilled with your car. 


Modifying your car also means narrowing down your potential market once you resell it — whether it is a modification in style, performance or any other parts. For example, the prospective buyer may not like a giant stereo system and aftermarket alarms because they can complicate the electrical system of the car. 


Different Kinds Of Modifications

Aside from modifications done for racing, there are also modifications done for style and fun. An example of this is those little TVs in the headrest and that could add value to the right buyer. However, a different buyer may not like it due to not wanting to deal with an added potential electrical problem. The same goes for aftermarket alarms. 

Acceptable Modifications

Generally, performance and style modifications are not good for resale. The question now is, are they any modification that can be done to boost resale value? The answer is not a definite yes or no, but a maybe and that also depends. 

Modifications that take existing parts and improve on them could be taken as good investments. For example, the thermostat housing on the late ‘90s 3 series BMW is plastic. These cars are known for failing cooling systems so if you replace that plastic thermostat housing with a metal housing, it is actually a good modification that can improve the car. Another example of a good type of modification is replacing the plastic impeller on the water pump with a metal one.

For any type of car, a good modification, in general, is a better braking system. Changing to better brake pads such as ceramic or metallic alone will improve stopping power, and changing to cross-drilled and slotted rotors are good improvements, too. But do take note that you have to leave the job of replacing your brakes to a professional as this is one of the most important parts of the car. Also, make sure that the parts are built for your specific car. 

 Keep The Original Parts 

If you really want to modify your vehicle, just make sure not to throw out the original parts. This can make it easier for you to sell your car by giving a buyer an option to put the original parts back on. 

How To Be Smart About Modifying Your Car

Do your research before doing any modifications. You have to be sure that the parts you are replacing are a genuine fit, and if your automaker made better parts later that didn’t make it into your car, use those. Original Equipment Manufacturer or OEM parts are always the best fit since they were manufactured for your specific car. If ever you choose to do the changes on your own, have a mechanic double-check what you’ve done. 

What increases the value of a car?

Millions of used cars are sold annually. If you want to increase the value of your used car, you should make it as appealing as possible to attract buyers. Here are some helpful tips to get you the most money when selling your used car:

  • Clean it. First impressions are very important. You would want to present a car that is clean and shiny. The better your car looks, the more appealing it is to buyers. Consider detailing it as well. 
  • Repair any minor dings or dents. Any buyer looking at a second-hand car will see any damage and start thinking about how much it is going to cost to fix it. They will then begin to deduct the amount to the price they might have been willing to pay for your car. But you should also consider the price of the car if it only costs a couple of thousand dollars then it is probably not worth spending a hundred dollars for a repair.
  • Get the paperwork in order. Serious buyers will want to know how the car has been taken care of. This is why you should have maintenance and service records. Also, keep receipts for the work carried out. You’ll lose potential buyers if you cannot provide documentation of the services that have been done to your car. You will also lose 20 percent off the price.
  • Have your car serviced. It might be worth having your car serviced, especially when it’s due soon anyway. There are many competitions out there. You would not want to lose any edge by not having a full-service history.
  • Find anything that came with your car. It definitely is an advantage to have that parcel shelf, spare wheel or tool kit. By having all the items with your car, you are getting rid of the reasons for them not to buy your car, and prevent them from lowering the price. 

Does a new engine increase the value of my car?

Selling a used car can be challenging, but a used car that has a new engine can definitely attract more prospective buyers and can increase the value of your car.

Improved Performance

A brand new, factory-made engine in a used car definitely gives you an edge. A used car with a new engine allows you to ask a higher price than the same car with the original engine. This is clearly due to the fact that the new engine will have no wear and tear that the original engine has, improving the vehicle's overall performance.

Explaining Used Car Price

Edmunds, Kelley Blue Book and other similar organizations use depreciation models to establish the current value of a used car depending on the original manufacturer's suggested retail price and current operating condition. Thus, a new engine in a used car that used to be in poor condition because of the old engine may raise the condition to good or very good, increasing the selling price that could be offered.


Do note that it doesn’t mean that your car has a new engine that it will get a higher selling price than the kbb value. This is due to the fact that those prices assume that the car is already in good working condition with a functioning engine. Having a new engine does not make your entire car “new” so you cannot be sold as such. 


Selling a car itself is a daunting task itself. It becomes more challenging if you are selling a car that has aftermarket modifications. Your potential market becomes narrower when you add modifications. For example, not everyone is a fan of a customized car and parts are made specifically for that car and replacing them can hurt the integrity of the car and its value. But the good news is if you know how to sell a used car that has aftermarket modifications, you can still get a good asking price. 


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