CarTalk.com Best of Deals Car Reviews Repair Shops Cars A-Z Radio Show

How to sell a car that leaked and has some mold now?

Hi, I am trying to sell a car that was part of my mother’s estate. It was left in the rain this winter and leaked - into the trunk and back seat. Once the weather warmed up, mold grew in the car. I am not sure how to sell it now. The blue book says it is worth $5300 in excellent condition (which it was in before the leak). How much can I ask for it now if I don’t fix it? If I need to fix it before selling it, do I need a special mold abatement car place or just someone to fix the leak and clean or detail the car? The car is in another state so this complicates things.

See if an auto detailer can fix it up otherwise get way less.

Mold in a car can be a total nightmare. A friend just bought a used Saturn for his daughter, and it turned out to have serious mold problems. The selling dealer twice took it back to give it multi-day ionizer treatment that didn’t eradicate the mold. He finally had to pay a specialty mold remediation shop to remove the entire carpet, kill all the mold growing on the floors, install all new carpet, etc, etc. Cost him $700, not to mention all the time he spent driving the thing around to the shops.

Once mold gets well-enough established inside a car, the spores are literally everwhere…inside the seat fabrics, the carpet, the header, the air ducts…everywhere.

If the mold problem in your car is bad enough, it’s going to be impossible for you, in another state, to verify for yourself that a shop you paid has actually gotten rid of all the mold.

If it were me, I wouldn’t even waste the time and money of trying to manage a mold removal project from another state. I’d simply state up front in the ad that the car has a mold problem, and sell it at a discount. When the price is right, some enterprising buyer will take it off your hands and try to do the mold remediation him or herself. And
I’d say, good luck to him/her.

One thing you should do is lower your expecatations about the condition and value. The odds of a used car being considered in “Excellent” condition are just about non-existent.
That description only applies to extremely low miles, as new on the showroom floor vehicles and very, very few meet this criteria.

What kind of car and how many miles on it?

As to mold the best bet is to have an established auto detailer have a go at it.

I’m sorry for the loss of your mother.

I bought a nice used complete interior for a Mistu Galant a few years ago. The original wasn’t moldy, just nasty, and PAINTED mostly blue. I see a complete interior change as the only true solution to your problem. Mold abatement requires killing of the existing mold, mold spores and all. The usual way is to use bleach. You can guess what bleach will do to your existing carpet and upholstery.

Unfortunately, being in another state makes it nearly impossible to take care of on your own. Do you have any good friends or relatives who lives nearby who might be willing to help? If they can find a detail shop willing to take it on, you have some assurance as to whether it is done well, but you still have to sell it. If it were mine, I’d put it on ebay with a realistic starting price, as is. Explain the situation so the buyer won’t back out when they come to pick up the car. Be prepared to take whatever it brings.

May I ask what kind of car it is, and a general region. I have friends in low places.

I offer my condolences, too. Do you have any relatives that live close to your mother’s home? Maybe they could help you through this problem. Maybe they could take the car to a detailer for a quote. If you do a web search:

“best auto detailer los angeles”

you will see many shops that could help you get rid of the mold. If your Mom did not live near LA, just insert her town and see what pops up. Call them and explain the problem and see what they say.

If you simply can’t deal with it, just list it on craigslist as “as is” and take whatever you can get…You may be surprised…Some people are not that bothered by mold…