On the verge of selling my sedan... do regular maintenance before selling?

I am on the verge of selling my car, only around 80k miles for a 2005 Mitsubishi Galant ES, with some small dings. Engine itself has no problem. Barely use it outside of home-work commute. Should I go to the dealer and have it done a regular maintenance before selling it to them. I have been advised several times by the service manager that since I barely use my car, an oil change every 6month will suffice. But right now it has been over 6month since my last regular maintenance.

I barely go out after work or during my day offs so I’ll just borrow the brother’s extra car for home-work commute.

If you are trading the car in to the same dealer who would do the oil change, or any dealer for that matter, they won’t give you a dime extra for your car with fresh oil. They will look at a book (NADA, KBB, or whatever) to determine what your car is worth WHOLESALE, and probably offer you somewhat less than that for it. Remember, all things are negotiable. That’s why they will start with a lowball offer. You will get much closer to retail for it if you sell it yourself through craigslist or whatever local advertising works. If you do sell it privately, an oil change might look better to a buyer who doesn’t know that is prudent to see oil that is slightly dark and not down on the dipstick. That indicates that the car is probably not an oil user. (It’s not, is it?) Fresh oil tells me that the seller is trying to cover up a lack of recent oil changes with ONE fresh one.

Probably doesn’t matter if you are dealing with a used car or dealer lot. Selling to a private party it might though. When I have purchased used cars, I always checked all the fluid levels I could check under hood with a dipstick, and paid special att’n to the color of the engine oil.

@GeorgeSanJose what did you decide from that oil if it was new?

I agree that doing any maintenance won’t make a bit of difference in what they offer you. Catching up maintenance can get expensive; especially if the timing belt has not been done.

If the timing belt has not been done what will likely happen in the future is that the vehicle will change hands a few times among dealers before being sold. At some point the belt will break and cause engine damage which will then lead to accusations of the dealer being a crook.

@“MG McAnick” … my preference is to see a healthy light brown color. New, I’m a little suspicious, so I might check around a little more, looking for leaks, tailpipe residue & smoke, unusual engine sounds, especially during hard acceleration, but if nothing obvious shows up I don’t discount for new oil. Just assuming the seller wants to put the car’s best wheel forward.

@GeorgeSanJose I look at fresh oil as someone trying to cover up past sins. As you said, light brown is far better.

I’m not sure I understand: OP, are you asking, from MORAL standpoint, if you ought to keep up on the maintenance of a car you’re about to sell…or are you wondering if it might be beneficial selling strategy?

In either event, it makes no difference, if you’re selling to the dealer. They won’t offer you more for the fresh oil, and they will (or at least OUGHT to) go over stuff like that before putting it on the lot.

For a used car, YES I think you have a moral obligation to your fellow man to keep up with the maintenance…even though the downsides of being lax are borne by the next owner. You may or may not realize a profit on this, but be sure to point out how you’ve taken care of “your baby!”


No chance the seller has actually taken good care of the vehicle . . . ?!

I’ve looked at a few cars, where the owner tells me how well maintained the car is. While he’s talking, I’m checking out the car. A few times, it was obvious he was telling the truth.

That’s never happened to you . . . ?!

There are two different issues here.

As for the question of giving up on maintenance, I keep up on my car’s scheduled maintenance right to the end. As already mentioned, if the car is traded in, it won’t make any difference on the value, but if it’s sold privately, complete maintenance records can help you justify a higher price. However, I feel like meanjoe75fan in that I don’t want to cause a problem for the next owner in either case, so that’s why I do it.

The other issue is that it’s not clear to me that you’re following the manufacturer’s maintenance schedule here. If you’re doing more frequent maintenance because you’re listening to the service advisor, then maybe you’re not really due for this service in the first place.

As an individual buying cars, I would prefer that the prior owner does NOT do any maintenance like changing fluids right before the sale. I want to be able to see the current state of them, they hold clues to the condition. Not unlike buying a house with a septic tank. Please do not pump before I have my inspection. The most valuable information is lost if you do and I’m going to factor that into the purchase decision…my first impression is not that you are doing me a favor, rather I suspect you may be trying to hide something. Call me a cynic but I’ve caught too many people trying to pull fast ones so that is my default position…

I see no difference between a dealer and a private seller having fresh fluids and detailed vehicle to make it look as good as it can. That way the buyer does not have to decide what they need to do before showing it to friends. If faults are going to be hidden it will happen anyway.

Any car I’ve sold in the past had the maintenance up to date and a binder with all the receipts of past work done. It really helped the sale especially with my 1988 Caprice which I sold to a young German who was wide-eyed at the neat maintenance history and the condition of the car.

Most buyers, that is the consumer in the end, not the dealer who is the middleman, are going to do oil and coolant changes, even if you have just done them.

But you should still stick to the maintenance schedule. What if you don’t sell/trade the vehicle as soon as you think you are. Sometimes (most times) there are delays in finding just what you want and then negotiating the deal.

If you have been keeping a log of all the maintenance, a fresh oil change should not unduly alarm a potential buyer if it is on schedule. The log is actually more important than a recent oil change.

I have sold all my cars myself, if I know a car is going to fall apart tomorrow, I guess I will give it to the dealer, but so far that has not been the case. I do the maintenance as it is needed. If it is due for oil change, then I do it, if I need gas, then I fill up. As I always put an ad online, I don’t even know when the car would sell, so I am driving it and maintaining it as if it were mine (which still is). But I also understand that even though the new tires might be a plus for the buyer, they are not going to pay me the extra $XXX I paid for them.