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Should You Bring Your Car Back to Stock Before Selling it? (YES!)

As Americans, we lot to modify our cars. It’s a deeply-engrained part of our car culture, to both personalize the style and enhance the power of these mechanical extensions of ourselves. Look on any car enthusiast forum, and one of the sections with the most threads and discussions is one pertaining to modifications, and it’s always staggering to see just how much people spend on tuning, modifying, hot-rodding, or whatever you like to call it.

Mods = Higher Resale Value?  Nope!

However, if you believe that spending a lot of money on aftermarket parts will increase the resale value of your vehicle, you are in for a very rude awakening. Although it may seem logical that all of those modifications–given how expensive they were–would allow you to get to top-dollar for your used vehicle, in practice this is almost never the case. Dealerships, for instance, as a rule do not offer higher trade-in values for “modded” vehicles, and private buyers are not willing to pay a premium either. This is largely because a vehicle that’s heavily-modified is a greater risk. Lots of hands have been tinkering under the hood or behind the wheels, and a buyer has no way to know if the workmanship is any good. What’s more, most buyers want to make a car their own–or at the very least, to keep it stock. They do not want to buy a piece of your own personality.

Pre-sale:  Bring Your Car Back to Stock

If you want to get the most out of your used vehicle, either in trade or on the private market, bring it back to stock before listing it for sale. You will almost certainly make more this way, because you can sell your aftermarket parts on ebay or the forums.  This is known as “parting-out” a vehicle, and you’d be surprised at how much of your investment you can recoup this way.  You don’t want to be one of those people with a Craigslist ad that says:  “$50K invested, selling for $15K.” This is also an important reason to keep your stock parts, so you don’t have to buy anything to bring the car back to stock. Be sure to eliminate even the smaller mods, like stickers and such–it’s known that buyers don’t want to buy a car speckled with someone else’s opinions, or even to know what those opinions were.  They want something as pristine as possible, even if the mileage tells a different story.