Top tips for selling your car

Looking to get the best price for your car? Follow our handy guide on selling privately 

4 minutes

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Thinking about selling your car? Whether it's your first time or if you've done it before, it can be a daunting task. You'll need to think about setting the right price, getting your car ready to show to people, and all the steps to make it officially someone else's.

But don’t worry, we’ve got you covered! We've put together an easy-to-follow guide to help you sell your vehicle.
  • You’ll get less money selling a 4x4 in the summer than in the winter
  • You can sell a car privately or to a dealer
  • Lots of people forget to wipe their data before selling a car

It can be tricky to sell your car privately, but it could net you more money

Should you sell your car?

There are lots of factors to consider when selling your car. Some important things to think about before you make the decision to call it quits with your old ride include:

  • Is your car unreliable? Does it keep breaking down? If so, get rid!
  • Is your car costing you a lot to run? If you’re constantly having to pay for upkeep, getting it fixed or maintaining the vehicle, it’s probably not worth forking out lots of cash to keep it going.
  • Is it worth considering a car that’s more economical in the long run? 
  • Is your car good for the environment? If your car’s quite old, it might not be very kind to the environment. With ULEZ zones expanding and the government pushing for greener vehicles, it may not be good for your pocket either. 

These are all valid reasons to sell your car, but you also might be at a point in your life where you just need a change. Whether that’s because you need a bigger car for a growing family, or you're moving to a bigger city and need a smaller vehicle. Maybe you just don’t need a car anymore... and then there are those of us that simply can’t resist a newer model!


Consider your options

There are lots of ways you can get rid of your car and earn a bit of cash for it, with each option having their own pros and cons. If you’re buying a new car with a dealership, you could part exchange... and its relatively straight forward. This means handing your old car over to the dealership in exchange for some money off the new one. The dealership will value your car for you, so make sure you have a good idea of what it's worth beforehand to make sure their offer is fair.

You can also choose to scrap your car, especially if there’s damage or wear and tear that you don’t want to pay for or if it’s completely written off. But once a car heads to the scrapyard, that’s it – so have a good long think about whether your car has really driven its last drive. If you take the car to the scrapyard yourself, you might even get a bit of money for it. Check out our guide on how to scrap your car for more information.

Selling your car at auction can be a bit hit and miss because you don't know if it will sell or whether you'll get a good price.  However, you can put a reserve on the car, to set the minimum price you’re willing to accept.

Selling privately could get you 10-15% more than selling through a dealer, but it can take time and a certain amount of know-how to secure a good sale.

No one wants to buy a dustbin on wheels. Give your car a good wash and polish, touch up any paint scratches, hoover inside and ditch any kids' toys.

Seven steps to making a private sale work for you

1. Valuing your car

Be realistic about the amount you can get for your car. You can use the motor press or online valuers to give you an indication of a fair price. Remember this is the selling price, so if you think buyers will haggle, you might want to add a bit to the base price. 

It’s also worth considering if it’s the right time of year. Working out the best time to sell your car will help you get a better deal. If you’re struggling to sell a convertible in the winter, you might have a better chance of selling it in the summer when it’ll be more in demand. Likewise, selling a big 4x4 in the winter months makes more sense as people are more likely to be looking for a sturdy, weather-resistant car.

2. Spruce it up

No one wants to buy a dustbin on wheels. Give your car a good wash and polish, touch up any paint scratches, hoover inside and ditch any kids' toys. Then take lots of photos.

3. Create an advert

There are plenty of places to advertise your car for sale. Social media, online listings, printed listings, local papers, motoring press, even put a note in the side window of your car.

State the facts about your car:

  • Mileage
  • Make and model
  • Full service history
  • New tyres or other new parts
  • In car entertainment, Bluetooth, etc.

Be honest about the condition of the car. You'll just waste your time if buyers turn up expecting pristine bodywork when it has a few knocks and dents. Photos of the car and bodywork can help manage expectations.

Also, be aware that you can't sell a car with outstanding finance on it. You should contact your finance company for a settlement figure and pay it off before you sell.

4. Where to sell your car

Now, you’ve got everything ready, it’s time to upload your advert and photos and get selling! Some useful options for sites where you can sell your car online include:

  • Ebay Motors
  • Facebook Marketplace
  • Autotrader

5. Showing buyers your car

Understandably, you'll be delighted that someone has shown an interest in your car, but it doesn't mean you should let them drive off alone into the sunset.

A few precautions when it comes to showing buyers around your car can help safeguard against theft and fraud.

  • Take down details - When they call to make an appointment to view the car, take their name, address and contact number.
  • Check their documents - Ask the buyer to bring their driving licence and insurance details when they come along.
  • Meet in a public place - Don't meet the buyer with the car somewhere remote. Make sure they come to your home to view the car.
  • Check their car insurance - Check the buyer's insurance details before they drive the car. If you're worried they may not be covered, you may be able to extend your car insurance to cover other drivers.
  • Accompany them on a test drive - Always go with the buyer on a test drive. Better yet, take a friend with you for extra security.
  • Check keys - Don't leave the keys in the ignition if you exit the vehicle when swapping over to change drivers.

6. Taking payment

So, you've agreed a price, now comes the payment.

Whatever method the buyer uses to pay you, don't let them take the car until the payment has cleared.

This could be a few days if they pay by cheque, or just a few minutes if they pay by bank transfer 'faster payment'.

If the buyer pays in cash, check it's all there before they leave. You could even ask to meet the buyer at the bank, so you can safely put the cash in your account there and then.

Write a receipt for the car when payment’s gone through. There are some handy car seller's contract templates online you can use as proof of sale.

7. Clear your data

Most people don’t think to clear their personal data from their car before they sell it. This can include things like having your phonebook in your car, stored data in your Bluetooth system or leaving addresses in your sat-nav.

So, make sure you haven't left any important documents in your car, or personal data in your car's multimedia system. You may want to check your vehicle handbook or ask your dealer for advice on how to do this.


Transferring ownership

Until you transfer ownership of the car to the new keeper, you’re still the registered owner. You should transfer ownership as soon as possible, so you don't get penalised for any infringements by the new owner.

As the person selling the car, you must complete section 6 of the V5C – this is the registration certificate. Fill in the name of the new keeper, sign it, tear it off and send it to the DVLA. The remainder of the document goes to the new keeper.

Don’t forget to hand over the handbook, service history and MOT certificate.

And remember to cancel your insurance or transfer your policy to your new car.

Job done!


Check out LV = insurance to make sure you’re insured on your next vehicle!


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