How to sell your car in a few easy steps

There are around seven million used cars bought and sold in Britain each year, and many of them change hands through private sales. If you’re thinking of selling your vehicle, here’s a helpful step-by-step guide to walk you through the process…

1. Decide how to sell your car

According to The AA, the simplest way to sell your vehicle is to trade it in or part exchange it when you’re buying a new one. But these aren’t the only options.

– Car buying companies

Flogging your motor to a car buying service is quick and easy, and you’ll often get a web valuation straight away. Some even guarantee you a sale. However, this will give you the lowest price and so if you value your cash over your time, then maybe this isn’t for you.

Comparison sites Confused.com and Motorway.com will give you an indication of what firms are willing to pay for your vehicle, and you can decide if this is an option.

– Car sign

Put a “for sale” sign in your rear window that gives your contact details and the price. This markets your car for free and gives potential buyers a chance to get a close-up inspection of your vehicle, cutting the number of time wasters.

– Selling online

Advertise for free on a car sales site, such as Autotrader, Preloved or Gumtree. This is an efficient way of generating a sale, and gives you a much wider audience than just people who’ve spotted your car’s “for sale” sign.

You can also look at social media sites, such as Facebook Marketplace, to source potential buyers.

– Online auctions

If you decide to sell online, for instance on eBay, then you need to weigh up the pros and cons.

One positive is that you’ll get a secure payment for your vehicle. However, the downside is that with fees you will probably be selling it for less than it’s worth.

 2. Write an advert

Buyers will want to know all the information they can about your car; first and foremost, the make, model and year of registration – even if you’ve included a photo – as well as the total price.

Not only do these give the buyer essential information and help adverts to get picked up in online searches, they’re also a legal requirement.

It’s against the law to give an inaccurate description of the car you’re selling, and you will need to honestly include details, such as the mileage, colour, condition, MOT dates and whether the vehicle has a full service history or not.

Don’t forget to include any modifications or extras, as well as your contact details. 

3. Negotiate

It’s a buyer’s market, but some buyers are less savvy than others, so don’t be afraid to stand your ground. If you’re not good at haggling, ask someone who is to lend a helping hand in getting you the best possible price.

4. Get paid

Once you’ve agreed a price, it’s important to get paid securely…

 – Cash

Make sure you count the money and check for forgeries – as this can’t be rectified once the car is out of your possession. If you can, meet the buyer at a bank for the cash withdrawal so you know the money is genuine.

– Bank transfer

This will mean you have to give your bank details to the buyer, so it’s worth asking for proof of identity – a passport, for example – before doing so.

– Cheque or banker’s draft

These are the most common methods of defrauding sellers. If you decide to take payment this way, be sure the money has cleared and that you have proof of the buyer’s name and address – possibly a copy of a utility bill – so you can trace back the transaction and report it if there’s anything untoward.

Whichever way you get paid, always remember the number one rule of selling a car – don’t hand over the keys to the vehicle until you have the cash in your hand.

5. Complete the essential paperwork

Once you’ve agreed a sale and you have the cash in your hand/bank, make sure you dot all the Is and cross all the Ts…

  • Write a duplicate receipt, giving one to the buyer and keeping a copy for you. Make sure it includes the date of sale, price, make and model, registration number, and the names and addresses for both you and the buyer.
  • Complete and send the V5C to the DVLA to alert them of the new keeper details (section 6) and sign over ownership (section 8).
  • Give the new keeper part of the V5C to the buyer.
  • Hand over all the keys, the handbook, the logbook, service history and any receipts you have, along with an MOT certificate if the car is over three years old.
  • Importantly, be sure to make a record of the buyer’s name and address, just in case anyone ever contacts you about the sale.

6. Stay safe

Millions of cars change hands every year, but it’s worth keeping your wits about you if you’re planning to sell your vehicle.

Avoid fraudulent buyers

A high-value item like a car is a prime target for unscrupulous fraudsters. If you’re selling your car privately then be aware of some common scams…

  • Avoid “car exporters” who asks you to transfer shipping fees or upfront costs.
  • Ignore any car buying and selling websites that contacts you asking for your payment details for your card.
  • Double check telephone numbers of text messages that may charge you a premium rate if you respond.
  • Don’t sell to any buyer who wants to pay by cheque and take the car before it’s had a chance to clear.
  • Dodge any buyer who is willing to buy your car unseen and offers the full asking price or more. These fraudsters commonly reverse PayPal transactions and leave you out of pocket.

Be secure

Potential buyers are likely to be complete strangers, and so taking some basic security precautions is vital…

  • Always make sure a friend or family member can be present at any viewing appointments.
  • Ask the buyer to bring proof of identity and ask for their valid driver’s licence details in advance.
  • Never leave the keys in the ignition or a potential buyer alone in your car.
  • Don’t allow buyers to go on unsupervised test drives and make sure you’re in the passenger seat before you hand over the keys.
  • Make sure you have the cash in your hand or bank account before you hand over the keys and documents.
  • When arranging a test drive, make sure the potential buyer has proof they’re insured to drive your car. Often a “driving other cars” policy will only provide third party cover. If they have an accident as an uninsured driver in your car then you won’t be covered for any damage.

Now you’ve got your tips on how to sell your motor, why not check out our handy car buying guide.

1 Comment

  1. Heather de vos says:

    Good advise… as i am om my own…thsnk you

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