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Buying and selling a car

Selling your car: 8 things to remember

Selling a car can seem scary, but it doesn’t have to be difficult as you might think. Here are our 8 tips to help you get a quick sale and a great price.

  1. Make sure the price is right

    Top tip: Use a free online tool like Auto Trader's to help you value your car.

    Getting the price right is important. Look online to get an idea of how much similar cars are going for in your area to help you get an idea around what yours is worth.

    Note the mileage and condition of the cars, as well as whether they are for sale privately or through a dealer.

  2. Decide where to sell

    There used to be just two ways to sell your car: a trade-in / sale to a dealer or a private sale. These days you also have online auction sites as well as companies who will simply buy your car with no hassle whatsoever.

    Each option has its own pros and cons - a dealer or online buying company will certainly be the easiest option, but it won’t get you the most money.

    An online auction can be risky and selling privately on a listings site is definitely the most time consuming of all the options.

  3. Write a great advert

    If you decide to go down the route of a private sale, you can maximise interest by getting your advert just right.

    There are a number of different places you can advertise:

    • Local newspapers
    • 'Free ads' papers
    • The internet
    • Notices in local shop windows

    Online listing sites will usually help you by giving you a number of fixed fields to complete.


    1. Make & model
    2. Year of registration
    3. Plate number
    4. Mileage
    5. Service history
    6. Colour
    7. List of features
    8. Price
    9. Your contact details

    Keep the advert short and simple, and above all make sure you are honest - as well as avoiding wasting anyone’s time, it’s also worth remembering that it’s illegal to falsely advertise!

  4. Take good photos

    If you’re advertising online it’s really important that you include photos that show your car looking its best. It needn’t take long and you don’t need any fancy equipment - just follow these basic rules:

    • Clean the car inside and out
    • Make sure your pictures are sharp and in focus
    • Make sure there is clear space around the car so you can get the whole car in shot
    • Take photos when the car is well lit and dry
    • Photograph important positive details such as new tyres
    • And finally, don’t forget the interior!
  5. Prepare the car for sale

    It goes without saying that a potential buyer will want to take a good look at the car before they hand over any money.

    • Making sure your car is sparkly clean will reassure buyers that it’s been well looked after.
    • Don’t forget the inside - give your car a good clear-out and use an air freshener to get rid of any lingering smells.
    • Make sure you top up the oil and water as well as the air in the tyres if you need to.
    • Get all the paperwork together so it’s organised and ready for the buyer to look through. You’ll need the V5C registration certificate, the service history and MOT certificate - plus receipts for any work done, if you have them.
  6. Deal with potential buyers

    DO expect buyers to want to inspect the car and also take it for a test drive.

    DO always make sure they are insured to test drive the car - ask to see proof first.

    DO let potential buyers take their time inspecting the car and let them come back for a second look if they want to.

    DON’T ever let anyone test drive the car alone - they might not come back!

    Beware of canvassers who may contact you to try and persuade you to advertise elsewhere with a promise of buyers. They rarely live up to their own hype.

  7. Close the deal

    Top tip: Set up a free PayPal account so buyers can pay by card - it might persuade them to decide to buy there and then!

    Don’t be surprised if a buyer tries to haggle with you. Work out your lowest price in advance and make sure you stick to it!

    Make sure you’re happy with the payment method. Cash is most reliable but if you take payment in the form of a cheque, let the funds clear in your bank account before you let the buyer take the car.

  8. Take care of the paperwork

    You need to let the DVLA know straight away when you sell your car by completing and posting the relevant parts of the log book. You’ll also need to let your insurance company know you’ve sold your car.

    Finally, keep a note of the buyer's details. Just in case...

Make sure you tell the DLVA you've sold your car - find all the steps here.