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Car travelling down road.

Tips for selling a car

Selling a car can be quite stressful because there's a lot to think about, but the following tips can help you achieve a successful, hassle-free sale.

What are the options for selling your car?

  • You can sell it to a dealership which is hassle-free but won't necessarily get you the best price.
  • If you intend buying another car from a dealer they may be willing to buy your car in part exchange. Again, it's simple but you may not get the full market value of the car with a part-exchange deal.
  • You can advertise and sell your car yourself.

Tips for selling your car

If you decide to sell your car yourself, you'll need to consider the following:

  • Preparing your car for sale
  • Selling price
  • Advertising
  • Dealing with buyers
  • Arranging payment
  • Completing the paperwork

Preparing your car for sale

It goes without saying that a clean and tidy car, inside and out, will sell faster than one that looks dirty and uncared for. So invest some time washing your car and vacuuming the interior (including the boot). You may even want to hang an air freshener from your rear view mirror so the car smells good too.

Make sure you've done all the usual maintenance checks like oil, water and coolant levels as well as inflating the tyres to the correct pressure.

Once your car looks shiny and new, gather all the paperwork you'll need, including:

  • Valid MOT
  • V5 logbook
  • Service history

Selling price

It's important to do your research. Set the price too high and your car may hang around; too low and people may feel you're trying to offload a problem vehicle.

There are lots of websites that specialise in selling used cars and you can look in the classified ads in local papers. Search for cars that are the same make, model and age as yours to get an idea of the average price. Whatcar?, Parkers and Auto Trader offer online valuations but remember to factor in the mileage and condition of your car because these will affect the selling price.

Once you have a realistic idea of your car's value, make sure you add on a small amount to give yourself room to haggle, since most buyers will try to knock down the price.


Your local paper will probably run classified car advertisements but if you want to reach a larger number of people, try advertising online with companies like Parkers, Whatcar?, Auto Trader etc. You can either pay to advertise in a specific region or nationwide and the cost of the advert tends to increase, the wider you go.

When you write your advert, keep it short, simple and concentrate on the most important details, including:

  • Make, model and year
  • Mileage
  • MOT and car tax still to run
  • Service history
  • Key features such as electric windows, air conditioning, sunroof, leather seats etc.

Your car is likely to sell more quickly if you also include one or more photos on your advert. Try to take them on a dry, bright day when the car has just been cleaned. Take at least one photo showing the whole car from the outside, as well as individual shots of the interior or special features such as a sporty dashboard or alloy wheels.

Dealing with buyers

Buyers will want to view the car at your own home so they know you are a genuine seller. You may feel nervous or even excited at the prospect of someone contacting you to arrange a viewing but try to remain friendly and relaxed. This will help inspire more confidence in the buyer. Also give them as much time as they need to inspect the car inside, outside and under the bonnet.

Most buyers will want to test drive the car and you should:

  • Check they have suitable car insurance and ask to see proof of this
  • Make sure the car has a valid MOT
  • Always accompany the buyer on a test drive and remove the keys if you swap drivers
  • Ask them to leave their own car keys or driving licence at your home for security

If, for any reason, you are unhappy to let them test drive the car, you can offer to drive them. You may wish to take a friend or another member of your family with you. Take them on a half hour's drive on a mix of major and minor roads so they can see how the car performs and make sure the radio/CD player is turned off so they can hear the engine.

Arranging payment

If the buyer is happy and wishes to buy your car, be prepared for them to haggle. After all, you are both trying to get the best deal you can. Decide, in advance, the lowest price you are happy to take and stick to it!

Depending on the price of your car, the buyer may have brought the cash to pay for it. If so, the sale will be very straightforward. Alternatively, you could offer to hold onto the car for a set period until they can bring the cash.

If you're asking for a fairly large amount of money the buyer may prefer to pay by cheque or banker's draft. If so, you should issue them with a receipt for the money but hold onto the car until the funds have cleared with your bank and you can draw on them.

Completing the paperwork

In all the excitement of selling your car, don't forget the paperwork!

  • Issue the buyer with a receipt that includes details of the car, the buyer and the amount they have paid with 'Sold as seen' on the bottom.
  • Give the buyer the MOT certificate.
  • Also give them the New Keeper section of the V5 logbook and ask them to complete their details, and write the mileage of the car, on the main part of the V5 form.
  • You must send the completed form back to the DVLA, who will send the buyer an updated V5 logbook that confirms they are the new owner.
  • Don't forget to let your car insurance company know that you've sold the car.