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How to sell a car

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It is very easy to sell your car is to trade it in when you buy a new one or to sell it to a car buying service. However, this will give you the lowest price. Selling privately should get you more cash. And assuming you can find a buyer, but won’t be as convenient. You will have to,

  • find space for two cars at home
  • Having a insurance cover and car tax on two cars
  • arrange and pay for advertising
  • deal with potential buyers – enquiries, viewings and test drives
  • get paid and make sure that funds are in your account before you hand over the keys.

Before you advertise your car

Your car ready to sell is essential if you want to sell it quickly and get the best price presentation. Service history and mechanical condition can all make the changes.

  • You should clean it inside and out and make sure that it’s generally tidy
  • As well as get a new MOT, particularly if there are less than three months on the current one.
  • Carefully repair minor paintwork damage or simple mechanical faults
  • It is important to consider a full and professional valet service – it’ll save you time and can really make a difference

The legal bit

For a private buyer it is a case of ‘buyer beware’ but that doesn’t mean you can sell a car in any condition or describe it as something it is not.

  • You should have the right to sell it
  • The vehicle should be roadworthy
  • The vehicle should match your description

Tips for a smooth car sale


  • You have to price your car realistically – particularly if you want a quick sale
  • Then have to check the prices of similar cars in popular classified ad magazines or online


  • You can not sell a car with outstanding finance
  • This includes conditional sale agreements or outstanding hire-purchase
  • If you want to sell, get the finance company’s permission or settle the finance first


  • Don’t make false or reckless claims
  • Then take care of how you word your advert – lines like ‘first to see will buy’ won’t convince anyone.


  • Describe the car as accurately as possible
  • In advertisements, stick to facts that will interest potential buyers
  • And also make sure you quote the year/number plate, how many months are left on the MOT and where in the country you’re located
  • You should get a clear awareness that thieves may contact you pretending to be potential buyers. If you provide details of the car like the VIN number over the phone, or share personal details they could use the information to create a cloned advert.
  • Good buyers will be happy to come and view the vehicle and check vehicle details for themselves.


  • State the car’s condition clearly in adverts and on the receipt
  • If it’s being sold for spares only or requires substantial repairs, say so
  • once you’ve agreed to sell Include this information on the receipt


  • You should have all documents and history to hand including MOT certificates and service records
  • Don’t let buyers make copies or take photos of vehicle documents
  • Then keep receipts for any work carried out while you’ve owned the car
  • Completely stamped dealer service record adds value if you’ve got one
  • Never forget to hand over all relevant documents when you sell

Test drive

  • Take the buyer’s connection details when arranging for them to come and view/test drive the car – name, address and phone number. A buyer will be happy to do so and will understand if you call back to confirm arrangements and check the number given. 
  • Ask the buyer to show you their driving licence if they’re expecting to test drive the car.
  • Insist that the buyer comes to see the car at your home address – a genuine buyer will be happy to do so. 
  • Then check that the buyer is insured to test drive the car. Your own insurance may cover you. See the test drive tips for more advice on insurance cover 
  • Don’t be a victim of car theft
    • always accompany prospective buyers on a test drive 
    • if you want to change seats part way through, take the keys with you and hand them over when you get back in the car 
  • There are safety and confidence in numbers – ask a friend or relative to accompany you while the buyer is viewing the car and on the test drive

Get paid

  • Consider arranging to be handed the cash at your bank or an online bank transfer are the safest way of getting paid
  • Don’t let anyone drive your car away until you’re satisfied that you’ve been paid in full
  • Bank transfers are quicker these days thanks to the ‘Faster Payments’ system. As well as customers can make payments over the phone or through online banking all day, every day
  • An immediate bank transfer can be made using the CHAPS system (a fee is payable). CHAPS payments are irrevocable
  • ESCROW, where the money is held by a third party on behalf of transacting parties is a safe way of receiving payment for a vehicle but you will need to make sure that the company is legitimate.  Then you have to check using the FSA register of payment services firms authorised in the UK
  • If you are given a building or personal society cheque, wait for it to clear in your bank before you hand the car over
  • Remember that banker’s drafts can be forged – if you accept payment by this method it’s important to wait until you’re sure the funds have been cleared into your account before handing over the keys.
  • Let’s follow and
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