Written by Graham Cutbill-White
If you’re looking to sell your car, there are a number of ways to do it. Depending on how much time and effort you want to invest in the whole process, there’s a selling solution that’s right for you.
If like most people looking to get rid of their old car, the price is the most important factor, you’re more than likely to get the best price if you sell your car privately. It may take more of your time, but it will save you all those extras costs that come with selling your car to a dealer or with an online middleman.
Unfortunately, despite the prospect of more money for your car, many sellers are put off selling their cars privately, mainly because of a lack of knowledge or experience in doing so.
Selling your car privately is however far easier than you might imagine, you don’t need to be a wheeler-dealer or even a car expert to make a sale quickly and for a fair price.
If you’re about to sell your car or a struggling to find a buyer at the price you want, check out this guide on how to sell your car privately – it’s full of all the useful information you need, top tips and things to watch out for when getting rid of your old car.
This is probably the most important step in the selling process because if your car isn’t up to scratch, you’re very unlikely to find a buyer.
Even if by some chance you do manage to lure someone in, if your car isn’t roadworthy when you sell it or as you’ve described it, you could end up in trouble, even with the infamous ‘buyer beware’ mantra that is usually associated when buying a car privately.
To ensure you avoid any trouble, you should be open and honest when it comes to describing your car and any problems it currently has.
Make this easier for yourself by making sure you fix any minor problems the car has when you’re trying to sell it. You can, of course, get an MoT on the car before selling it – this will help make your car more attractive to potential buyers but of course comes with additional costs.
If you’re confident that your car is in decent shape, without any major work needed, you can always increase your chances of making a sale by simply giving it a good clean, inside and out.
Most car buyers will pay more attention to the cleanliness of the car than what’s going on under the bonnet so a clean, scratch and dent free outside will do wonders for your car’s chances of being sold.
Once you’ve got your car ready for sale inside and out, you need to start thinking about how much you want for your old car.
Now the number you have in your head and the amount your old car is actually worth is probably further apart than you’d probably hoped, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get a fair price.
Do some research to find out what price similar makes and models are being sold for. This will likely vary depending on the age and condition of the car, but you should get a rough idea of what you can expect to get.
You can expect that any potential buyers will try to haggle with you, so you should think of the lowest possible price you’d be willing to sell for, as well as your asking price.
You’ve got your car and you know what you want to get for it, now it’s time to start advertising.
Thanks to the internet and social media it’s now easier than ever to get your car seen by thousands of potential buyers. You can of course still opt to use an online sales site like Auto Trader or Gumtree but this can come with costs depending on your advert.
If you don’t want to pay for any online advertising, try the Facebook Marketplace, various local buy/sell Facebook groups or even dedicated car club or enthusiasts pages. You can also try searching for specific hashtags or accounts on Twitter.
If you’re more traditional and prefer to advertise offline, you can try local newsagents or newspaper listings, but this will come with a small cost. You can also stick for sale signs in your car with a contact number so buyers can see it while you’re driving around or while it’s parked up.
Obviously, you should tell your friends, family or colleagues that you’re selling your car – you never know, someone you know may be looking to buy.
When it comes to writing your car listing or advert, you want to be as honest as possible while at the same time selling your car in the best possible way.
Only include relevant information that you think will help sell it and be sure to highlight any special features your car has so you can set it apart from others on the market.
You’ll probably be working with a limited space or character limit so here’s the most important information you should include first:
Be sure to also mention the car’s most recent MoT date – especially if you’ve had it done specifically for the sale.
Next, it’s time to move on to the photos. This is an incredibly important part of the advert as it gives your potential buyers that first glimpse of your car and hopefully attract them straight away.
Make sure that the photos are well-lit, so it doesn’t look like you’re trying to hide anything, and you can show off that newly-cleaned sheen.
Include multiple shots of the cars from various angles, include images of the boot, under the bonnet and the interior.
If there are major dents or scratches that are so prominent that you had to mention them in your advert, be sure to include a close-up picture of it, that way buyers will know what to expect and will save you having to waste your or the buyers time.
Now you’ve got your advert sorted and placed in various places, it’s time to preparing for any viewings you have to do…
You’ll probably want to have the viewing at your house, you’ll be more comfortable there and it saves you having to drive your old car around every time someone wants to come and see it.
If, however, you are uncomfortable with having strangers coming to your home you should arrange to meet in a neutral location like a supermarket car park.
If you are meeting away from your home, be sure to tell someone where you are going and also have a lift home arranged just in case all goes well.
Wherever you’re having the viewing, give the buyer some time alone with the car before you start the engine and take it for a spin. People don’t tend to like pushy or overbearing salesmen, so just be relaxed and ready to answer any questions about the car.
Once they’re happy with what they’ve seen and assuming they’re happy to continue with the viewing, start up the engine, let them check under the bonnet and offer to let them take it for a test drive.
A test drive is usually pretty simple and straightforward, take 20-30 mins to let the buyer try out the car, get a feel for it and practice on a variety of different road types.
When trying to sell your car privately though, it’s not always so easy. As you’ll be using public roads on the test drive, you need to make sure that the buyer is insured to drive your car. Without the correct insurance, you and the person driving your car could face a range of fines and penalties.
If they do already have insurance, it’s unlikely that the buyer will want to adjust their existing insurance to cover a car they may or may not buy, and unless their annual insurance allows them to drive other cars (something that’s not as widely available now) then they’ll need another insurance option.
Temporary car insurance from Tempcover.com is ideal for test drives when you’re selling your car. It’s fast flexible, and affordable short term cover that lasts from 1-12 hours or 1-28 days depending on your needs.
For test drives, temporary insurance can allow the buyer to be insured to drive your car without impacting on any existing insurance policies you or they have. Short term cover will also protect your No Claims Discount should there be an accident on the test drive.
You can get the duration you need without having to pay for more cover than you want. You can get a quote at any time and it takes just a couple of minutes.
Cover is available instantly on mobile, tablet and desktop, so wherever you are, you can quickly arrange cover for your test drive.
Once the policy has expired that’s it, you’re not tied into anything and you can get a policy for each test drive you do.
When you’ve completed the test drive, and assuming all goes well, it’s time to get down to business.
If they’re happy with the car and you’re happy with them, you should now start discussing the price. While you have given them an idea of the price you want for the car, they will probably try and haggle with you to get a better price.
Remember the lowest possible price you thought about earlier and don’t go below it. You can always haggle back and hopefully between the two of you, you can come to a price that works for you both.
If you can’t agree on a fair price, try and end on friendly terms and allow them to walk away. They may come back in a day or two with the price you’re after.
When you’ve agreed on the price, you can complete the sale.
The ideal payment method is obviously cash, but make sure you’ve counted all the notes multiple times and that they all look legit.
They could also do a bank transfer which is incredibly quick and easy nowadays with online banking.
Avoid any unusual payment methods they suggest as this is usually a sign of a scam. Whichever way you agree to get paid, make sure the right amount of cash is in your hand or money has cleared and is in your bank before handing over the keys.
Try and have all the paperwork ready to go before they arrive, this will save time now and avoid that awkward wait while you run around gathering documents.
First and foremost, you’ll need to write two copies of a receipt. It should include the date, price, registration number, make and model, and both yours and your buyer’s names and addresses.
Make sure that the receipt clearly shows that the car is ‘sold as seen, tried and approved without guarantee’. While this won’t stop the buyer returning the car if you’ve mis-sold it or wrongly described it, it will cover you against the possibility that the car may be unroadworthy in some respect either.
The final step is to notify the DVLA that you no longer own the vehicle. You can do this quickly and easily online. You’ll get any outstanding vehicle tax back and then you’re all done.
We hope you found this guide to selling your car privately useful and enjoy spending the profits!