Car selling tips

Theres lots to think about when you are selling cars and sometimes you just need so guidance to get your car sold. Selling your car can be surprisingly time-consuming and emotionally challenging sometimes, especially if you’ve never done it before. At times it may feel like an invasion of privacy because strangers will come to your home, poke around and criticise your car then to top it all off, they will offer you less money than you think its worth.

With no experience and a sometimes complex transaction on your hands, it’s easy for first-time car sellers to make lots of mistakes. However, with a little know-how you can avoid many of the pitfalls. Read on to find out how to sell your car while getting the highest possible price within a reasonable time frame without getting caught out or stung.

1. Price your car realistically

You need to price your car realistically – particularly if you want a quick sale. You can do this by checking the prices of similar cars in popular classified ad magazines and online, or by using a valuation service. We have written a detailed article on the subject – How to value a car you plan to sell.

​2. Write a great advert

You need to write a great description of the car detailing the options, colour and any interesting desirable features. You should alway be 100% honest when advertising a car. Giving a true description of the car saves you and the potential purchaser time and money.

Make sure to include the following facts in order:

  • Year of registration & registration plate info
  • List of equipment and special features
  • Approximate mileage
  • Full service history if it has it
  • Number of owners if low
  • Price
  • Contact details

​You can find a more detailed guide to writing a perfect advert – How to create an effective car advert.​

3. Clean your car before you start marketing it

Prepping the car for sale is really important, if done correctly it gives you the edge over your competition, adds value and make the sales process easier. Even if you’re going to sell your car for under a thousand. Spending time cleaning your car can add thousands to the cars value. You could hire a professional, but washing your car yourself will be much cheaper. We have written a simple step by step guide to car valeting here – Car valeting a step by step guide. And you can find the equipment and products you need to clean a car professionally here – essential car valeting equipment.

4. Take great photos of your car

The internet is a very visual experience so great photos are the best way to stand out to buyers. It’s best to take as many as possible, including all the relevant service history and documentation. You can take great photos with a smartphone. We have written a complete guide on how to photograph a car with a smartphone.

5. Market your car in the right place

Picking the best place to advertise your car is important. You can choose from local paper classified ads, eBay, Craigslist, Autotrader or Facebook. For most sellers Facebook is the best option for sell a car and It beats classified websites, paper ads and all other forms of social media.

The real beauty of Facebook has made managing, posting and responding to your adverts super simple and efficient. Facebook allows you to manage your adverts across multiple groups all in one place. Without the need to juggle phone calls or email enquires form multiple websites. Once it’s sold you just mark it as so and it’s removed from the listing, anyone who has enquired receives a notification telling them its now a sold item.

We explore all the options in our article – ​​How to advertise and market a car.

6. Get a new MOT

If you are in the UK then getting a new MOT for your car will give a potential buyer a lot more confidence in your car, particularly if there’s less than three months on the current one.

7. Repair minor paintwork damage or simple mechanical faults

Fixing general problems with the car will make it easier to sell. So make sure all the mechanicals are doing what they should and replacing any worn out parts. Making sure any engine lights are off and that the air-conditioning is cold.

8. Have the cars documents ready and in one place

Have all documents and history to hand including MOT certificates, service records, receipts and registration certificate or logbook. A fully stamped dealer service record adds value if you’ve got one.

9. Settle any outstanding finance

You can’t sell something you don’t own. If you have an outstanding hire purchase loan on your car, you will need settle any outstanding finance on the car before you sell it or you will be breaking the law. If you can’t afford to settle it before the sale let your finance company know you are selling and settle your outstanding account once the car is sold.

10. Always leave a little haggle room

Everyone wants a deal, so it’s important that you leave a little room for movement in the price. Just don’t add too much and overprice the car.

11. Don’t tell any lies or make and untrue claims

Don’t make false or reckless claims about your car. Describe the car as accurately as possible and never lie to a potential buyer. State the car’s condition clearly in adverts and on the receipt. Especially if it’s being sold for spares only, or requires substantial repair work.

12. Test drive tips

Take the potential buyer’s contact details when arranging for them to come and view/test drive the car. Including their full name, address and phone number and ask the buyer to show you their driving licence if they’re expecting to test drive the car. It’s important to check that the buyer is insured to test drive the car. Your own insurance may cover you but it’s important that any test driver has insurance cover.

You should always accompany prospective buyers on a test drive and if you change seats part way through, take the keys with you and hand them over when you get back in the car. If you are worried about taking viewings or going on a test drive ask a friend or relative to accompany you while the buyer is viewing the car and on the test drive.

13. The car sales process

It will be much easier to sell you car if you follow the basic tips below;

  • 1. Always have the car cleaned before demoing it.
  • 2. Always make sure the car is in good mechanical condition, and all the pressures and levels are correct. 
  • 3. Always make sure you have all the relevant paperwork and service history ready for inspection.
  • 4. Buyers will almost always want to haggle so its always best to have your lowest price in mind and stick to it.
  • 5. Never leave the buyer alone with the car keys.

If you want to know more or want to learn how to handle a test drive find my more detailed guide ​​how to sell a car in five simple steps.

14. Take a deposit on a car

A deposit should only be taken once a contract/invoice is signed and the buyer is one hundred percent certain they want to go ahead and buy a car. As once signed by both parties the contract is legally binding and the deposit will be none refundable, the contract can then only be broken if both parties agree to terminate the agreement. If you want to learn more check out our article on the do’s and don’ts of taking a deposit on a car.

15. How should you take payment when selling a car

Getting payed via bank transfer or debit card directly to your bank account at the time of the handover is the safest way to make payment for a car. Alternatively you can take cash at the same point.

16. What paperwork do you need to fill out when you’ve sold a car?

Once you’ve sold your car its important to put the deal down in writing and include the following details:

  • 1.  The date
  • 2.  Price
  • 3.  Make and model
  • 4. Registration number
  • 5. Vin number
  • 6. The names and addresses of the buyer and seller

Make two copies – one for you and one for the buyer – and make sure all parties sign both receipts!

If you are based in the UK we have covered everything you need to do and more in our article ​How to transfer ownership of a car in the UK.