A guide to
selling your car
How can I sell my car?
Selling a car is not something we do every day. It may have been a number of years since you last sold a car, maybe you have never sold a car before. Whatever your situation, the prospect can seem a little daunting at first. Should you sell privately, sell to an online car buyer, part exchange?
You are likely to have many questions and so to try to help you decide what is the best route for you, the team at webuyurcar have put together a guide that covers all your different options, as well as tips on how to maximise your profit, along with reminders for what you need to do in preparation for selling a car.
Whether you are in the market for a new car, are looking to dispose of an old car that is no longer being used or are just interested to see what options are available then read on for an in-depth analysis of how to sell a car in the UK.
What we cover in this guide
How to sell a car privately
Car ownership in the UK began way back in 1895, by the end of that year it is believed there were approximately 15 cars in private ownership in the UK. Ever since, cars have been sold privately and today with 33.2 million registered cars on Britain's roads it remains a popular way for people to sell their cars.
Decide upon a realistic price
Your first job is to do some research into current prices for your model. Look in the classified ads, online auctions such as eBay, Facebook marketplace, Autotrader and local car dealerships to get an appreciation for the value of your vehicle. Remember to compare like for like - if your car has high mileage there is no point comparing it against a low mileage version. Condition and service history are also both important factors to consider when valuing your vehicle.
After some research you should have a price at which to advertise your car. Private buyers will almost certainly haggle over the price, so also have a figure in mind that you would be prepared to go down to.
How to prepare your car for sale
When it comes to selling your car, you will be wanting to maximise your profit, by far the best way to do this is to prepare your car so that it is looking its best when prospective buyers come to view it. As the saying goes 'fail to prepare, prepare to fail'. Before advertising your vehicle, you should:
- Have your car cleaned thoroughly inside and out – you can of course do this yourself, but we would recommend investing a few pounds for a professional valet, which will save you a lot of time for minimum outlay.
- If your car has any minor defects or body damage it may prove cost effective to get these repaired before trying to sell, as the better the condition of your vehicle the more chance you have of selling at your target price.
- Consider renewing the MOT, especially if your current MOT has less than 3 months to run. A car with a long MOT is a good indication of a mechanically sound vehicle and so buyers are likely to have more confidence when parting with their cash.
- If you have spare keys for the vehicle, make sure you find them and have them ready to demonstrate that they work – if the spare key has sat in a draw for the last five years, you may need to replace the battery in the fob.
- Check your V5C. This is the vehicle's logbook and proves that you are the current owner. If you have recently changed your name or moved house, make sure that you get the V5C document updated before you try to sell your vehicle.
- Get all other paperwork in order. If you have serviced your car regularly and have the stamps to prove it in the vehicle service book, then this is a great bargaining chip, you can demonstrate that the car has been looked after whilst in your ownership, so make sure you have the vehicle's service book to hand. Any other receipts for work should also be made available to show.
Photograph your car
Once you are happy that your car is looking at its absolute best you need to take some photographs to promote it when you post your adverts.
Taking the right photographs is incredibly important. Prospective buyers want to see a good selection of photos, showing all angles of the car and highlighting any issues such as dents or scratches.
- Think about your surroundings. Why not drive your car to a local beauty spot to take the pictures, it will make the photos look so much more appealing than if they are taken on a busy street with other cars nearby. In fact, we would strongly recommend that you don't include any other vehicles in the photos, so if you are in a car park, try to find a quiet spot with no other cars around.
- Don't take photos if it is raining. If the car is wet, any minor dents or scratches can be hidden by the beads of water. Purchasers are aware of this and would be immediately suspicious if they saw pictures taken on a wet day.
- Take several photos of all sides of the car including close ups of wheels and tyres.
- Inside the car, remember to take photos of the mileage, all control switches and seats – especially the driver's seat so that people can check for signs of wear and tear.
How to advertise your car
You have researched the market, you have prepared your car, so now you need to advertise it for sale. There are a number of ways you can do this:
- The most basic method is a simple poster in the window of the car. In practice this is unlikely to yield many calls, but it doesn't cost anything and it may just be spotted by a genuine buyer.
- Advertise in your local newspaper. There is likely to be a fee for posting. Twenty years or so ago this would have probably been your best option, but now few people read the classified ads in traditional print format and so is likely to have a limited reach.
- You can post an ad in online listing sites such as Autotrader, Gumtree and Facebook marketplace.
- An online auction site such as eBay is another popular option, but there will be a fee to post the advert and commission taken on any sale.
Settle any outstanding finance
If your car has outstanding finance, you cannot legally sell it. Therefore, before advertising it for sale we would recommend that you contact your finance provider and request a settlement figure. This is the amount you will need to pay as a lump sum to settle the finance. Depending on your agreement this may incur early repayment charges.
Once you have paid the outstanding finance the car would be ready to advertise. Remember that any serious buyer should always run a vehicle history check to make sure that there is no finance remaining on a vehicle, so it is important to settle any finance debt ahead of advertising the vehicle.
Prepare for viewings - Expect time-wasters
After a while you will hopefully start to receive enquiries and you will need to arrange for viewings of your vehicle. Be prepared for appointments to fall through. No shows are common, so try not to get too disheartened. 'Tyre kickers' can be the other big bug bear when selling privately. All of this can be very time consuming, but unfortunately is all part of the joys of a private sale. Our top recommendations for a trouble-free viewing:
- Avoid having your car's engine up to temperature. Prospective buyers prefer to see how an engine turns over from a 'cold' start. If the engine is already warm, they may think that you are trying to hide an issue.
- Make sure your radio is switched-off. If your car has a strange knocking sound when idling, trying to hide it below the noise of the radio is not going to work and will only serve to plant misgivings into the mind of your prospective buyer.
- If your car has Bluetooth or an in-built satnav, then be sure to erase any personal information that could be stored in the car's computer. You wouldn't want to sell your car with your friends and families phone numbers and addresses!
Making the sale
Eventually you should hopefully start to see interest from genuine buyers. They will want to inspect the car and take it for a test drive. Before allowing them to drive your car, make sure to ask to see their driving licence and details of their insurance showing that they are covered to drive other people's vehicles. You may also be able to extend your own cover to allow other drivers, a quick call to your insurance company can check this.
It may sound obvious, but you should go on any test drive with the prospective buyer and if you swap seats during the test drive remember to keep hold of the key while you are outside the vehicle. It is not unheard of for thieves to target car sellers and so it is important that you are alert at all times for such a possibility.
Be prepared for some haggling over the price. The buyer will be looking for any issue they can leverage in their favour to offer a lower price, you should already have a price in mind that you are prepared to drop to. Stick to this price and don't allow yourself to be brow-beaten by aggressive buyer tactics.
Finalising the sale and receiving payment
Once you have agreed a price, you will need to take payment for the vehicle. It is important to be fully aware that scammers can target private car sales, so do not accept cheques or bankers drafts as forms of payment as these take time to clear and can be forged. If accepting payment in cash also check for signs of forged notes.
The safest way for payment to be made is by a bank transfer. The buyer can send the money from their banking app to your account in near real time. You will then be able to check your online bank account before handing over the keys. Do not be pressurised into handing over the vehicle until you have confirmation that the money is in your account.
You should also draw up a receipt of sale that includes details of the vehicle – registration number, make and model, the transaction amount, date of sale, name and address of both seller and buyer and a statement that the car is sold as seen and is provided without guarantee. You should both sign and date the receipt and each retain a copy.
Notifying DVLA of the change of ownership
The final thing to do before the buyer can drive away is to update the vehicle logbook (V5C). As the current registered owner, you will need to fill in all the green sections of the document. This includes writing down the new owner's name and address. You both then need to sign and date the declaration. You will hand the new owner section 10 of the document. They will need this to be able to tax the vehicle. You should retain the rest of the logbook and send it to the DVLA. Failure to do this would result in you remaining as the registered keeper and you would remain liable for any fines or offences in the future.
As you can see, selling privately can be a complicated and time-consuming process, but if it is something you want to try, then this guide should help to make the process run as smoothly as possible. Expect the process to potentially take weeks and be prepared for a long list of buyers inspecting your car.
How to sell to an online car buying service
A far quicker and more convenient way to sell a car is by using an online car buying service. This has become an incredibly popular way of selling in recent years simply because it is so much easier than selling privately.
There are many well-known brands that you can choose from. You will have no doubt heard of companies such as We Buy Any Car, Cazoo and Motorway. They all allow you to submit your vehicle registration along with some further information before giving you a pre-inspection price for your vehicle. You then take your vehicle to a remote location for them to inspect it. If you sell to them, you are then left to find your own way back home.
Request an appointment and a member of our bookings team will give you a call to arrange a time that is convenient to you.
We have appointments 7 days a week and unlike many other online car buying services we visit you at your home or workplace. We are even able to offer same day appointments, so your car could be sold within a matter of hours.
Enter your reg to book an appointment with webuyurcar and sell your car today
Does your car have outstanding finance? Don't worry, webuyurcar take care of all that for you by dealing directly with your finance company on your behalf to pay off the remaining debt. We even contact the DVLA to inform them of the change of keeper.
An appointment to sell your car with webuyurcar typically takes less than one hour, and the best part is that unlike other online car buying services we provide instant payment as standard for no additional fee. This means that your money will be paid by bank transfer while our inspector is still with you and they will not leave until you have been able to confirm that the money is in your account.
The result is a fast, hassle-free, easy way to sell your car. You can find a complete guide to selling your car with webuyurcar here.
Selling a car as part exchange
If you are in the market for a new car and intend to buy from either a main or independent dealer and you are wanting to sell your existing vehicle to part fund the new purchase, then part exchanging with the dealer is an option that you can consider.
It is likely that your current car will need to be in reasonably good condition for the dealer to consider it for part exchange and you are unlikely to get top price for the vehicle. Remember that when looking to part exchange the same rules of preparing your car for the sale still apply just as they do when selling privately or to an online car buying company. You will want your car to be looking its best when you show it to the dealer, so a valeting is well worth the investment. Also, make sure you have all the keys and prepare any full or part service history that you have. All this will help you leverage more money for your vehicle.
Be aware that different dealers can approach part exchanges in different ways. If you have offers from several dealers to compare, then the price they offer for your current car in part exchange may differ considerably, and equally the price they are selling the new vehicle at may also differ. One dealer may offer you a good part exchange price but not such a good discount on your new car, whereas another may offer a good discount on your new car but a lower valuation on your old car, so it is important to compare the overall difference in price between the new and old car to get a true appreciation of which dealer is offering the better deal.
Sell a car direct at an auction
Another option is to take your car to a car auction. There are car auctions situated throughout the country so you should be able to find one not too far from you.
The buyers at auctions tend to mostly be independent car dealers, who are working against fine margins and so this can keep the final sale prices low. There would be a fee to submit your car into the auction and the auction house would take a commission on any sale, so be sure to check what the commission is before committing to this option.
There is also no guarantee that your car will sell and so you may pay an entry fee and find yourself still having to drive home with your car.
Remember that if the car does sell, you will need to arrange your own transport back home as the car ownership will be immediately transferred.
Scrap your car
If your car is very old (assuming it is not a classic), has high mileage, is not road-worthy or just has a long list of repairs required, you may find that you struggle to find a buyer. If you find yourself in this situation one option is to look at scrapping the car.
In order that scrapped cars are processed in an environmentally safe manner it is important that you use an authorised scrapyard or recycling centre known as Authorised Treatment Facilities (ATFs).
The scrapyard will issue you with a Certificate of Destruction which the DVLA will require as proof that the vehicle has been scrapped, at which point your liability for the vehicle will end. Do not accept cash as a payment for the scrap value of your vehicle as this is illegal. The scrapyard must pay you by either a bank transfer or a cheque. To make sure that you use an authorised scrapyard you can use the government's 'find an ATF vehicle scrapyard' service where you can type in your postcode to see a list of ATFs near you.
Donate your car to charity
One final option available to you, of which few people are aware, is to donate your car to charity. There are a number of online charities where you can donate your vehicle, GiveACar and CharityCar are just two, but a quick web search will find many companies offering similar services. Depending upon the condition of the car the charity will either sell the vehicle at auction or scrap it. Some of the charities may charge an admin fee, so be sure to read any small print to avoid any surprises.
If you take this route, remember that it is still your responsibility to notify the DVLA either of a change of ownership or that the vehicle has been scrapped. If you are unsure, the charity accepting your vehicle will be more than happy to help you with any questions you may have.
Sell your car the fast, hassle-free way
There are a number of options available to you when selling a car and hopefully this article has helped to answer a lot of your questions. Some of the methods we have discussed may be more suitable than others, depending upon your circumstances, however, for speed, convenience and peace of mind we recommend booking an appointment today with webuyurcar the 5-star home service. We are open 7 days a week and have purchasers situated throughout the country ready to visit you to purchase your car.
If you have any further questions, then you may find an answer in our frequently asked questions section. Alternatively, you can call our friendly team seven days a week, who will be happy to help. Click here for contact details and opening times.