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How to sell a car privately

Are you looking to get a new car in the near future? If you want to get the best price for your current car, selling it privately could be the way to go.

In this guide, we’ll give you plenty of tips and hints on how to sell your car privately without any third parties. 

Find out how much your car is worth

It’s important that you don’t just guess when it comes to valuing your car. If you price it too high, you won’t get any interest and if you price it too low, you could end up with much less than you ought to when it comes to investing in your new set of wheels. AutoTraders free valuation tool is well worth checking out. 

Decide how you want to advertise

There are lots of ways you can advertise your car. Some are free, some will have a cost. 

You could put a ‘For Sale’ sign in your car’s window (while it’s parked up, so it’s not obstructing you when you’re driving), pay for a postcard to be displayed in your local shop, advertise it on eBay, pay for a classified ad in your local paper or use a car-selling website like AutoTrader.  Sharing a few photos and a description on Facebook might work too. 

If you select one way of advertising your car and it doesn’t work, you shouldn’t feel disheartened. The right buyer will come along eventually; you just might need to change your approach. 

Prepare your car

You’ll want to make your car as attractive as possible before you take photos for the advertisement and have viewings. Give it a good clean inside and out, removing any contents that aren’t needed. 

If there are any minor faults or imperfections that can be fixed quickly and cheaply, take care of them. If there is less than three months left on the MOT, get a new one, as this will show potential buyers that the vehicle is in good order. 

Be honest

When advertising your car, make sure you describe it accurately or you could be breaking the law. You must detail and represent the car fairly and accurately to any potential buyer. 

The vehicle must be roadworthy and you must have the right to sell it. If you have finance on the car, you will need to speak to your finance company first, as they may or may not allow you to sell it depending on the type of finance agreement. 

In your advertisement, give as many details as possible. Stating the price should help get rid of some timewasters. Mention the make and model, colour, year of manufacture/number plate, mileage, and condition, along with your phone number/contact details. 

Protect yourself

Not everyone who contacts you may be a potential buyer. Thieves may try to get you to share the car’s VIN number[1] over the phone so that they can create a cloned advert. 

Always take the potential buyer's contact details when arranging a viewing/test drive. You’ll want their name, address and phone number. They shouldn’t have an issue with you requesting this information if they’re genuine. Ring them back on the number they’ve given you to confirm that they have given you the right details.  If the potential buyer doesn’t want to see the car in person or asks for you to drop the car off at a location, be wary. 

Viewings top tips

Don’t let any potential buyers take photos or make copies of your car’s documents. Also, don’t let them get behind the wheel of your car without seeing their driving licence first. 

You must make sure that they are insured to drive your car. If you’re unsure, ring your insurer and check. 

Always go with them on the test drive, you don’t want to risk them driving off with your car. If you drive first and then swap, take the keys out and give them to the potential buyer once you’re in the passenger seat. It’s also good policy to ask a family member or friend to accompany you so you’re not on your own. 

Be prepared for the potential buyer to offer a lower amount than the one you’ve advertised. You may need to haggle to arrive at a price you’re both happy with. 

Give a receipt

When you sell the car, give a ‘sold as seen, tried and approved without guarantee' receipt, and get the buyer to sign and date it. Keep a copy for yourself too. If you’ve sold the car for repairs only, state this on the receipt. You can download a car seller’s contract from the AA website for free. 

The safest way to be paid is either by an online bank transfer or by being handed the cash at your bank (so you can put the money straight into your account.) The buyer could make an immediate bank transfer using the CHAPS system (they will have to pay a fee to their bank to do this). 

Bankers’ drafts are easily forged and, if the buyer insists on paying by cheque, make sure it has cleared before handing over any keys or paperwork. 

You should only hand over the car’s documents once the sale has been completed. You will need to inform the DVLA straight away. You can do this online or by post. Make sure you give the buyer the V5C/2 section before they drive off. 

Selling your car privately can allow you to get the best price for your car but it does require you to do some work to get there. If you don’t have any time to do viewings/test drives or you need to sell the car ASAP, you might want to look at ways of selling via a third party instead.