Buying your car was easy – selling it is a different matter entirely! It’s not that hard, though – most of the things you need to consider are the same things you thought of when you bought it, after all.
- Direct sales offer a fixed price up front, once agreed, there’s usually no further stress
- Trade-ins are straightforward, often good value against new, poor value against used
- Private sales have a generally small element of risk, but need patience for the best deal
Which route is best largely depends on why you are selling your car. If you’re buying a new one privately, it may be quicker to use a car buying website such as Motorway or We Buy Any Car rather than having to tax and insure two cars and deal with the process of test-drives and curious buyers. It’s worth noting that of the two, Motorway delivers a range of offers from different buyers and clearly shows how likely you are to get that full offer on average; it’s the most transparent of the two services.
Likewise, if you’re buying from a dealer, they will often take your car as a trade in; before agreeing a deal get a car valuation from Parkers.co.uk, and look at the Completed/Sold listings on eBay as well. This will give you a realistic expectation of what the dealer will offer and what you might get selling privately.
Always remember to compare the best offer for cash or finance before a trade-in is mentioned so you can get the true value of what you’re being offered. New cars often come with incentives for trade-ins such as scrappage schemes; these may genuinely be the best deal overall for an older, worn-out car.
Selling privately offers the best deal? Here’s how do to it
No matter how you are selling your car, make sure you have the V5C logbook; this is needed to register a change of keeper and though it isn’t a legal document for ownership, it does contain information that helps a buyer confirm the car you are selling is genuine. You need it to tell the DVLA you no longer own the car, too – otherwise you would be pursued for driving offences and tax involving the car after you’ve sold it.
This is also a good time to check your service history – you’ll want to tell car buying sites or potential buyers about it. Also check the condition of the bodywork and interior, note any imperfections, and measure the tyre tread depth too.
If your car is currently on finance, get a settlement figure. You may find you owe more than your car is worth; a dealer can absorb that into a new finance offer and car buying services will pay the finance firm directly, but you need to pay off any finance secured on the car before (or at the moment of) transferring ownership otherwise.
Choose where you want to advertise it. Gumtree and eBay are popular choices with powerful searches, but they cost money – up to £60 for an eBay auction. Facebook is free, but visibility of your advert is very much luck of the draw and it links your social media presence to your advert, which you may not be comfortable with.
If you live somewhere busy, there’s also no harm in printing out a sign and putting it in the window, but if the car is parked on the public highway it must have a current MOT, tax and insurance.
For your online adverts, take pictures of the front three quarters and rear three quarters from both sides. Don’t obscure the number plate; it will spare you a lot of questions from buyers who can use it to look at the MOT history.
You can have up to twelve images on most listings, so use the remaining eight to show the interior, boot space, engine, wheels, radio and driver’s seat. If it’s an older car or a classic, it’s worth getting on the ground and taking a picture of the sills or underneath to show how little rust it has (or how much, if it’s a project). Don’t worry if you take too many – you can always send the extras to interested buyers if they ask.
If your car is less than eight years old, it’s worth spending some time cleaning and polishing it, making sure the wheels are presentable, and the interior looking fresh. Check all the lights work and if the numberplates are dirty and stained, it only costs £20 or so for a new set that will make the car look considerably smarter. For cars over 25 years old, getting all the history and looking at sites like Classic Cars for Sale may get you a better price.
Once a deal is agreed, only release the car on cleared funds such as a bank transfer, and either post your completed V5C with the new keeper’s detailed filled out and signed (giving them the green slip) or go online and transfer ownership with the reference number.
Photographs courtesy of motorverso.com