Tips for selling your car privately

  • If your car is still on finance, DO check what the settlement figure is
  • Use our online valuation tool to find out how much your vehicle’s worth
  • Don’t rush into a sale, unless you need the money in a hurry
  • Describe your car fully and upload plenty of photos – be honest
  • Check the potential buyers insurance before allowing them to test drive your car
  • Make sure you’re in the passenger seat before handing over the keys for a test drive
  • Make sure the funds have cleared or you have cash, before you handover your car
For sale sign in car

How do I sell my car privately?

With so many online portals it’s never been easier to sell your vehicle privately and done properly, there’s every chance that it’ll be a quick, easy and fairly painless process. DO it wrong and it can be expensive, frustrating and potentially illegal….here are the do’s and don’ts of and how to sell your car privately.

There are several steps to go through to make sure that you show your car in the best possible light and that you put it in front of as many people, who are in the market to buy, as possible, but even before you get to that stage there’s one absolute and fundamental box you have to tick…

Is the car yours to sell?

Make sure it’s legal to sell

If you purchased the car on a finance deal, which is yet to be completed, then legally the car belongs to the lender and you must tell them if you want to sell it. In all likelihood you will have to pay the remainder owed, known as the ‘settlement figure’ before they’ll let you go ahead and sell it.

That said, don’t worry; if you can’t pay off the lump sum without selling your car, you can sell to a dealership or to one of the online car buying sites, they’ll pay off your ‘settlement figure’ for you and knock it off what they pay you for your car.

How do I know how much it’s worth?

Before you go any further, you’ll want an idea of how much your vehicle is worth and thanks to the internet it couldn’t be easier. You can use this online valuation tool or go to a number of highly reputable websites which will give you a valuation just by typing in your registration. Your registration pulls up the make and model of your car; you may then be asked to answer any questions on mileage, service history and general condition.

It really is that easy.

Try our Free Vehicle Valuation Check

Do you need to sell it in a hurry?

Don’t expect the highest price, but several online companies such as are very good at taking a car off your hands and transferring the money into your bank account as fast as possible or you could pop into your local dealership. This is certainly one of the easiest ways to convert your car into money quickly and safely. That said if you’re not in a hurry, then it’s worth trying to sell privately first.

Piggy bank with money next to it
car keys

Give people a reason to buy

There’s an old saying; ‘if you want to sell a balloon, you first have to blow it up’. This is so true and in the context of selling your car it means giving potential buyers as much information as possible, through photos and words.

Assuming you advertise online, the more photos the better. Show the car from different angles, front, side and back, do close ups of the wheels and perhaps even under the bonnet and show them the interior – in short, show them the car is straight and undamaged.

When you come to describe it, say if it has a service history or if work has been done recently (new tyres, cambelts, battery etc) and include any of its stand out features. For this, concentrate on comfort (air conditioning, for example), connectivity (sat nav, Bluetooth, MirrorLink) and safety such as AEB (automatic emergency braking), Isofix child seat fasteners or parking sensors.

Honesty – you do not have to advertise faults, but you cannot misrepresent the car, saying it is something which it is not. If your advert says it has a full service history you had better have the paperwork to back that up, because if the clutch or something else fails soon after purchase, through wear and tear, the buyer will have every right to compensation or even their money back. You also cannot advertise a car as roadworthy if it is not.

With some seven million used cars sold and bought each year the market is crowded and competitive and if your advert is not appealing or is incomplete your potential buyer will simply move onto the next one.

Giving a test drive

Common sense says that you should take some basic precautions before dealing with a total stranger. If you’re letting them test drive the car DO NOT hand over the ignition keys before you are firmly sat in the passenger seat…

Insurance. Make sure their policy covers them for driving another car. It should be under the Third Party terms, but ask them to show it to you before the test drive. Better to be safe than sorry.

Make sure you get paid

If you are happy with the deal and agree on price, cash in hand is one way, but if it involves a money transfer the safest way is to make sure the funds have been cleared by your bank before handing over the car and keys.

A cheque is OK so long as it’s paid in, and cleared, before you wave them off.

Giving a receipt

This will not affect the buyer’s legal rights, but it does provide both parties with some proof of what is being bought – the car, mileage, registration etc – and for how much. Dated and signed by both parties it is evidence of an agreed sale/purchase.

You can easily download and print a form for this from the AA’s website by clicking on this link:

DVLA logbook

The job is never finished until the paperwork is done

To inform the authorities that ownership of the car has changed hands you must let the DVLA know. The fastest way is online at its (excellent) website, but you should fill in the slip at the bottom of the V5 (logbook) form, where it says `new keeper’s details’, and give it to the buyer. Don’t give the whole document because you’ll need the 11-digit reference number on the V5 to tell the DVLA.

It’s fairly obvious and simple, but if the DVLA doesn’t know the car has a new owner, any future traffic fine they get will be landing on your doormat! You’ll also get a refund on any full months of road tax left.

Tell your insurer and/or warranty provider

Your insurer should send a refund for the balance of the policy – minus any admin fee – and the same applies to a warranty you may have paid for.



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