Sell Your car

This is the definitive guide to selling your car in the UK.

No matter how good your car has been over the years, sooner or later, it will be time to sell it so that you can get a better, more modern option. 

Selling a car isn’t necessarily hard; it just takes effort and knowledge to ensure you sell your vehicle correctly. There are many options about how you sell your car, and what you choose to do can affect the experience. 

If you’ve never sold a car before, you’ll likely have many questions about what you should do, such as where to go and what to do to prepare your vehicle. Here’s a complete Car Adviser guide to help you better understand the process of selling your car and hopefully allow you to get the most money for your vehicle.

In this guide
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How Do You Sell A Car?

The car-selling process will differ depending on where you decide to sell it. That said, selling your will still follow a similar framework, whether you’re selling privately, online, or with a dealer. A typical car-selling process will look like this, with a few variations depending on where you choose to sell your car. 

Step 1: Valuation 

No matter what route you take to sell your car, one of the first things you want to do is get an accurate valuation of your vehicle. Doing this lets you figure out how much to expect for your car, which can help you decide the best asking price for your vehicle. 

You can value your car in multiple ways, including using online tools or seeing how much similar cars are selling for.

Step 2: Preparing

Once you’ve figured out how much your car is worth and decided on how much you want to sell it for, you need to prepare both the vehicle and yourself for the sale. This includes ensuring that the car is up to date with all its MOTs and servicing and is road legal. 

Spend time cleaning and repairing the car, replacing worn-out parts while giving the interior some attention. Ensure that the vehicle is clear of clutter and has the appearance of a brand-new car. This will help you get a better price and ensure suitable interest for the vehicle.

Step 3: Listing

If you’re selling your car online at a marketplace, you will need to create an online listing for the vehicle. This is where you write details about the car and attach images and information about the vehicle so that buyers can get a good indication of what the car is like. 

When writing a listing, include critical information like the car’s current mileage, age, service history, and more. If there are any issues or blemishes on the car, mention them. This is for transparency and makes the handover and negotiating process more straightforward. 

Step 4: Negotiating

Once you’ve listed your car or taken it to a local dealership to sell to them, you’ll soon start getting offers. Mostly, these offers are flexible, meaning you can negotiate and haggle for a better price. That said, be aware that the buyer may try to do the same. 

Negotiation and haggling are a huge part of selling a car, so make sure that you’re prepared for it. Stick firm to what you want for the car, and come backed up with facts and information about the vehicle to prove that it’s worth what you’re asking. 

Be aware that some places where you can sell your car do not permit haggling, such as various car-buying websites like We Buy Any Car.

Step 5: Handover

Once you’ve negotiated a price with a potential buyer, you’ll need to arrange a handover. This can be where the buyer comes to you to collect the car, or they may demand that you drop it off, especially if they’re a dealership. At the handover, your vehicle will go through a final inspection to ensure everything is in order. 

At the handover, you’ll exchange receipts, the V5C logbook, and then the money for the vehicle. When selling a car face-to-face, it’s always best to favour cash, as it means you have the funds for the car before it’s taken from you. You can use a bank transfer if you trust the buyer, but it increases the risk of getting scammed. 

After you’ve sold the car, you’ll need to inform the DVLA that ownership has changed. Once you’ve done this, you’ve officially sold your vehicle. 

What is Part-Exchange?

part-exchange-car-adviser

Before going through the often arduous and effort-laden process of trying to sell your car, you should consider whether part-exchanging your car is the best option. 

If you’re selling your car to buy a new one, getting a part exchange can help streamline this process and help you get your hands on a new vehicle quickly.

When you part-exchange your car, instead of getting the cash value of that vehicle given to you, the money will instead be taken off the value of your new car. 

So, as an example, if you part exchange your current car worth £3,000 to buy a car worth £10,000, that £3,000 will go towards the cost of that new vehicle, meaning that you’ll only pay £7,000. 

Most dealerships and online marketplaces will offer part exchanges, making it a good option as you’ll likely have many choices about what vehicle you want to replace your current one. The only slight issue is that you must figure out what car you want to buy when completing a part exchange.

When getting a part exchange, be aware that the discount you’re offered will be based on the dealer’s valuation of your car, so the price you’ll be offered will differ drastically between dealers. If you feel your price is too low, feel free to haggle and negotiate a better price, there’s no harm in asking. 

The part-exchange value of your car is worked out based on multiple factors, such as the car’s: 

  • Make and model 
  • Colour 
  • Service and MOT history 
  • Current mileage 
  • Damages 
  • Extras and alterations

All this information is used to compare the car against its current market value; however, as you’re part exchanging, you may be offered a slightly lower price than if you were to sell the car outright. 

Once you part-exchange your car, one of three things can happen to it. If it’s in good condition and matches the rest of the dealer’s stock, they’ll put it back on for sale at their dealership. If it needs to be in better condition, has high mileage, or just doesn’t fit in with the rest of their stock, then the dealer may put it up for auction so that they can sell it quickly. 

Finally, if the car is in a terminal state, it will likely be scraped. If the dealer intends to scrap your car, you’ll probably get a value lower than £200.

The best aspect of part-exchanging is that it adds a bit of convenience. Instead of going through the effort of valuing, listing, and advertising your car for sale, you can go to where you want to buy your new vehicle and part-exchange. 

The speed of part exchange also means that you don’t have to wait around to sell your car to get a new one. 

The only issue with part exchange is that you’ll likely get less for the car than if you sold it outright. If you’re selling your vehicle to get the most money you can from it, then it may be best to play the long game and sell your car as usual.

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Where Can You Sell Your Car?

You can sell your car in multiple places, meaning that you have many options about how you want to navigate the process. Of course, how you sell your car can impact the amount of money you’re able to receive, the time it takes to sell the vehicle, and the hassle involved. 

To determine where’s best place for you to sell your car, here’s a quick overview of some of the most popular places you can do so.

Online Marketplaces 

Selling your car online has gotten extremely popular in recent years. The advantage of using an online marketplace is that you’re not limited to buyers in your local area, as you can find buyers from around the UK as long as they’re willing to travel to view the car. 

This greater scope can make getting your car seen and building interest easier, aiding a quicker sale. 

Some popular places people buy and sell cars online are Facebook Marketplace, eBay Motors, and Gumtree. All of these places demand that you take the time to create a listing where you profile your car, so you must describe your vehicle well, picture it properly, and list it for a reasonable price. 

These online marketplace uses many features to ensure security and safety; however, selling on a digital marketplace still runs the risk of you getting timewasters, lowball offers, and even unsavoury characters. Most people on these websites seek a good deal, so you may not get the best price on these platforms.

Privately 

Selling your car privately is undoubtedly the most effort-inducing method to sell a car; however, it can also be one of the most financially rewarding.

As a private seller, you’ll advertise the car and showcase your vehicle to each prospectus buyer yourself. This means that the time it takes to garner interest and show the vehicle off could take a while, which may not suit those who want to sell the car quickly. 

That said, because you’re selling to an individual who will be using the car, you can get a pretty good price, as they’re not looking to sell the vehicle for a profit. You’re also in more control about who you sell it to, making this a great choice if you’re not rushing to sell your vehicle.

Dealerships 

Selling your car to a dealership is a popular, although an old-fashioned option that you can use. When selling to a dealership, you’ll take your vehicle to one of their showrooms for the owner or a member of staff to review the car and give you an offer if they’re interested. 

When selling to a dealership, you can trust that the buyer is reputable and that the process will be legitimate. That said, dealers have a great deal of car buying and selling experience, so you may find getting an offer from them to be intimidating, especially if they haggle and negotiate with you. 

What’s good about selling to a local dealership is that you can part-exchange your vehicle for a replacement, making getting a new car easier after selling your old one. 

Using a dealership is quicker than selling privately, as you don’t have to meet prospectus buyers and prepare the car for each viewing. The downside is that most dealerships will be looking to sell the car, so the offers may be a bit lower so they can profit from it.

Car Buying Companies

An option that has exploded in popularity over the last decade is selling your car to a car-buying company. These companies tend to offer a quick sale with minimal hassle, which makes it ideal for those who need to sell their car fast.

ExchangeMyCar is one such company that will offer you a no-obligation quote to sell your car, regardless of its make, model, age or condition.

To get started, you’ll just need to provide your vehicle’s reg number and mileage, and you’ll be given an instant offer.

You can then book an appointment for the car to be collected, and you’ll receive payment directly into your bank account. The process is quick and easy, making it a great option for those looking for convenience. 

The advantages of using a car-buying company are that it’s fast, easy and convenient. You won’t have to deal with haggling or negotiating, and you’ll have the money in your account quickly.

Auctions

Although car dealerships primarily use auctions to shift cars that they cannot sell privately, auctions can also be used by private sellers who want to sell their cars quickly. When selling your car at auction, you’ll take it to an auction house for potential buyers to bid on it. 

The advantage of selling your car at auction is that it can be a quick way to sell it, and the risk of encountering timewasters is minimal. The auction house also often does the legwork, making things less hassle for you. 

The flip side is that your car is not guaranteed to sell, which can make going to an auction a pointless exercise. As well as that, you’ll need to pay fees to sell at auction, which can eat into any profit you get for your car. Plus, the prices you can get for your car can be super unreliable and varied, and you could find yourself in a situation where someone has paid way over the odds for someone else car but gets yours at a bargain. 

If you have a super rare or valuable car that could interest collectors, then selling on auction may be the best choice, but it may be too volatile to trust for regular used cars.

When Is The Best Time To Sell A Car?

Once you buy a car, its value will depreciate over the years. In fact, a new car’s value will drop around 33% the instant it’s purchased and becomes a used car. After three years, a vehicle will typically be worth less than half of what it was brand new. If you’re trying to get the best deal out of your vehicle, selling it early before it gets too old is best. 

However, this only really works if you have a modern car. Once a car reaches around five to ten years old, its value will typically flat out and drop much slower relative to its mileage and condition. 

This means that if you’re thinking about selling your car, you may need to think less about the car’s age and more about when you list the vehicle for sale.

Specific car models’ value rises and falls slightly throughout the year because of multiple factors. This means you could get a better deal if you time things right and sell your car at its optimal window. 

The issue is that knowing the right time can be challenging, as it’s different for each vehicle. For example, the weather and seasons can influence certain vehicles’ demand and asking price.

During the summer, cars like convertibles and coupes increase in demand as people want vehicles to enjoy the weather. On the contrary, the winter sees a greater demand for SUVs and 4x4s, as these cars are much better suited to bad weather. 

To sell at the right time, think about your car and what season it suits best. Selling it at around this time could help you get a few extra pounds.

When selling your car, there are also certain months that you should avoid, especially if you’re listing a used car. Each year, during March and September, new registration plates are launched.

This sees an increase in demand for newer cars, meaning that the second-hand market get’s quieter. As a result, you may struggle to find a buyer and be left to accept a deal that’s less than what your car is worth.

Of course, there may also be reasons why selling your car immediately is the best choice for you, regardless of the time of year. For example, the car may be too expensive for you to run, or you may find that the vehicle isn’t practical for your needs. In that case, selling your car immediately may be the best option. 

How Do You Prepare A Car For A Sale?

When selling your car, there are a few things that you need to do for it to sell in the first place. If you’re looking to get the best price possible for your car, then ensuring that you have all the correct paperwork and that you’ve given the car a good clean will help you fetch an excellent price. 

To clean a car for sale, you’ll be best served going beyond the standard carwash clean. To give your car a fresh and like-new shine, make sure to use professional products that the garages use. 

Pay close attention to the bodywork, and see if you can buff out any scratches or smudges, as removing them will help you get a better price. Also, do what you can to properly clean the wheels and give the interior enough attention.

Make sure to remove clutter, vacuum the seats and upholstery, and polish the dashboards so that it gets an excellent finish. For more information on cleaning your car before selling it, check out our car cleaning guide.

As well as ensuring that your car is clean, a good way to prepare your vehicle for sale is to check that everything is working well and maintained to a good level. Be sure to top up on the engine oil, screenwash, and coolant, as these are things that a buyer is likely going to check.

Check to see that all your electronics are working and that your dashboard has no warning lights. This is because a warning light could mean that buyers offer you a much lower price, as they’re worried that the car may be close to breaking down. 

It can also be good to give your car a final service, as this will ensure that there are no lingering issues, providing potential buyers peace of mind. Be sure to have proof of this service and any other past servicing that the car has had in the past. 

Once you’ve cleaned your car and ensured that you made any fixes or refurbishments, you’ll need to consider all of the documents you need to gather. 

Documents you need

When selling your car, regardless of how or where you’re selling it to, you need to first gather all required documentation so the sale can be properly processed. Having all the needed documentation can prevent delays and stop the deal from falling through. If you’re considering selling your car, ensure you have all of the following, as you may run into issues. 

  • V5C Logbook

The V5C logbook is the most crucial document you need when selling your car. This is because this proves who the legal owner of the vehicle is. If you don’t have the logbook, buyers may start to suspect that you’re not the car’s rightful owner. 

Once your car is sold, you must give the new owner a ‘green new keeper’ slip once you’ve changed the personal details on the logbook. This is done by informing the DVLA, which you can do online or by posting a section of the V5C to the DVLA.

  • Service History

Although optional, you’ll have trouble selling your car if you don’t have records of a car’s previous service history. This is because these documents prove that the vehicle has been well looked after. Having it could even increase the value of your vehicle. 

The service history also proves the mileage is legitimate, making you a more trustworthy car seller. Whenever you get a service, stamp it into your service book to help you sell a car more quickly.

  • MOT certificates

For a car to be road legal, it needs to have a valid MOT certificate. This means that you need to be at least able to present the most recent MOT certificate the car has gotten and for it to be valid for at least another six months. 

Although you can sell cars without MOT, you’ll find that having one makes your vehicle easier to sell. You can also increase your car’s chances of fetching a reasonable price if you have MOT receipts throughout the car’s lifetime. This is because this proves that the vehicle has always been maintained in good condition. 

If you’re selling a car that’s still under warranty, you’ll need to provide documentation for the new owner. This is because the warranty will be transferred to them once you inform the provider that you have sold the car.

  • Sale receipts

This is only applicable if you’re selling the car privately, but once you’ve made a deal, you must create a sale receipt to give to the buyer. This receipt should have as much information as possible, such as the buyer and seller’s names, addresses, dates, the amount paid, VIN, and more. 

You should also keep a copy of this, as this document proves that the car has been sold.

  • Photo ID

When selling your car, primarily online, some buyers may want to see a copy of your ID just to prove you’re legitimate. This is a security step to ensure the buyer can trust you. This ID can be your driving license or passport.

How Do I Value My Car Before Selling?

One of the most critical aspects of selling a car is the price that you advertise it as. If selling privately or with a dealership, your asking price will dictate how much interest you get. This means that if you want to sell your car effectively, you need to know how much your vehicle is worth so that you’re asking price is in the right ballpark.

The problem is, how do you find out how much your car is worth reliably? 

Typically, you’ll have two options for valuing your car. The first is to use a car valuation tool. There are plenty of these tools online that you can use, and it’s a good idea to use a few of them to get an average price. 

To use a car valuation tool, all you need to do is enter your registration plate and mileage of your car. Doing this should give you a general valuation for your vehicle, assuming it’s in perfect condition.

Some valuation tools will allow you to edit details such as the car’s history and condition to get a more accurate valuation for your specific vehicle. 

The issue with getting a car valuation online is that most of them are offered by websites looking to buy your car. As these valuations also double up as what these websites will offer for your vehicle, the prices will usually be lower than their genuine market value. 

To get a reliable online valuation, use a tool that isn’t affiliated with a car-buying business. Heycar‘s tool is perhaps one of the best, as they don’t offer a service where you can sell your car to them. This valuation tool also gives you a range to see what to expect depending on your car’s condition. 

Your alternative option for valuing your car is to look at how much similar vehicles are being sold for online. By looking at the listings on places like cinch, Cazoo, and more, you’ll get an idea of how much you can ask based on the market. Seeing what everything is selling at can also be helpful to attract more attention to your car, as you have to option to offer a price that undercuts the average to garner more attention. 

The best approach for valuing your car is to use both of these methods at the same time. This way, you get a good deal of information about your vehicle.

You should be able to use the data appropriately to list your car for a reasonable price that hopefully makes the buyer and seller happy. 

What Should I Do To Get The Best Price for My Car?

When selling a car, most people want to get the best price possible. To obtain the highest value for your car, you’re going to have to put in the work and do a few extra things to make the car stand out and look better than all the other similar cars on the market.

Here are some things you can do to improve the resale value of your car.:

Refurbish your alloys 

When trying to haggle and negotiate the price of your car down, one of the first areas of contention will be about the wheels of your car, particularly the alloys. This is cause the majority of vehicles are going to have scuffs on the alloys due to general wear and tear. 

Spending extra money to refurbish your alloys and wheels will help you get the best price possible. You can also go further and get replacement wheels as well. This can be super beneficial if your tyres are visibly worn down, as tyres that need to be replaced soon will put off potential buyers. 

Replace any worn items

The small things about your car can make a massive difference in how buyers value and judge your vehicle. Things like worn car mats or rusty badges can bring the overall appearance of your car down. By spending the few pounds it is to replace these, you can increase the broad appeal of your vehicle and make it a much more high-end option.

Recharge the air con 

Over time, the effectiveness of your air conditioning will drop. This is because the device uses gas to cool the air that is pumped out, and as this gas runs out, the less effective your air con will be. Having your car re-gassed will improve the value of your car, as working air con is a central selling point.

Add window tints 

This is an optional extra, but you may likely attract higher offers if you tint your windows. This is because window tints can give your car a more exciting appearance and also give the drivers more privacy. When tinting your windows, make sure that they still let in the legal amount of light into the car; otherwise, tinting your car can harm your car’s value.

Include Extras 

Another thing you can do to increase the value of your car is to throw in a few extra items with your vehicle. Adding these optional extras will make your car more attractive, as it comes with a few perks, making owning the car a better experience. 

For example, including a spare tyre when selling the car can increase the value dramatically, as the next owner will not have to pay to get a new one if a current tyre fails.

You can also include a few car tools and items, such as a pressure gauge, to add more value to your vehicle. Things like extra keys can also help you increase the asking price for your car. 

Car Selling FAQs

It is possible to sell your car on finance; however, only via a few methods. You're technically not the car's owner when paying off a vehicle on finance. This means you have no right to sell it privately or at auction. 

However, if you sell your car online with a car buying website, such as Cazoo or We Buy Any Car, those companies can settle the finance deal before buying your vehicle. You can only do this if the remaining finance is less than the car's total value.

When you sell your car, you must inform the DVLA that ownership has changed. There are two ways that you can do this, either by filling out a section of the V5C form and mailing it to the DVLA or by registering the change in ownership online.

The time it takes to sell a car will vary a lot depending on how you sell and how desperate you are to push a sale through. 

If selling privately, you may have to wait a long time to find a buyer and complete the handover. This is because attracting buyers to your car can take some time. For most people selling this way, it can be between a few weeks and even months. 

Selling with a dealership is much quicker, as they can buy your car then and there if you accept their offer. It can take longer if you spend some time trying out multiple dealers for the best price, but it is still a quick option. 

If you're desperate to sell your car quickly, you can sell it within 24 hours at a car-buying company like We Buy Any Car. Once you get your instant online valuation, you can hand the car over the same day and complete the sale.

The amount it costs to sell your car will depend on how you sell it and what you do to the car to prepare it for sale. When selling privately, you don't have to spend a penny, although you may be tempted to spend a bit of cash replacing things like worn-out car mats and stuff like that. 

When selling online, you may have to pay a fee to create a listing online. Some may also offer you the chance to boost your listing to reach more people; however, this will cost a fee too. 

When selling at a car buying website, you may have to pay things like admin fees or transaction fees, which fluctuate greatly between platforms. 

When selling your car, you must ensure it has road tax. This enables the vehicle to be legally sold and driven. The issue here is that getting your car taxed is usually done with a single payment for the year. 

Thankfully, once you inform the DVLA that the car has been sold, you'll have your tax refunded for the period that you no longer own the car. It may take a few months to get this refund, but you will only pay what you need when selling your vehicle.