Selling Your Car Guide
Preparing your car before selling it is essential if you want to make sure that you get the best possible price in the shortest amount of time. The first step, of course, is to make sure that you have all the paperwork to hand so that you are ready to sign the car over when the time comes. Dig out the car's log book and your insurance details well before the handover to save yourself time and hassle later.
Similarly, if your car is currently subject to a finance arrangement you will need to pay this off before selling. Until you have paid off your car's finance you are not its legal owner and therefore are not legally entitled to sell it. More details on this at the end of the section and in our more detailed article on selling a car with finance on it.
Once you have gotten all of the necessary paperwork ready it's time to start preparing the car itself. Unless you are selling a very rare or a vintage car then your likely be competing for attention with many other cars of similar make and model. As such, the smallest detail of your car's condition can have a massive impact on your price.
Clean Your Car
Many people, for instance, do not realise the impact that cleanliness can have on a car's sale price. You have to remember that car buyer's aren't fair - they judge things based on first impressions. It doesn't matter what condition your car's engine is in, if it is spattered with mud this could knock a sizeable amount off its sale value. Clean cars have a major psychological impact even the most logic car buyer's fall for, the only possible exception is some dealerships but even so saving them a cleaning job should increase the amount they are willing to pay.
Pay for a decent car cleaning and valet service and make sure that they include detailing and a wax. Adding a shiny finish to your car really affects the way it looks in pictures and therefore the amount that people will be willing to pay. Getting a professional to do this job thoroughly will generally increase the value of a car more than the cost of the job.
Undertake Minor Repairs
Before getting the aforementioned wax, it's worth repairing any scratches or other damage to the car's paintwork. Some scratches will come out with T-Cut or, in some cases, you may need to have some or all of your car repainted. Obviously, it will be up to you to figure out whether or not the cost of this will be met by the increase in your car's sale value after having had it done.
Similarly, small dents can usually be repaired at only a slight expense. Minor mechanical faults should be sorted so that the buyer feels they are getting a working vehicle with no-hassle. You can find out if a repair is worth doing using AutoTrader's valuation service, to read more on this see our article on car valuations. You might also want to read our article on things that reduce a car's value for more tips on getting the best value out of the car before sale.
Get a New MOT
Being able to tell your buyer that the car has just had an MOT helps reassure them that the vehicle they are buying is in good condition. So, if your MOT is about to expire consider getting a new one if it won't last past the sale.
If Your Car is Still on Finance
If your car is still subject to a finance arrangement but you would like to sell it anyway then you will have to settle this arrangement with the finance company before doing so. Call them up and request a settlement amount for the contract, explaining that you would like to sell the car. Most finance companies will allow but may charge a fee for ending the finance early.
This amount will likely be more than many people can pay upfront and so you may need to borrow money and pay it back with the proceeds from the car sale. If you can't borrow the money from family and friends then try using a short-term 0% credit card deal such as these.
Setting Your Price
Having prepared your car and its paperwork for sale, it's time decide on what price you are willing to accept. Valuing used cars is a minefield and can depend on factors as diverse as mileage and where in the country the car is to be sold. As such, you would do well to value your car using a number of the methods described below and base your sales price on a comparison of these. If you are looking for a quick sale it might be best to price your car slightly below the average for one of the same make, model, and condition. If you want the best possible price but don't mind a wait then you may consider going slightly above the average, although remember every month car values decrease.
Online Car Valuation Tools
Glass's Guide - www.glass.co.uk
Glass's is probably the most respected name in the used car business and a very high proportion of used car dealers subscribe to their bi-weekly publication of average used car sales prices. Luckily for us, they allow you to check the current average value of your car's make and model on the second hand market for free on their website. This is one of the most sophisticated car valuation tools of them all, giving a separate average sales value of a car like yours for selling privately, to a dealer, or trading it in. Unfortunately, the free valuation tool does not take into account condition and the premium version (£3.95 a go) only takes into account 'light damage'.
WhatCar - www.whatcar.com
WhatCar is a similar car valuation tool which does allow more options for taking into account wear and tear but bases its valuations on average sales prices that are far less frequently updated. It is useful as a comparison but probably not as a primary basis of your car's value.
AutoTrader publishes its used car advertisement magazine in regional editions, allowing you to take an average sales price for cars in your region. This can be useful for qualifying national estimates and figuring out what people in your area are more likely to pay. Unless you are hoping to sell your car to a national car buying organisation an estimate based on average prices in your region is likely to be more accurate.
They also offer a premium car valuation service using CAP data which is as good as Glass's and also allows you to modify the valuation for damage. There's other car valuation services listed in our article on the topic.
Car Buying Service Valuation
Car buying services are organisations that will buy almost any car for a price that is some way below the average and sell it on, quickly, for a profit. The most well known car buying services in the UK at the moment are probably We Buy Any Car and We Want Any Car.
Where to Sell Your Car
Having decided what price you'd be willing to accept for your car, it's time to decide where to sell it. The main choice you face is between advertising your car for sale privately and selling it directly to a dealer or car buying service. The former takes more time, money, and effort but you stand to get a better price for your car. The latter, vice versa.
If you do choose to advertise your car, be aware that it is like any other form of advertising - you will need to figure out the amount of exposure you get for every pound you spend. In other words, it is important to compare advertisers based on the number of viewers your advertising spend will buy you in order to figure out which of them provides the best value for money. However, it is important to remember that you should always advertise your car for slightly more than the minimum amount you are willing to accept.
AutoTrader's web presence is far larger than its print circulation so if you choose to advertise with them, be sure to go with a package that includes web publication to make sure that you get the best value for money. The best deal for most is currently the â€œWeb special offerâ€ giving you six weeks online for £56.00. If you are not willing to spend this amount, though, there are far cheaper deals available. One of the key things to do to ensure a quick sale at maximum value is to write a good quality advert. Read our article on how to do this here.
eBay is not yet as popular as AutoTrader with used car buyers but could possibly be considered more cost effective in some situations. It is certainly easier to tweak your auction's end date and other features to ensure a very quick sale. The fee structure of eBay motors is complex but the lowest you will ever pay is £30 and the highest £45. Read our step by step guide on how to use eBay to sell your car.
There are several dealers who will offer you a quote online to buy your car. These include WeWantAnyCar and WeBuyAnyCar. The valuations they give you are no obligation, but typically the value you'll get from a sale is much lower than private sales.
Rather than selling your car directly to a dealership, this service allows you to advertise your car to a large number of dealers who then bid on the vehicle auction-style. Not only is this far more time-efficient than taking it round your local dealers but you are likely to achieve a higher price this way.
If you valued your car with the free valuation tool provided by a car valuation service such as Glass's, CAP and Parker's (mentioned above) you will have seen that the average price obtained from a dealer is almost always lower than the average sale price when selling to a private individual. As such, this is perhaps not the best way of selling your car unless all the above options are closed to you or you need a really quick sale. If you're getting another car from the dealer typically you'll get more than selling to them from a trade in (but still less than a private sale).
Car auctions all across the country take place on a regular basis. These can be slightly risky as you never know if you'll have several people interested in your car, but they're a great way of selling your car quickly.
Park it up and wait...
If all the above fails it is likely because your car is a bit of a banger. It's going to be a struggle to sell it and you might want to consider scrapping it. Still, if even the thought of doing so sends shudders through you, you could consider the good old-fashioned method of parking it up on the side of the road with a sign in the window. It is important to remember, though, that only in cases like these is this appropriate.
Private Sale Meet-Up
Assuming you have chosen to advertise your car for sale you will soon be contacted by a potential buyer. They will want to meet up, check everything is in order and possibly test drive the car before haggling over the price, exchanging money and signatures and then parting ways. This is the only point in the process where there is an element of risk and it is important to handle it carefully in order to make sure that you are safe.
Some of the most important safety recommendations include: not letting the buyer going on a test drive alone, not leaving the buyer alone with the car and the keys, bringing and asking to see photographic identification. Before meeting up, make sure that you agree a form of payment and request that the buyer bring along some identification. Read more in our article on safe sales.
Where to Meet
Some buyers will insist on meeting you at the address on the car log book in order to insure that the car has not been stolen. If you are not comfortable with this, however, it should be acceptable to bring along photographic identity and some proof of address.
The absolute safest places to meet are well-lit and surrounded by CCTV cameras. Car parks, in the day time, are generally considered a good option. You should also consider bringing a friend or a partner to help ensure that you are not pressured into handing over the car unless you are comfortable.
What to Do
The buyer will probably want to be allowed to fully inspect the car and perhaps even take it for a test drive with you in the passenger seat before negotiating details of price. This is normal and is a good way of reassuring your buyer that they're not getting a lemon. They may also want to be able to see the Vehicle Identification Number where it is marked into the car's body, so be prepared to point this out on demand - it's a way of checking the car hasn't been stolen.
How to Accept Payment
This is one of the most prominent concerns of people selling cars second hand. To clarify: you should never allow your buyer unsupervised access to the car until money has changed hands. Do not give up your car in the expectation of being paid later.
Hopefully you will have agreed a payment method before meeting up. You should not, in general, agree to accept a personal cheque as a form of payment because it is too easy to write one of these without the funds in the account to back them. If someone commits cheque fraud on you, recovering your car could be difficult leaving you out of pocket.
Cash is the safest solution for you as a seller and most of the dangers associated with it are negated by agreeing to meet up in a safe place. If your buyer wants to be driven to a bank there is absolutely no reason to object.
Second to cash is a banker's draft. This is like a personal cheque except it comes with a guarantee from the bank that the funds exist in the account of the person paying you. However, in the UK, these are now being phased out and, moreover, can sometimes be forged. If your buyer would like to pay you by banker's draft, why not suggest meeting them at their bank to watch them obtaining it? This is an easy way to make absolutely sure that you are not receiving a forged note in payment for your car.
Other methods such as bank transfers are possible but should only be accepted when you can see absolute proof that they have gone through to your account. Meeting at the buyer's bank for them to make the transfer is, again, a good way of ensuring that this is the case.
Before you and your buyer part ways, you will need to do a little bit of paperwork in order to register the transfer of ownership legally. You will need to write your buyer's contact details into section 6 your car's log book (also known as a V5C certificate) as well as getting them to sign the declaration that can be found in section 8.
You will then have to post this log book to the DVLA's central offices. You must also fill in and hand to the buyer a section of the log book called the V5C/2. Alternatively, if you are selling to a trader you will need to fill out and hand over the V5C/3. After you have left, you will need to post the log book to the following address: DVLA, Swansea, SA99 1AL.
The reason this is essential is that before a change of ownership has been officially recorded you can be held criminally responsible for road accidents or other damage that are the fault of the driver of that car. We're got a more extensive article on this topic if you need more info, and don't forget to get a road tax refund at the same time. For more information on this see here.
Finally, before parting ways, be sure to take the road tax disk out of the window so that you can claim a road tax refund on it from the DVLA at a later date. Read our article on road tax refunds to get the step by step info on how to process this.
Then... Either get a lift or public transport home and count your cash! That's the end of the process. You will, at a later date, need to apply for the aforementioned road tax refund and send off the log book but these formalities are now all that is left. Hopefully, using the advice contained in this guide and the articles linked to form it you will have sold your car quickly, for a fair price and, above all, safely.
Content by Robert Prime