Tips for selling car header image

14 tips for selling your car in 2024

Want to sell your car like a pro?

No matter how you intend to sell your old motor, there are numerous factors you should consider to ensure the process goes smoothly.

In this updated guide, we’ll share 14 essential tips to help you navigate the challenging world of car selling in 2024. We’ll cover everything from choosing a selling method to setting a realistic price, preparing and advertising your car – and avoiding car buying scams.

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Tip 1: Get a valuation for your car

  • Getting an accurate valuation can help you set a realistic asking price when selling your car.
  • Alternatively, getting a baseline valuation now and revaluating your car in the future can give you a clear picture of how it is depreciating over time.
  • Want to know what your car is worth right now? Try our free car valuation tool.
Illustration of valuation page on webuyanycar

Tip 2: Decide how to sell your car

When deciding on the best way to sell your car, it’s important to consider your priorities and how they align with each selling option:

  • Selling privately

    • Selling your car privately can be a worthwhile option if your aim is to get the highest possible price.
    • However, finding the right buyer can take time - and there is no guarantee that you will. So, this isn’t the best option if you’re after a quick sale.
    • If your car is worn or damaged, you’ll need to decide whether to repair your car or sell it in its current state. Once repaired, your car may be easier to sell, but any repair costs will also eat into your profits.
    • As a private seller, you will have to field enquiries and arrange viewings. Be prepared to deal with timewasters.
    • There are many free and paid car advertising options available, including car advertising websites, online marketplaces, enthusiasts’ forums, social platforms – and traditional notice board and print magazine ads.
  • Selling to webuyanycar

    Looking for a quick, hassle-free way to sell your car? webuyanycar can buy your car, regardless of its age and condition. Here’s how it works:

    • Get a quote in under 30 seconds with our free car valuation tool.
    • Book your appointment at any of our 500+ UK branches.
    • Drive to your appointment. If you’re happy to sell to us, the buyer will help with the paperwork and send the money to your bank.

    webuyanycar offers a ‘guaranteed sale’, so you won’t have to waste time and effort meeting dealers and punters who aren’t interested in buying your car.

  • Selling to a dealership

    • Selling to a dealership can also be a simple and convenient way to sell your car, especially if you intend to part exchange it.
    • However, car dealerships have significant overhead costs and are focused on making a profit, so they typically offer considerably less than what you might get on the private market.
    • Many dealerships will also refuse cars with significant cosmetic or mechanical issues.
  • Selling at an auction

    • Auctions can help you find the right buyer for your rare, niche or collectable car.
    • You could get a great price for your car by selling it at auction.
    • If the auction has several bidders who are particularly keen on your car, you might be able to raise even more than on the private market.
    • However, you’ll also have to factor in any seller and buyer fees when setting your price.
    • There is also no guarantee that bidders will meet your minimum asking price.
    • You’ll have to arrange transport home if you’ll be leaving the auction without the car.
  • Scrapping your car

Illustration of a sign post for different ways to sell your car

Tip 3: Choose the right time to sell

Your car’s value may fluctuate at different times of year due to factors such as:

  • Seasonality - Demand for different types of used cars varies throughout the year. For example, used convertibles sell well during the spring and summer, but fewer people buy them during the colder months. Therefore, you may get a better price for your convertible during the spring or summer when demand is higher.
  • New number plate launches – New number plates launch twice a year in the UK – in March and September. This often has a positive knock-on effect for the used market. So, you could get a great price for your motor if you sell it around the time of a number plate launch.

Tip 4: Make sure the paperwork is in order

Before putting your motor on the market, make sure that you have all the documents needed to sell your car. Ideally, you should have the following:

Although it is possible to sell a car without a V5C logbook, this can make the process more difficult (and will substantially reduce the car’s value). Therefore, in most cases, completing a V62 form to request a replacement V5C logbook from the DVLA is well worth the effort.

Tip 5: Check for minor damage

  • A grimy appearance can diminish even the most prestigious car.
  • So, if you want prospective buyers to see yours in the best possible light, it’s time to give it a thorough clean.
  • Automatic car washes and self-service jet washes are both fast and convenient options for freshening up your car.
  • However, the brushes and rollers will have been used on many other vehicles before yours. So, they can easily transfer dirt and grit onto your car – and over time, this can lead to fine scratches or ‘swirls’ in the paintwork.
  • Therefore, if you really want to shine up the exterior, you’re better off using car shampoo with a bucket, sponge and a little elbow grease.
  • Don’t neglect the interior. De-clutter the inside of your car and deep clean the upholstery. This will help you maximise its value and saleability.

Tip 6: Take your car for a service and renew the MOT

  • To maximise the value and lifespan of your car, you should take it to be serviced at the manufacturer-recommended intervals.
  • If your car’s next service interval is coming up, taking care of this proactively can instil viewers with confidence that the vehicle is in good working order.
  • A ‘full’ or ‘major’ service will incorporate more thorough tests and checks than a routine ‘interim’ service.
  • Many buyers will be more inclined to buy a vehicle that has recently had a ‘full’ or ‘major’ service, as they won’t need to pay for an in-depth service in the immediate future.
  • If your car’s MOT expiry date is coming up within the next six months, we recommend getting it re-tested.
  • If your car has recently passed its MOT, this can help to reassure prospective buyers that everything is in good working order.
Illustration of a car with happy driver

Tip 7: Delete your personal data

You might not have considered erasing your personal data from your car, but you certainly should!

If your phone and car are Bluetooth-enabled, you may have copied your phonebook to your car’s memory. What’s more, if your car has a built-in sat nav, this device may also have the addresses of your home, workplace and friends stored.

You probably don’t want to share all this personal data with the next owner, so we recommend deleting it before selling your car. Here’s how to do it:

  • Erase the data – You should be able to do this from the ‘Settings’ menu on your car’s infotainment system. If you can’t find how to do this on the menu, refer to the owner’s manual. Be careful not to reconnect your smartphone to the car when you’re about to sell it, otherwise you may leave trace information behind.
  • Revoke access – Simply removing the car’s app from your phone won’t be sufficient here; you must break the link between your phone and the vehicle. You’ll need to access the infotainment system and trigger the master reset key. Check the manual if necessary and ensure that access has been fully revoked before selling your motor.

Tip 8: Create a listing with good quality photos

If you plan to advertise your car to private sellers on car advertising websites, set some time aside to take good quality photos. Aim to take a variety of interior and exterior shots, ideally in daylight.

Your photos should be accompanied by a concise, informative written advert. Be honest about the car’s age, mileage, condition and any faults that are present.

Tip 9: Be professional

  • After you've placed your advert(s), enquiries should start coming in. This is when you need to channel your inner car salesperson.
  • From the moment each caller picks up the phone, engage with them in a professional, courteous manner. If they are interested in viewing (or even test driving) the vehicle, you can arrange this at a mutually convenient time.
  • Always aim to be punctual. Try to keep appointments wherever possible, but if you must cancel, provide the viewer with plenty of notice and give them the option to reschedule.

Tip 10: Take precautions and watch out for scammers and thieves

  • Watch out for car buying scams

    • When you advertise your car for sale, someone may respond to your ad, claiming to have found a buyer and offer to introduce you in exchange for a ‘finder’s fee’.
    • This is a common scam: many sellers have paid this fee, only to never hear from the respondent again. Just think, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!
    • Scammers may also attempt the ‘dirty oil’ trick. This scam typically involves a pair of prospective buyers. Whilst one distracts the owner, the other pours oil into the coolant reservoir, which will cause smoke to pour out of the engine during the test drive.
    • The prospective buyers will then demand a discount due to the apparent fault.
    • You should be vigilant and refuse the sale if any viewers are behaving suspiciously.
  • Stick to where you know

    Members of various online automotive communities have advised against meeting prospective buyers at unfamiliar locations.

    It is a known tactic for car thieves to make an appointment with a private seller, then ask them to meet at a remote spot (perhaps claiming they are lost) before forcibly taking the vehicle. Use your common sense – and if you don’t feel safe, don’t agree to meet the viewer.

  • Keep safe during viewings and test drives

    • Don’t allow viewers to test drive your car unsupervised.
    • If you allow a viewer to inspect the car, don’t leave the keys in the ignition.
  • Don’t give out your address

    Posters have also advised against meeting viewers at your home address, especially if this is where the car is kept. By doing so, you risk unwittingly attracting car thieves.

  • Obtain viewers’ details

    Before arranging a viewing or test drive, obtain the viewer’s full name, phone number – and preferably, their address.

  • Bring support

    If you are meeting a viewer, bring a friend or family member with you for support. They can also assist you with the viewing and/or test drive.

  • Make sure you are both covered for a test drive

    • Your vehicle must be taxed and MOT certified to be used on the roads.
    • The prospective buyer should arrange temporary car insurance before taking a test drive.
    • You should also ask them to produce to their driving licence as proof that they are legally entitled to drive the vehicle.
    • If they do not have their licence, don’t allow them to drive - offer to demonstrate the car yourself instead.

Tip 11: Negotiate a price you’re both happy with

When negotiating with a buyer, start with your maximum price, but show a willingness to lower your offer – and try to meet them in the middle. If the buyer feels that they have haggled a discount, they are more likely to accept your offer.

Illustration of cash in hand

Tip 12: Ensure you get paid

In the automotive industry, ‘buying a car with cash’ refers to any method of paying for a vehicle upfront (rather than in a series of instalments or through a car finance plan). Most private sellers accept some form of upfront payment.

  • Taking physical money as payment is simple, straightforward and involves no transaction fees. Count the cash carefully before handing over the keys to ensure the buyer has paid the correct amount.
  • Bank transfers are one of the safest and most convenient forms of payment. Buyers can arrange payment quickly through their banking app or by calling their bank.
  • Buyers can also make CHAPS (Clearing House Automated Payment System) payments, which should clear in a matter of hours (whereas BACS transfers may take up to 2-3 business days). However, they may also be charged a fee for this transaction.
  • An escrow is a legal arrangement where a third party temporarily holds money until a particular condition (often the completion of a sale) has been met. You should be wary of fake escrow companies recommended to you by buyers. Before using a reputed escrow service, check the company name against the Financial Conduct Authority’s (FCA) financial services register.
  • We would advise against accepting PayPal as a payment method, as cars aren’t covered by their buyer or seller protection. Therefore, if there is an issue with the payment (e.g. if it fails or is not authorised), then you won’t be covered.
  • Do not hand over the keys and paperwork until you are satisfied that you have been paid in full.

Tip 13: Get refunds for your insurance and road tax

If you have outstanding cover on your car’s insurance policy when you sell it, you should be able to claim a partial refund. The amount you can claim will depend on how long you have left on the policy and the terms and conditions set by your provider.

It is your legal responsibility to notify the DVLA after selling your car (and by failing to do so, you risk incurring a £1,000 penalty). If there are any full months’ car tax remaining, you can also claim a car tax refund through the DVLA.

Tip 14: Be as transparent as possible

  • You should aim to be completely honest about your vehicle throughout the selling process.
  • Answering any questions truthfully will build trust.
  • Accurately describing your car will reduce the risk of legal complications should the vehicle develop faults after the point of sale.
  • Remember transparency is key to a successful and legally sound transaction.

What else should I consider?

  • Before selling a car with outstanding finance, you will need to settle the balance of the agreement with the lender. However, if you choose to sell to webuyanycar, the buyer can settle the finance on your behalf. You’ll just need to provide us with an in-date settlement letter from the lender.
  • Once you have notified the DVLA of the sale, you will receive a car tax refund (if you have any full months’ outstanding cover). It is then the new owner’s responsibility to tax the car.
  • If your car still has outstanding warranty cover, you should contact the provider and notify them of the change of ownership.
  • Similarly, if you have products such as servicing packages, you should also contact the relevant providers to enquire whether they can be transferred to the new owner.

Good luck – and happy selling!

We hope you found our guide helpful and are now prepared for car selling success!

Although some aspects of car selling can be tricky, our tips and strategies are here to help you navigate the market and get the sale you want.

Remember, if you find that a particular selling method doesn’t yield the desired results, you can always try an alternative.

No matter what you ultimately decide, we wish you every success on your car selling journey!