How to sell my car successfully

Preparation - Making the car Shine

Place Ad - Make it Stand Out

Viewing's - Dealing with Potential Buyers

The Sale - Be Safe and Prepared

Documents - Get the paperwork right and ready


Properly cleaning your car before sale can add hundreds of pounds to its value. That doesn't mean just driving it through a car wash - you need to pay more attention to detail. That could mean paying £60-£120 to have it professionally valeted, or you could do it yourself.

If you decide to do the work, buy some decent car shampoo and a decent polish. See this as an investment; £45-£50 spent on the right products, plus a bit of elbow grease, could see your car's value increase by several hundred pounds.

Hose the car down then with the bodywork already wet, hand wash the panels using a sponge and some soapy water. Don't use washing up liquid as it smears and don't hose down the engine bay as you might damage the electrical systems. Once you've cleaned the outer panels focus on:

  • The wheels
  • The wheel arches and under arches
  • The door shuts - 'A', 'B' and 'C' posts including boot and tailgate areas

Once you've washed everything, leather down the bodywork and glass, to get rid of any drying out marks. While the car dries out, turn your attention to the interior.

  • Vacuum the carpets and seats
  • Empty the ash trays
  • Remove any rubbish in the boot and glove box
  • Try to remove any stains on seats and upholstery

Wipe over the dashboard and trim panels with a damp cloth and if the headlining or seats are dirty, clean them with a mixture of upholstery cleaner and warm water. While the interior dries out, you can then finish off by applying a coat of polish to the bodywork, which will help to keep your car clean for a few weeks.

Place ad

Advertising your car on is quick and easy, but if you don't use the best wording or you ask too much for the car, you'll get a limited response. Here's how to create a great advert.

Start by working out how much to ask for your car. Price it too low and you'll lose money, but price it too high and you'll get no interest. The key is to price it just above what you'll accept, leaving room to haggle - everyone likes to think they're getting a bargain.

You can get your car valued on, for just £3.50. This is valued through a trade database and gives you a tailored value, for your car specifically (depending on details provided), but it's also worth looking at what other people are asking for their cars. A quick look through our listings, the web or local garages, will help you set the price effectively. When setting the price, take into consideration the mileage, derivative and overall condition of your car.

Once you've worked out the right price for your car, put an advert together that tells potential buyers everything they're likely to need to know. Our system covers most areas and offers a separate description area.

Make sure you include:

  • The exact type of car, including the engine size and body style
  • The year and registration
  • Your car's mileage and colour
  • How much Road Tax and MOT are left
  • How many owners it's had and how much service history is available
  • equipment that's fitted, such as air-con, alloy wheels, sat-nav


Selling a car can be a daunting prospect, but by knowing what to expect, you can avoid being caught out by experienced hagglers, time wasters or criminals. Follow these steps to make sure you're not caught out.

  • Don't go out alone to meet someone, this is dangerous and risky. You are best off showing the vehicle at home or your work place with a family member, colleague or friend
  • Don't let a buyer go out alone, as they might not come back
  • Check they have adequate insurance cover, or you could be liable for any accidents
  • Always keep the keys on you when swapping seats or getting out of the car
  • Let buyers follow their own route, as many are suspicious if you dictate which roads to take

Buyers will probably be keen to haggle on your asking price. You need to be firm, without being unreasonable; set a price beforehand and keep it in your head during negotiations. While this price in your mind should be the lowest you're prepared to sell the car for, don't decline a sale over a £25-£50 difference in your lowest and their highest offer. It'll cost you far more in re-advertising fees, preparing, time and hassle.

The sale

In an ideal world, you'd be paid cash during office hours, but this isn't always possible. If you do receive cash, try to get it handed over in a bank, so you can pay it in immediately and the cashier can check for fake notes. If your buyer gives you cash outside banking hours, pay it in as soon as possible.

A far better way is electronic transfer. It allows you to transfer funds online, but it can take a few days, so don't release the car until the bank tells you the funds have been successfully transferred.

Personal cheques and bank or building society cheques can cause problems. Personal cheques can be cancelled or issued without the available funds in the account, so if you've already handed over the car, you could be left seriously out of pocket. Despite common belief, bank or building society cheques aren't as good as cash; forged cheques are common.

Other precautions you can take include:

  • Ask the bank if you can draw funds against the cheque; asking if the cheque has cleared can mean something different
  • If possible, go with the buyer to the bank to draw the cheque
  • Ask the buyer for ID with an address and landline telephone number; if they're reluctant to give this information, be wary


It's easy to be daunted by the various bits of paperwork that accompany your car, but there's nothing to be frightened of. Once the deal has been sealed, you'll need to write a receipt acknowledging the following information:

  • The date
  • The amount paid
  • The make and model of car sold
  • The car's registration
  • The names and addresses of buyer and seller

Make two copies of the receipt; one for you and one for the buyer. The most important thing for you to do next is to fill out the tear-off portion of your car's registration document (its V5C) and send it off to the DVLA; give the top part of the V5C to the new owner. Telling the DVLA that the car has a new owner means you won't be liable for any fines racked up after the sale.

Finish off by handing over any other useful documentation such as:

  • The car's handbook and service records
  • The MOT certificate (if it's over three years old)
  • Any paperwork that relates to the car's warranty, if it still has one