Selling Your Car – What You Need To Know

So you’ve decided it’s time to upgrade your wheels. Once you’ve decided which car you want to buy, the next decision is what to do with your current vehicle. You have a range of options, and much will depend on where you are buying your new car from. There is lots to think about, so here are our top tips.




Trading In

If you are buying from a dealer, they may be prepared to take your old car as part of the payment for the new one. The amount they will offer for your car will depend on its age, mileage and condition. Getting a higher value for your old car can help reduce the amount of money you have to borrow to finance the new one. Everything is up for negotiation. Be realistic though, search online on sites such as Glass’s guide to work out a rough starting point for the vehicle you are thinking of trading in.


If you can’t trade your car in or don’t want to, and don’t want the hassle of selling your car yourself, then putting it into an auction is another option. Most towns and cities across the UK will have a car auction site, so search online to look for the local one. Auction houses will charge a percentage of the selling price of your car as a fee, as well as charges for listing and storage. It might be a low hassle way of selling your car but most people at an auction are looking for a bargain and you are unlikely to get the best possible price for your car.

Private Sale

The other main option is selling your car privately. This means handling the sale yourself, dealing with the advertising, organising the test drives and taking payment. It’s the ideal way of getting the highest price for your car, but means a lot more effort on your part. If this is the route you decide to go round, there are several stages to a successful sale.


There is a huge range of options for advertising your car. Local paper, Facebook, Gumtree, word of mouth, specialist sites like Autotrader, Ebay – the list is endless. Some of these sites charge a fee, others are free. It’s probably best trying the free sites first and if you have no interest, move onto the paid sites. If you’re advertising your car then you have to stick to the same advertising laws as everyone else. You must, by law, describe the car accurately and list key facts such as make, model, year of manufacture, condition, mileage and colour. Once you’ve listed your car, respond quickly to queries about the car.

Watch Out for Scammers

There are loads of scammers online who will try to con you out of money or a valuable asset such as your car. Do your homework about payment methods, and make sure you agree to payments by cleared banker’s drafts or cash only. It’s usually best to have someone else with you when a buyer comes round to look at the car, and don’t allow them to take a car out on a test drive alone. Don’t hand over the keys for the car until you have cleared funds in your bank account.


If you’re selling your car privately you will also have to organise the documents needed to make the sale legal. Once you’ve agreed a price, write out a receipt stating your name, the name of the buyer, the registration of the car you have sold, and the selling price. Sign both copies and get the buyer to do the same. Keep one copy, and give the other to the buyer.

You will also need the V5 document which you should have been given when you bought the car. This is the coloured piece of paper which some people refer to as “the logbook”. Complete the new keeper details, tear off the appropriate portion of the form and give it to the buyer. Then send the rest of the form off to the DVLA and the buyer will receive their new V5 in the post. You can also do this online through the government website. If you’ve lost the V5 form then you can contact the DVLA and ask for a replacement, although there is a fee for this.


If the car you are selling is more than three years old, then your buyer will want to know whether it has a current MOT certificate. This is the piece of paper which you were given when the car had its MOT last. The buyer can also go online and visit a site such as and check both the MOT and tax status of any car simply by putting in the registration number. If your car’s MOT has run out then it’s going to be a much harder sell. Either reduce the price to account for the inconvenience to the buyer, or book an appointment to get a current certificate before advertising the sale. You should also give your buyer the manual and service history documents if you have them, although this isn’t a legal requirement.


Buyers can also check online to see whether the car is currently taxed. In the days of the paper tax disc it was common for sellers to give the new buyer the remaining time on the tax disc before it expired. Now that the tax system is digital, that’s no longer the case. When you sell your car, log into the DVLA website to inform them of the sale. The tax on the car is automatically cancelled and the DVLA will send you a cheque for the unused portion of the tax. This obviously means that the buyer has to tax the car too, and should do this before they pick it up and drive it away. Driving a car which has no tax is illegal, but as a seller it’s not your responsibility to police this. Just remind your buyer to get online and make the payment.


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