5 Things to Do When Selling a Car Privately

  • Author: OPONEO.CO.UK

Buying a car can be a super exciting time, especially when it’s brand new, but that usually comes with an added burden of selling your existing used car, and sometimes… it can be tempting to just park it up and forget about it for another day. 

Strangers coming round your house, the worry of cash being real, giving out your bank details or just dealing with tyre kickers who’ll offer you less than half without even so much as a “please” or “thank you,” it’s no wonder that some sellers will just trade it to avoid all of that. But if you do want to sell your car privately, there are one or two things that can help.

car for sale

#1 Decide where to advertise your car for sale

First of all, you should think about where you’re actually going to sell your car – a national buying & selling app may get you a wide audience, the same as internet auction sites, but what about owners clubs, motoring forums or even local specialists?

You’ll be reaching the type of buyer that will have more interest in your vehicle, will likely know the fair price (and pay that), and will know of any pitfalls to look out for, which could save you a great deal of time in the selling process.

#2 Price your car fairly

All too often, people try and recoup some of their expenditure in the sale price, but ask yourself – ‘Is your car really worth that?’

Think about what affects the price – for example, the value of cars with diesel engines are through the floor right now, even new sales are down around 43% so a used car will be worth a fraction of what you paid for it, no matter how low-mileage or well-serviced it is. 

A big snarling V8 is great fun to drive, but fuel prices are increasing almost daily, and a sporty V8 will have terrible fuel economy, so your target market will be limited.

a women in a car, holding the car key

#3 Make sure your car looks at its best

Of course, factors such as car maintenance or servicing could affect the price, but you should also think about other ‘obvious’ things – giving the car a clean, clearing the rubbish out, fixing any simple mechanical things like blown light bulbs. If a buyer shows up to look at your car and it looks like you can’t be bothered with it, their price will reflect that. 

Equally, if you can pull out a service folder wedged full with invoices, service records, car history, and even some sort of personal attachment (like the time you took it to the Italian lakes), then you’re more likely to get closer to the asking price. 

Even small details can make a difference – if the buyer is coming to view the car after a rain shower, dry the paintwork off to show it at its best – most serious buyers wouldn’t invest hard money in a car if they can’t inspect the paintwork properly.

young man holding the car key ]

#4 Test-drive the car with a buyer

If the car is road legal, you should always be prepared for a test drive, and unless the buyer has specific insurance to cover them, you should never let them drive the car – not only will you be breaking the law, but just on the off chance that there’s an incident, you’ll struggle to get money out of them. 

Also, never let the buyer take the car without you, even if they’ve left a deposit, be that monetary, driving licence or passport. 

Finally, plan a route that shows off the best aspects of the car – a tight and twisty circuit, open road, a ride through the town … whatever the key selling point of the car is, maximise that.

smiling man in a car

#5 Have all the papers ready

Get all the relevant paperwork together – “Sorry, I don’t actually have the V5 to hand” is the fastest way of losing a sale, and believe us when we tell you that it’s surprising how often that happens. 

Ensure that the car is actually in a fit condition to sell – unless you’re selling it with the known problems listed, you should do everything you can to ensure a smooth experience for the buyer. Flat battery? Charge it before they arrive. Brakes seized on from standing too long? Free them off. Water ingress from the soft top? Dry it out and air it. 

The point is that you want to give the buyer the best experience possible, with as few reasons not to buy it as you can; there are literally thousands of cars for sale at any one time. And unless you have something really special, a buyer could have dozens of potential buys lined up for a single day – make yours stand out.

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