If the time has come to change your car, you might be wondering about the best way to sell your existing vehicle. For some people, a trade-in or ‘we buy any car’ dealer is attractive because it’s relatively hassle-free. However, selling your used car privately has one big advantage – you’ll get a higher price for it.
Even if your vehicle isn’t worth much, you’ll be able to ask more than if you offer it in part-exchange – usually a difference of 10% -20%. With that in mind, a private sale suddenly seems an appealing option.
There are a few things you can do to speed along a sale, however – here’s what we recommend.
Get your paperwork ready
This will vary according to where you’re based, but the most important document you need is proof that you are the vehicle’s registered keeper or owner. In the UK this is the V5, or logbook; in the US, it’s known as the ‘pink slip’; in Europe, you’ll have a car registration document. If your vehicle needs a certificate of roadworthiness – such as an MOT in the UK – make sure you have that to hand, along with its service history.
If you’ve replaced the tires, battery or any other key components recently, collect the receipts and any guarantees together ready to show potential buyers. In most countries, you can also obtain a vehicle check for a reasonable fee – you might want to do this to save them the trouble and show you have nothing to hide.
Decide your asking price
Check how much similar cars are selling for in your area by browsing classified adverts in your local media, car magazines and online. Assuming your car is in good condition, setting a price slightly above market value gives you room for negotiation; most buyers want to haggle and like to feel they’ve got a good deal. If you’re looking to sell your second-hand car quickly, though, you might decide to price slightly below.
Whatever you decide, be realistic and remember that, psychologically, €6,900 looks more reasonable than €7,100.
Give your car curb appeal
Your car needs to look great. If it’s dirty and covered in dents and scratches, a potential buyer will take one look and walk away. Ensure any major damage is repaired. If your wheel rims are scuffed, order some EZFIX for Wheels patches and restore them to pristine condition – search for your make and model here, place your order and they’ll be delivered to your door within a few days.
You don’t need to go the extent of a professional valet, but wash and polish the outside of your car, and vacuum the inside. Make sure the luggage compartment and glovebox are tidy and clear personal clutter. Remember to check your spare tire is in good condition. If you can, ask someone impartial for their impression – what would your neighbor think if they were looking to buy your car?
Prepare your advert
Good photographs are an important sales tool. Take plenty in good lighting – drive to a different location if you need to. As well as exterior shots, take some of the interior – you might want to show off hidden storage compartments, for example. Take pictures of the dashboard and controls to highlight special features and of the odometer to show the current mileage. Close-ups of the tires prove they are in good condition.
When it comes to wording, keep it simple. The make, model, price and mileage are usually required, so don’t repeat them. Instead, give details about any add-ons or special features. Keep it factual and accurate – what would you want to know if you were buying?
Screen potential buyers
Use your instinct. While most callers will be genuine, be aware that thieves will sometimes pose as a buyer. Never give out information such as the VIN number or share personal information over the phone. Genuine buyers will want to come and check out your car for themselves.
Take their name, address and phone number and call back to confirm a viewing appointment. If you’re arranging a test drive, ask to see their driving license and check they are insured. Don’t let them take your car out on their own – insist on accompanying them. If you’re swapping seats halfway through, remove keys from the ignition and hand them back once you’re in the passenger seat. If it makes you feel more comfortable, ask a friend or relative to come with you.
Making the sale
Consider how you want to be paid once you’ve agreed a sale. The safest options are online bank transfer or receiving cash in person at your branch. Remember banker’s drafts can be forged, and cheques take time to clear.
Whichever way you choose to receive your money, don’t hand over your car, the keys or any documents until you’ve been paid in full. Provide a receipt that shows the vehicle is sold as seen and has no guarantee. This doesn’t affect the buyer’s legal rights – the car must meet any description you’ve given, in your advert or verbally. You might also like to use a buyer’s/seller’s contract – make sure you both have a copy to keep.