Prices and adverts for used car sales

Getting your car on the market

The easiest and most convenient way to sell your car is to trade it in when you buy a new one from a dealer

The easiest and most convenient way to sell your car is to trade it in when you buy a new one from a dealer

Price is all important. Get it wrong and your car won't sell. Have a look around to see what similar cars are being advertised for, bearing in mind, condition, age and mileage.

The easiest and most convenient way to sell your car is to trade it in when you buy a new one from a dealer, but this will give you the lowest price.  A valuation service will give you an idea of trade-in price depending on the car's condition but a dealer may not offer that much if he doesn't expect to be able to sell it on quickly for a profit.

Selling privately

Selling your car privately should get you more cash, assuming you can find a buyer, but it certainly won't be as convenient as you will have to:

  • find space for two cars at home
  • arrange and pay for advertsing
  • maintain insurance cover and car tax on two cars
  • deal with potential buyers - enquiries, viewings and test drives
  • get paid and make sure that funds are in your account before you hand over the keys

Don't expect to get as much as the dealer's forecourt price though – the dealer has costs to cover, is likely to be including a warranty and may well have put time/money into preparing the car.

Price your car as reasonably as possible – especially if you want a quick sale. You may want to compare similar car adverts to gauge current prices.

Some cars are seasonal – don't expect to get the best price for a convertible if you're selling in the autumn, though this can be a good time to buy one.

Be realistic about the asking price while allowing room for bargaining. Buyers feel better if they've managed to knock the price down a bit but might be put off even enquiring if the initial asking price is too high.


For a private buyer it's a case of 'buyer beware' as they are not protected in law to the same extent as when buying from a dealer but that doesn't mean you can sell a car in any condition or describe it as something it's not.  If you advertise a car for sale:

  • You must have the right to sell it
  • The vehicle must match your description
  • The vehicle must be roadworthy

If you're going to make claims like 'very good condition', make sure you can substantiate the claim. The buyer won't be expecting to see a rust bucket and an unhappy buyer could take you to court if they think you've misled them. Avoid words such as 'genuine' and 'cheap' – these just serve to make buyers wary.

Keep it simple

Keep your ad as brief as possible, using plain English rather than jargon, while ensuring that you highlight any optional extras that are likely to be of interest to potential buyers.

Online advertising sites are likely to look after a lot of the basics of the ad such as the car's specification but, wherever you advertise, you need to make sure the ad includes:

  • make, model and variant
  • mileage
  • price
  • fuel, engine size, transmission and year of first registration
  • extent of service history
  • MOT expiry date
  • your location and contact details
  • photographs inside and out - make sure you clean the car first!

Call to Action

Remember, if you get a call, be polite. Have paperwork handy so you can answer questions, such as mileage and number of owners and remember to be completely honest. When potential buyers come round to view the car, don't let anyone into your home, and make sure someone else is with you for the viewing.

(11 August 2014)