How to sell a car

How to sell quickly and get the best price

Tips and advice for selling your car

There are many things to think about when selling your car. Are you hoping to sell quickly? Get as much money as you can? Or do you just want the sale to be as easy and stress-free as possible?

Buying a used car

Selling quickly the traditional way

If you’re looking to trade up your old car for a newer model, traditionally you’d part-exchange your vehicle at a dealership.

However, you can’t be sure you’re getting the best price. The dealer will probably have to send your old car to an auction. And, of course, they’ll want to make a profit. So they may not offer anything like your car’s true value.

Selling your car privately

Selling privately could get you more cash, assuming you can find a buyer, but it will typically involve more work. You’ll have to:

  • Arrange and pay for advertising
  • Get your documents ready
  • Deal with potential buyers – including enquiries, viewings, and test drives
  • Negotiate a fair price
  • Make sure payment takes place in a safe and legal way 

Selling your car with our partner Motorway

If you want the price you would get from selling your car privately – without the time-consuming tasks that go with it – you should use our partner Motorway.

With Motorway, you don’t have to compromise price and ease of selling. They offer a simple, quick and transparent way of getting the best price for your car. Plus, they’re free to use.

To get started:

  1. Simply choose to sell your car through us
  2. We’ll send you to Motorway where you’ll get an estimated sale price based on up-to-the-minute market data
  3. They’ll ask you a few straightforward questions about your car and guide you through the photos you need to take to complete your vehicle profile

You can usually do everything right from your phone in a matter of minutes.

If you enter your car into Motorway’s daily sale, they’ll show it to their nationwide network of 5,000+ verified used car dealers. Interested dealers will then compete to buy your car by offering you their best price.

In as little as 24 hours, you’ll receive your best offer. If you choose to go ahead with the sale, the dealer will collect your car for free ­and drop the money into your bank account quickly and securely.

Price your car realistically

If you want a quick sale, you need to price your car realistically.

Do some online research at places like eBay, AutoTrader and AA Cars to see what similar cars are going for. You could also check dealerships in your area.

Or you can get a free valuation based on real-time market data from our partner Motorway.

Preparing your car for sale

However you choose to sell your car, getting it ‘sale-ready’ is essential if you want to sell quickly and get the best price. Presentation, mechanical condition, and service history can all make a difference. You should:

  • Clean your car inside and out and make sure it’s generally tidy
  • Repair minor paintwork damage or simple mechanical faults
  • Get a new MOT, particularly if there’s less than three months on the current one
  • Consider a full, professional valet service – it'll save you time and can really make a difference

Selling a car on finance

If you want to sell a car you’re currently financing, a good first step is to contact your finance company to talk about your options or get their permission.

When selling your car privately, you’ll need to pay off any outstanding finance first – as it’s illegal to sell a car you don’t fully own. And don’t forget any outstanding hire-purchase or conditional sale agreements.

If you’re selling using a dealer, they may be able to help make the process easier. For example, if you use our partner Motorway, their dealers can clear the outstanding finance when you sell.

Arranging a test drive

When arranging for potential buyers to view or test drive your car, remember to get their name, address and phone number. A genuine buyer should be happy to provide these ­– and will understand if you call back to confirm arrangements and check the phone number given.

If the buyer wants to test drive the car, ask to see their driving licence. And if your own insurance doesn’t cover it, check they’re insured.

Always go along on any test drives. If you switch seats midway through the journey, take the keys with you and hand them over when you get back in the car. 

If you’re worried about being alone with a stranger, ask a friend or relative to join you for the viewing or test drive, if you can.

Find out more:

Don’t be a victim of fraud

Beware of would-be buyers contacting you online or over the phone and asking for details like the car’s VIN number. They could use this information to create a cloned advert. Genuine buyers should be happy to come and view the car and check those details for themselves.

Have your documents ready

If possible, keep all the necessary documents to hand, like your car’s MOT certificates and service records. A fully stamped service record will make your car more attractive to most buyers.

Never allow prospective buyers to make copies or take photos of your car’s documents before you’ve sold it. Only hand over the documents after you’ve agreed the sale and had payment.

Make sure you get paid

Bank transfers are generally regarded as the safest and fastest form of payment. Customers can make payments over the phone or through online banking all day, every day.

Or you can make an immediate bank transfer using the CHAPS system – though you’ll usually have to pay a fee.

ESCROW, where a third party holds the money for you and the buyer, can also be a safe way of getting paid. However, you need to watch out for fake ESCROW or shipping companies recommended by the buyer. To check if a company is legitimate, you can use the Financial Conduct Authority’s (FCA) financial services register.

If the buyer wants to pay using a personal or building society cheque, explain to them you’ll need to wait for the money to clear. Remember also that bankers’ drafts can be forged.

It’s essential that you don’t hand over the keys until you’re totally happy you’ve been paid in full.

Providing a receipt for payment

Before the buyer drives off, it’s a good idea to draw up a receipt and sellers’ contract to protect yourself. We have a handy contract you can download and use.

Make sure:

  • This receipt includes the phrase “sold as seen, tried and approved without guarantee”
  • You print two copies of the contract, one for you and one for your buyer
  • You and your buyer sign and date both copies of the contract
  • You each keep a signed copy as proof of the purchase

Remember, while the buyer is agreeing that the car is as you’ve described at the point of sale, this doesn’t affect their legal right to reject a car they then discover isn’t roadworthy.

Tell the DVLA

Let the DVLA know as soon as possible that you’ve sold the vehicle and are no longer responsible for it. You don't want to end up with any fines or parking tickets that the new owner might be responsible for.

Contact the DVLA and let them know you’re no longer the owner – the quickest and simplest way is online. The vehicle record will then officially be updated, and you’ll get a refund on any unused vehicle tax.

You can also tell the DVLA by post, though it will take longer for the record to update and to get any vehicle tax refund. Complete the ‘New Keeper Details’ on your V5C logbook and both you and the buyer need to sign the declaration. You can then send this to the DVLA.

Whether you decide to inform the DVLA online or by post, make sure you give the buyer the V5C/2 section of the V5C logbook. It’s their proof of keepership until they receive a new V5C from the DVLA.

(Updated Jan 2023)