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How to sell your car for the best price

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sell your car for the best price

Before you go ahead and buy that new car you really love, you need to work out how to get the best price for the model you’ve already got on the driveway.

There’s a bit of a trade-off that goes on when it comes to selling a car. You can hold out and get the best possible money for it, but this takes a bit longer. On the other hand, you can sell it quickly, but you probably won’t get top money as a result – so you need to make that decision first.

The first thing to do before you even think about how you’re going to sell is to work out how much your car is worth. These days getting an online car valuation is pretty simple, and you can find out how much your car is worth quickly and easily.

There are three main avenues to pick from once you’ve got a grip on how much your car is worth. You can go for a private sale, a trade in or a car-buying site.

Private sale

If you want to get the most money for selling your car, you will want to do it privately. When you trade in or sell to a buying site, you won’t get as much money as those places need to profit on your car. With a private sale, you can pocket that profit yourself – but it takes more effort on your part.

Firstly, get your car’s paperwork all in order and make sure it’s all to hand.

  • The V5C (registration document or ‘logbook’) needs to be with the car when you sell, so you can fill out the relevant sections. Make sure it’s got your current address and details on it.
  • Collect all the receipts of the car’s service history and any other expenses including tyres and any modifications (such as a radio or stereo upgrade)
  • All the spare keys, locking wheel nuts and tool kit need to be ready to go as well
  • You’ll want to make sure there’s at least three months MOT left. If it’s close to MOT time, get it tested before you sell
  • Make a note of the mileage

Next, it’s time to prepare the car for being sold:

  • Get a finance settlement figure so buyers know you have paid off the car if you used finance to buy it
  • Wash the outside of the car and look for any scratches or marks that can be covered up using off-the-shelf products easily – it’s a great way to make the car look smarter for a small extra cost
  • Makes sure the tyres are in good order with lots of tread left
  • Clear the interior out, then give it a thorough clean to make it look and smell nice
  • Photograph it from every angle, inside and out. You don’t have to include all the photos in your advert for the car, but you’ll want the pictures if a potential buyer requests more
  • Write the classified ad. Be detailed but succinct, buyers don’t want to read an essay. Use bullet points for clarity if you like, and describe all the good and bad points so buyers know what they’re looking for.
  • Work out the value of your car and place a classified ad at what you want to get. Be prepared for a bit of haggling when a buyer arrives.

Trade in

If you are going to buy from a dealer, then trading in your old car as part of the sale is probably the easiest thing you can do – but you won’t get the best price for this, so you have to be prepared to miss out on some money. It’s sometimes worth saving the time and effort of selling a car privately, though.

Some of the same steps as above apply. If you can present your car as a really clean example with an immaculate interior – thanks to a day’s hard work with the vacuum – then the dealer may offer more than if you present it full of dirt and junk.

Sell it to a buying service

Car buying sites will give you a similar price as a dealer, because just like the dealers they’re going to clean it out and sell it on for a profit.

Sometimes the dealer you’re buying from might offer you a poor price for your car, or not want to take it at all, so a car buying service is great for that. It means you can be sure your car will be sold and you’ll have money in your pocket quickly.

There are some big names in the car buying game but don’t just stick to the main one or two you’ve heard of on the telly. Newer and smaller outfits may offer you a better price, so shop around like you would when buying.

You need to tell them the condition of your car accurately, because they can refuse to buy it if they turn up and it’s not as described.


I'm a passionate full-time blogger. I love writing about startups, how they can access key resources, avoid legal mistakes, respond to questions from angel investors as well as the reality check for startups. Continue reading my articles for more insight.

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