11 tips for selling your car privately

If you're reading this, the chances are you're considering selling your car privately. Maybe you're a bit nervous or unsure how to go about it. It can be a stressful process, but it really needn't be. Our straightforward guide lays out some of the different options, as well as tips and tricks for getting the price you want.

Chuck a bucket of soapy water over it

Let's be real, our cars become an extension of our homes. We keep half our shoe collection in the boot, an assortment of coats for all seasons in the backseat and though we're ashamed to admit it, more often than not the passenger footwell doubles as a handy bin.

Man telling someone off for being dirty

Put your clothes back in your wardrobe, treat your car to a quick hoover and chuck away the 4,000 empty water bottles you've collected over the years- it will make the world of difference when you come to sell.

Spread the word

There are many different ways to sell your car, not just privately. A service like Wizzle can help you sell your car to thousands of dealers, so if you haven't tried already it might be worth a bash.

For private sale, try some online websites like Gumtree or eBay. You could also try an advert in your local paper.

Social media is a great free tool at your disposal too. There are loads of ‘For Sale’ groups on Facebook, so look for one in your local area and post your car on there. For example, you could search ‘For Sale in Hampshire’ and request to join any groups that might be useful.

Also, you can post your advert as a normal status update and ask your friends to share. This helps to spread the word fast, and can work really well. More Facebook selling tips here.

Make sure your advert has all the key information in it:

  • Mileage

  • Make

  • Year of manufacture

  • Colour (or a photo if possible)

  • List of extras

  • Model

  • General info about its condition

  • MOT and service history

  • Your contact details!

Don't forget a good old-fashioned sign in the window as well!

Don’t tell any fibs

Be upfront about any faults or warning lights; it will save a lot of time and headache down the line. According to the Citizens Advice Bureau, problems with used cars account for more than 50,000 complaints a year.

Woman giving a sassy finger wag

Have a good think about the price

Setting the right price is crucial. Uploading your car to Wizzle gives you access to our free handy price guide, which uses trade data to give you an estimate of what your car could be worth to a dealer.

If you do decide to go down the private route, you could take a look in the paper or online to see how much people are asking for similar cars. Valuation tools like the ones on Glass’s Guide, or CAP are super handy too.

Fix any wee problems

It’s definitely worth fixing any simple faults or cleaning up any minor scratches/paintwork damage. If a potential buyer can't see any faults with the car, you’re more likely to get your asking price.

For small scratches, something like T-Cut or Auto Glym Ultra Deep Shine should do the job, but if in doubt just pop along to your usual garage. If you need to find a new one, a website like Checkatrade will help you find reputable, trusted garages in your area.

Funny GIF of a car door falling off

Stay safe

Ideally try to have someone with you when the prospective buyer comes to look at your car. Check the buyer has a valid drivers licence, and that they are who they say they are.

You should always offer a test drive, but make sure the potential buyer is covered by either their insurance or yours. RAC offers one day test drive insurance, or you could contact your current provider for more information. If it’s safe for you to do so, accompany them on the test drive, or ask someone to go in your place. Don’t leave the buyer alone in the car with your keys.

Action Fraud has more information on protecting yourself from fraudulent buyers.

MOT and service history

Ultimately the most important thing to buyers is that the car is well-maintained, reliable, and doesn’t come with any major baggage. Hmm…I feel like there’s a dating comparison to be drawn somewhere here…

Woman giving a silly wink

You should aim to have at least three months’ MOT, as this will give the buyer a basic overview of the car’s condition, and make your asking price a lot more achievable. Similarly, your car will look more attractive to a prospective buyer if you’re able to provide a full service history.

Sign on the dotted line

Write two copies of a receipt that says, ‘sold as seen, tried and approved without guarantee’- one for the buyer and one for you to keep. Other important information to include on the receipt is the date, price, reg number, make and model, and the addresses of both you and the buyer. You should also draw up a contract (the AA has a sample one you can use, so you don’t need to worry about writing one yourself!)

Bank transfer is the safest way to accept payment, but make sure the money is in your account before you hand over the keys. If you accept cash, it’s safest to meet the buyer at your bank, so that the money can be checked and put in your account straight away.


Sorry to mention the dreaded yawn-inducing ‘P’ word, but it’s essential. Make sure you fill out the relevant portion of your logbook (the tear-off slip at the bottom of the V5C), and send to the DVLA at the address given. Give the rest of the V5C to the buyer. If you've lost your V5C, here's how to apply for a replacement.

The buyer will also need:

  • All sets of keys

  • The car’s handbook

  • Service logbook (including receipts)

  • Current MOT certificate

  • Old MOT certificates and receipts (if selling with full service history)

Simpsons character holding up car documents

Pay off your outstanding finance

Remember, you can’t sell a car with outstanding finance, so you’ll need to contact your finance company and ask for the settlement figure. This is the amount they will need in order for your debt to be paid off in full, and they may add early repayment and admin fees on top of that.

Stand firm

If you're confident in the price you're asking for, don't settle or let yourself be haggled down. There are all sorts of things people may say to try to knock you down on price (eg. "I'm going to have to replace the tyres"), but just make sure you have the answers to any questions they may have about the car, as well as some positive selling points to mention.

It’s worth bearing in mind that prospective buyers may be using a buyer's checklist like his one. Familiarise yourself with it so you’re completely prepared and have everything you need to hand on the day.

Woman saying 'bring it on'

Good luck, you got this!