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Serious Advice On How to Sell Your Used Car Privately

Selling your used car privately should not be stressful. We understand a lot of people are apprehensive about under taking this. We have put together a guide to help you through from start to finish.

Prepare your Used Car.

This is the most important part of the used car sales process. Many experts believe that just by valeting your used car you can add hundreds of £££’s to the vehicles value.

That is why we highly recommend that you have your vehicle professionally valeted before it is made available for viewing to potential buyers. We have partnered with your local valeters to bring you some great deals on car valeting.

Stone chips put buyers off used cars. They look terrible, and obviously expose the bare metal and are prone to rust. This all adds up to potential future problems in the buyers mind. These can be easily rectified for a tiny cost. Purchase a touch up stick from your local auto specialist, take the used car down with you so they can check that the color codes match, and do the touching up yourself. BEWARE: A steady hand is required.

Mechanically you should do some basic checks on the used car. Checking the oil and water levels is essential. Even if your buyer has not got a clue what is under the bonnet and what to look for, they will ask to see the engine. (For no other reason than it is what is expected from someone who does know what they are talking about)

We would recommend that it might work out more economical to actually have a basic oil and filter change service. These can be obtained for under £100, and will give your buyer more confidence in the used car. If the Mot is due within 3 months it may also be advisable to re-MOT the car. Again a full year MOT is a very desirable aspect of any vehicle. It also says to the buyer the used car is mechanically sound.

Wording your advert

Many used car sellers over time have got this wrong, and then wondered why the phone is not ringing. Below are some basic steps to carry out to ensure that your advert is spot on.

However as long as you remain sensible, buying a used car privately can have you on the road for a substantial saving. But be aware.

*Level of trim: Be specific. If you have a Fiesta Zetec 1.4 5dr make sure you include all of these in your advert.

*Include the mileage, especially if it is low mileage. Do not guess this, go and check the Speedo.

*Colour: Try to be helpful to your potential buyers. They will not know the difference between moondust silver (Silver) and Oyster silver (Pale Gold) Metallic silver will mean a lot more to everyone. ( Having a picture uploaded will solve this problem)

*Tax and MOT: These are things almost every buyer looks at. Use the exact dates.

*Service History: Do not lie about this. If it has full service history (FSH) put it in the advert. (You can even mention if it is main dealer service history) However, if all you have retained is a few receipts for small items, don’t mention it.

*Owners: Check the V5 document. Again make sure you have your facts right. Nothing will lose you customers more than lying in your advert, whether it is intentional or not.

*Features: This is your opportunity to tell everyone what is so great about your used car. List things such as Air conditioning, Alloy wheels, electric windows, etc. Time should be taken on this to make sure you include all the good things about your used car.

*Price: This really is important. To high the phone will not ring. Too low the phone will ring-lots-and you will be out of pocket. To help you get this right recommends you only price your car after extensive research. You can get an idea of the price you might expect to achieve in a dealer part-exchange situation on Glass’s Motoring Guide. However, you must take into account that buyers will want to negotiate. Remember you can always come down; you can never go up in price (Unless you own a super rare Ferrari of course) When pricing your used car do not look at dealer forecourts. You are not offering the service and guarantees they are, so have no chance of obtaining that price.

Some free resources are:

*Going to a dealer to get a trade in value. It may be advisable to get 2 or 3 as they may differ slightly. Anything you get over and above this price should be deemed as profit.
*Photograph: Include a co lour photograph of your car. This will be one of the biggest selling features of your advert.


This is without doubt what sellers are most apprehensive about: Dealing with used car buyers. It always seems as if the buyer is in control and has the power because you really want to sell the used car. In our experience it really doesn’t have to be this way at all. As long as you know what to expect you should not be caught out.

*Test Drives: Please, please do not let them take the car out alone. They may not come back. It sounds obvious, but this catches a lot of people out each year.

Ensure that they have adequate insurance cover to drive your car; you may end up with a big bill if an accident occurs and they have not.

Decide on a test drive route with the buyer before you leave. Let them choose it but make sure someone at home knows where you are going. Just in case. Never ever leave the keys in the ignition when swapping seats. Criminals work hard to engineer this situation and it has been the end to several very good salesmen’s careers.

*Professional Inspections: Gone are the days of being able to lift the bonnet and diagnose a used car’s potential problems. Most modern engines are covered and difficult to see without use of a ramp, and professional equipment. This has lead to an increase in professional inspections. Do not worry about these. However a few things to note are: If someone wants to have one carried out they are probably a serious buyer: these inspections are not cheap. However it may mean putting off another buyer while this is all organized, as they can take a few days to get sorted. With this in mind do not be afraid to take a deposit off of the buyer to hold the car for them

*Negotiation: This is an integral part of any sale. Don’t shy away from it. Be confident, but not overpowering, as this will turn customers away. Remember that you need to have a price you are willing to let the vehicle go for in advance. Keep this price at the front of your mind, and use it to come to a Win-Win situation with your used car buyer. (IE a price that is good for you both)

You must avoid being inflexible. Never refuse to take offers, and never let a sale go for the sake of £50; the re-advertising costs and time scale will just make it uneconomical to do so.

Getting Paid

This can be the most difficult part of the transaction. Ideally get paid in cash. If it is a lot of money have the buyer meet you at your bank and pay it straight into your account. This way the bank can check for forgeries on your behave.

Getting paid by personal cheque is a little more complicated. You will need to pay the cheque into your account and wait for funds to be cleared. Never release the vehicle before you have cleared funds, it is too easy to stop a cheque, or it may “bounce”

Another option is to receive the money via a banker’s draft, or building society cheque. These are cleared funds. However there are some things to watch out for here as well.

1. Fake bankers drafts are a criminal’s favorite. We are not just talking about a completely fake draft, but ones with the amount ” amended” as well. It is a little known fact that you can contact the bank that the draft was issued at and they will confirm that the draft has been issued and the amount for. *
2. Also it is recommended that you take a copy of the buyers Identification. A copy of their photo driving license is great. If the buyer is reluctant to give this then be very wary.

*Not all banks offer this service.

Finally you should write out a receipt for both yourself and the buyer stating that the used car has been sold, and the amount for.