Save, make, understand money


A practical guide to selling your car

Paloma Kubiak
Written By:
Paloma Kubiak

It’s March and with the arrival of new car registrations, many people will be looking to sell their current motor to get a brand new car in its place. Here are some top tips on how to get your car sale ready.

Spend money to make money

You wouldn’t sell your home without investing a little time and money in order to achieve the best price, and selling a car is no different. Your car needs to be in the best possible condition for you to make the most money.

Repairing body dents and scratches will improve the overall aesthetic of the car so you don’t instantly turn away potential buyers. You should also deep clean your car’s interior and exterior to remove all dirt and stains to give it an instant refresh.

Price appropriately

Price your car realistically, especially if you want a quick sale. You can get a good idea of what it’s worth by checking ads for similar models but bear in mind you’re seeing ‘asking’ rather than selling prices. You should also account in your margin for haggling – the buyer will try and negotiate a lower price so this means you should still achieve a price close to the amount you want.

Cash or part-exchange?

When part-exchanging your current car for a new one, make sure you know how much your car is worth – which can be done using the AA online car valuation service. Generally speaking, drivers tend to get a better price for their car if they choose to sell it privately, but you must be prepared to pay for advertising, deal with potential buyers and enquiries, plus arrange viewings and test drives.

Car buying services – scam or safe?

If you sell junk car to a car buying service, this can be the easiest way to move it on but you’ll not make as much as if you sell privately or trade it in with a dealer. Initial, online valuations can be misleading and you also need to watch out for any hidden costs, such as transaction fees, which often increase with more expensive vehicles.

Beware of thieves/scammers

Should I sell my junk car to a private buyer or a car buying service? If you sell your car privately, be wary of emails from abroad offering to buy your vehicle without seeing it and offering overseas payments, as these can be scams. You shouldn’t let anyone drive away with your car until you’re satisfied you’ve been paid in full.

If you have been given a cheque, wait for it to clear before handing over the keys. The safest ways to get the money is through a bank transfer or in cash – but consider arranging it to be handled at the bank.

Get relevant documents ready

Most car buyers will expect to see a comprehensive service record so you will need to prepare relevant documents and history to pass on to the next owner – including MOT certificate service records. You’re advised to keep all receipts for work carried out while you owned the car.


Make sure you tell the DVLA when you have sold or transferred your car to someone else. Doing so generates a refund for any full months of remaining tax and avoids the hassle of being chased for the new driver’s parking or speeding fines. The simplest way to do this by going to the DVLA website.

Prepare a buyers/seller’s contract

The final hurdle is signing the contracts. It’s a good idea to draw up a simple document signed by both yourself and the buyer confirming the car details, date and price for the sale.

Tell your insurance company

Don’t forget to tell your insurance company that you are changing your car and the date at which cover for the car you are selling should cease. And don’t drive your next car until you are certain that you are insured to do so.

Simon Benson is director of motoring services at The AA