Should You Sell Your Car Privately?

13th Sep 2022

By Edward Cook

To sell, or not to sell privately?

You've racked up the miles completing school runs, commutes to work and road trips and have decided that it's time to part ways with your current car. But you may be wondering how to sell your car.

Whether you're looking to replace or part exchange it for a new or used car, or just fancy selling it for good, there are a number of ways to sell your car. We're going to take a look at the details of doing it yourself, to help you decide whether you should sell your car privately.

How to sell a car privately

Dashboard Clean

Preparing the car for sale

The first thing you'll need to do in order to sell your car privately is prepare it for sale. This includes ensuring the car is in good working order as well as giving the car a thorough wash. You should also gather up all of the documentation at this stage; if you're missing any paperwork, such as the log book, this gives you time to order a replacement. Once it's ready for sale, it's time to work out how much your car is worth.

Deciding a price

One way to do so is by receiving a free online valuation, but it may be worth completing your own research too. Look at cars of the same make and model that are of a similar age/mileage to yours and decide on a competitive price. Remember that car dealerships tend to price their cars higher than those selling privately as they can offer warranties and other services.


Woman on Laptop on Desk

Creating an advert

Decided on a price? Now to get your car in front of potential buyers. Social media and online platforms are great ways of generating interest in your motor. You'll need some high-quality photographs and a detailed description of the car including the mileage, service/MOT history and any previous work done to the car.

Arranging viewings

Potential buyers will no doubt want to see the car before purchasing it, so you'll need to arrange a convenient time for them to come and see it. They may also request further details to check the car hasn't been stolen or involved in any accidents that you haven't declared.

If you're happy for them to take the car for a test drive, ensure both parties have the necessary tax/insurance to legally do so. If not, offer to take them for a drive to prove the car is in good working condition.


Man and Woman Shaking Hands

Agreeing on a price

Time to negotiate. If you've completed the recommended steps beforehand then your car should already be well-priced, but it's worth having a minimum figure in your head that you'd be willing to accept as potential buyers will try to get the best value for their money.

If they offer below the advertised price you may want to consider dropping the asking price slightly in order to strike a deal. Be confident and don't feel pressured into selling the car if the price isn't right.

Completing the sale

Once a price has been agreed, you'll need to complete the relevant paperwork in order to officially confirm the sale. Ensure the funds have been paid into your account before you transfer ownership or hand over the keys.

Both parties will need to complete and sign a receipt of sale (templates can be found online) which details information such as the car's mileage, agreed price and a 'sold as seen, without guarantee' note. The DVLA will also need to be informed of the change of ownership, you can do this online or by sending off the V5 registration document.

Is a private sale right for me?

Man Inspecting Car

Now that you're familiar with the process of selling your car privately, you'll want to weigh up the advantages and disadvantages of doing so. We've highlighted both sides of the argument to help you decide if it's the right method of sale.

Pros of privately selling your car

  • You can sometimes get more money than if you were to sell it direct to a dealership or company.
  • It's sometimes easier to find a buyer for rare and classic cars when selling privately, as some dealerships may not be interested in these types of cars.
  • Private buyers may be more interested in any modifications made to your vehicle.

Cons of privately selling your car

  • You'll have to do all the (often time-consuming) work to prepare, advertise and sell your car.
  • Cars cannot be sold privately if there's outstanding finance - you'll need to clear the remaining balance with the finance company before attempting to sell your car privately.
  • You may not be comfortable with strangers entering your home.
  • Price negotiation is almost inevitable and can be a tedious process.
  • Transferring funds can be a hassle, leaving you vulnerable to scams and theft - if it doesn't feel right, 'walk away'.
  • You may be sued if something goes wrong with the car post-purchase; ensure you're honest with the other party at all times regarding the working condition of the car and put a 'sold as seen, without guarantee' note into the signed sale receipt.

Get the most from your private sale

Car Service Book and Keys

One of the main advantages to privately selling a car is the opportunity to maximise the money you can get. Keeping a record of all maintenance throughout the car's life is one way of doing so, as this shows the car has been well looked after, making it more attractive to potential buyers.

Ensuring you're transparent and honest with other parties is also important; let them know of any imperfections or damage before they come to view the car. This way, there'll be less room for the buyer to negotiate a drop in the price due to repair costs or undeclared defects.

If you're selling a rare or classic car you may have more success if you get in touch with local car clubs and communities dedicated to that make or model.

Alternatives to selling your car privately

Row of Cars

Selling a car privately can often demand a lot of work and patience, leaving many searching for more convenient alternatives. If you're looking to replace the car, you may want to consider a part exchange and use your current car's value towards the replacement. Dealerships can also offer deals when part exchanging, such as loyalty bonuses and scrappage schemes.

Unsure on what you're going to do after selling, or are certain you don't want a replacement? Selling your car direct to a dealership or car buying service may be a suitable option for you.

If you have outstanding finance on your car the dealership may also be able to clear the outstanding finance and take it off the sale price, leaving you with any remaining equity. This method is hassle-free, saving you a lot of time compared to a private sale.

Is it time to sell your car?

You should now understand the process behind selling a car privately, and the advantages and disadvantages of doing so. If you've got the time and are in no rush to sell your car, then a private sale is a great way of maximising the amount of money you'll get.

At Evans Halshaw we offer a safe and secure Sell Your Car service if you're looking for a more convenient way of parting ways with your car. We will buy your car regardless of its condition and pay the money into your bank account within three working days.

Already got your eyes on another car? Let us help you maximise the value of your car in a time-efficient manner with a part exchange.