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4 Tips for Selling a Used Car

tips-selling-used-car

We all want to get the best price for our used car and the difference between several hundreds of pounds on your desired sale price depends on the steps you take when preparing your car for sale. Whether you intend to take your car to a dealer for a part exchange or trade in price, or intend to sell privately, the theory is the same and relies on some basic marketing skills that we can all put into practice.

Present It Well

Appearances are everything. Your car may have just had a cam belt change, have a full service history and a new set of tyres, but a scruffy interior or faded paintwork will scream ‘I’m not looked after.’ Don’t assume that a buyer will see the potential underneath the grime. It may be that a good valet with wax is all your car needs, but if your car has been the transportation for your family, especially if you have young children, take some time to give the interior a really good tidy up and don’t neglectthe boot. If you take your car for a wash and valet, ask them to give the engine a clean too, it will help when your buyer wants to take a look under the bonnet.

Get Inside Information

If you intend to take your car to a dealership, take a look at their website to see what price they are selling vehicles similar to yours at. Check out the dealership’s customer reviews to see what experiences others have had with them. Know that selling to a dealer is almost certainly going to mean a lower selling price than privately, but if freeing up the cash quickly is important, you avoid all the hassle of a potentially long awaited private sale.

Be A Marketing Genius

If you decide to list your car for sale on one of the numerous online auction sites, you need to take a few lessons in how to market a product. Consider where you take your photos – on a busy street, in front of an untidy property or peeling garage door will look unprofessional. Take your vehicle to an empty car park or borrow a friend’s pretty driveway to position your car for photos. Choose a nice sunny day and take plenty of photos showing all angles and the interior as well as an engine shot. When you list your car for sale, ensure you enter lots of information.

View your ad through the eyes of a buyer – have you told them everything they need to know? Does the font and layout look professional and trustworthy?

Timing Is Everything

We humans have predictable patterns of buying. Trying to sell a convertible at the start of winter is not going to bring you as much success as selling it at the start of spring, 4X4’s sell far better in autumn and winter, fuel guzzling large engine vehicle sales take a dip after a petrol price hike. Consider whether your vehicle would benefit from a better sale during a particular season or economic climate and play up to that advantage in your ad.

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Hayley

Hayley is a fully fledged pistonhead. She regularly writes about motoring across a variety of niches, including vehicle servicing, road safety and auto reviews. She specialises in Mercedes-Benz.

118 Comments

  1. Anyone who finds these “tips” to be new & useful information rather than blindingly obvious shouldn’t really be allowed in charge of a motor vehicle 😉

    1. The “base-line” is keep your car has a regular “service” so it doesn’t make a “racket” when you “drive” it If you “love” your car and look after it, then you will “score” a good deal when you come to sell it

  2. Thanks for the tips and help. We will be looking to sell my son’s car before he goes off to Uni so this has come at just the right time.

  3. Currently trying to sell a car…..without much success and have considered all of these tips, hopefully it will go soon!

  4. I actually made a profit from my first car just by giving it a thorough valeting myself. When I bought it, it had moss growing in the windows & the leather seats needed a good treatment. I bought it for £200, which in 1977 was a fair amount of money as I only earned £70 a month. I then sold it for £250 so a 20% profit although it cost me next to nothing to tidy it up

  5. You should clean the inside of you car including the boot. Give it a good spray with deodorant and it make an amazing difference.

  6. all good tips, my main one has always been to present it spotlessly clean and polished, a clean polished car really does look much more appealing!

  7. I’ve always smartened my car up inside and out. But I think you should always be hones with what faults it has.

  8. I’d say make sure you completely clean your car inside and out so the buyer has the best impression

  9. Always knew that soft tops were seasonal, never really considered other cars would. Blooming obvious really :\

  10. I’ve never had to sell a car, mine have always been so old I’ve been the last stop before the scrapyard! But although the suggestions in your article may seem obvious to some, its amazing how many sellers don’t do all this ‘obvious’ stuff!

  11. Dreading trying to sell my car or at least trade it in eventually- the kids have wrecked the inside! my bad!! someone else has commented with ‘frebreeze’ will need more than just frebreeze for my car! lol Great tips! 🙂

  12. we will be needing a new car in the very near future but i’ve got a feeling we wont get our old one to sell, it’s in too bad a shape 🙁

  13. Interesting article with some great advice.. i’ve not yet tried to sell a used car but i will bear this in mind. I think you’ve either got the knack for a good price or you haven’t!

  14. I am just about to sell my car and these tips and advice will come in very useful as you never know who you are dealing with

  15. Well, very usefull tips as I’m going to sell my old car – of course I agree that the way you’ll present your car is the most important thing in order to make the potencial buyers to all in love with it and to think about it as a great bargain…

  16. This will really help me out im about to put my car up for sale and really dont have a clue where to start as ive always just traded in so any tips are great thanks

  17. I have lots of experience selling on used cars. I have learnt that timing is crucial to get the maximum value for the vehicle. I have also sold motorbikes and timing is just as important as bikes tend to sell quicker and at a premium at the beginning of the summer. I’ve always checked out the average selling price before hand, I always want to be competitive. An remember loads of photos, it frustrating to a buyer and suggests you could be hiding something. It helps with being open and honest.

  18. This is interesting and has some really useful tips. I hadn’t really thought so much about the photos I take when selling my car. Makes so much sense to choose a sunny day and I will always make sure I park my car in an empty car park without any distractions in the background of the photo! Thanks 🙂 I’ve also entered your competition x

  19. Good tips i agree with the seasonal advice, don’t try and sell your car just around the Christmas period as people are too busy!

  20. This is pretty useful as I’m looking to sell my old car to help pay towards a new one.
    Don’t want to part ex because they rip you off so I’ll get as much as I can for it this way.

  21. I always find a clean and nice smelling car much more appealing, if I was to sell my car i’d be sure to give it a good clean 🙂

  22. its the smallest things that make the biggest difference, make sure your car smells nice and is washed!!

  23. As someone who has recently purchased a 2nd hand car I have to say be honest! There is nothing worse than getting to where the car is only to fed it is actually a shed minus 3 wheels, 2 doors and a steering wheel!

  24. A clean and tidy car is a must for me. I would never purchase a car if it was not those things, an instant put off. So the advice in this article is important for anyone considering selling their motor.

  25. Good tips, mostly common sense but yes definately a thorough clean and keep its melling fresh until it’s gone! definately helps! No one wants to buy a smelly old thing!! 😉

  26. It is really important to present your car well, I paid £15 for a basic valet before I part ex’d my car at the garage and I got over £2K more than I expected !! I was over the moon – it’s worth paying a penny to gain a pound so to speak ! x

  27. Good advice! I have always sold my cars privately rather than traded them in – much better price! Always remember the golden rule though – dont hand them the keys for a test drive alone! Go with them

  28. We were offered £50 for our car by a company that advertises on the TV. Sold it privately for £700. My advice is avoid those cheapskate TV advertisers.

  29. I have bought 3 used cars for cash in my ten years of driving (one most recently) I really think as well as those tips above you need to use your instinct and make some generalisations (as bad as that may be) on what the person who has owned the car is like. It’s bad, but when buying a car I’d trust a man with grandchildren selling a car with low miles ten times over a 25 year old mechanic!! Bad but true!

  30. Take the Car for a Full Valet, It may seem costly but it may bag you that deal and may make a difference in the final selling price.

  31. Some good tips and as others have said they are really common sense but then the best advice usually is. I have found that presentation is very important and a quick clean inside and out has always helped me sell cars in the past I feel.

  32. excellent tips. the main thing is if you convince the buyer to imagine themselves as the owners and there you go…..SOLD! oh and febreeze it. no one wants a stinking car lol

  33. If you are a smoker or have pets that regularly travel in your car, get someone else to come and give it a good sniff before you have buyers over to view it. You might not be able to smell anything untoward if you’re used to it but your car might still smell of stale smoke etc which will put buyers off. You can actually get air fresheners/sprays that simulate that “new car smell”. Psychologically, a car that smells new (even if it isn’t) is more likely to sell for a higher price.

  34. These are fab tips for a new driver selling there first car or for anyone who hasnt sold a car,i always left to my husband to sell the cars alas he no longer with me so i will be selling my car nxt year and will come back to this blog as i have favourited it.

  35. I wish everyone was honest when selling their cars we got a second hand one the broke down on our first long journey as it hadn’t been serviced properly.

  36. I find everyone wants to sell near xmas, as they need ect money. So it is a good time to look for a bargain. Remember dont buy the 1st car you look at always shop around.

  37. Thanks; this will be the first car i have ever had to sell, so the points are useful and timely for a newbie like me!

  38. Thankyou, were currently selling our car & willl be tryig out some of these tips…wish us luck !

  39. When my parents were selling their car, we found where they lived a negative. They live in a sparsely populated area out in the sticks and weren’t getting much interest. We decided to sell the car from my house (I live in a densely populated town), and hey presto – sold that weekend! 🙂

  40. My daughter is about to put her car up for sale, hopefully by following these tips she will make a quick sale!

  41. In recent years, I have always sold my car to a garage or second hand dealership. Being a single woman I know that I am going to get a reasonable deal and not feel intimidated. Having tried to sell my car privately as a teenager, I remember being scared shitless whilst accompanying a ‘Stig Impersonator’ on a test drive of my sporty Ford Escort (remember them ahhh!) Anyway I do have the car professionally valeted before offering her to the garage which helps with price negotiation and you get the cheque or cash immediately. Job done! x

  42. Cleaning and presenting it well will always help, as will a full service history.

    Get some quotes from companies that guarantee to buy any car. They never offer a good price so you will know that you shold be asking for more than that figure.

    Be very careful if somebody wants to take it for a test drive.Make sure they have adeqaute insurance. Not all policies cover driving other cars and if it does it is alomst certainly restricted to Third Party cover. this means if they have an accident the damage to your car is not going to be insured.

  43. Just the small things help, like making sure it is clean on the outside and inside. It always help to have a nice smell, so invest in a car airfreshener, you can get one for less than £1

  44. I started reading this just to enter the comp, however I found it so interesting and useful, and I know they should be obvious things you would do, there are things i definately woul’nt if I had not read this article so thank you for the useful tips.

  45. all pretty much common sense.

    I get a ‘New Car’ air freshener to make it smell nice ….and getting rid of the west ham stickers generally helps the cause too!! 😉

  46. Its quite ironic to be directed to this page. We have been umming and arrng about selling our car. Its nothing special but have found some useful tips here. I have made it look presentable but did not think about selling in paticular seasons etc. I agree with an above poster, i would love to see your tips on buyinga used car. In paticular ways of getting a better deal. Thankyou for this fantastic and insightful information x

  47. Thanks for this article. I am currently trying to buy a larger family car and having a lot of trouble.

  48. You know I have never ever took it into consideration about environmental factors when trying to sell a vehicle.. .but when you think about it, it really does make sense… I have always only made the car look appealing to potential buyers.. so great advice

  49. Good tips. I don’t know how many used cars I’ve sold as I seem to limp from low value car to low value car. I hate selling mine though. Never know what to ask and as I am not mechanically minded I wouldn’t know what if anything was wrong with it. It either drives or it doesnt

  50. I agree that timing is important as with anything people sell,it’s always better to try and sell a car after Christmas so avoid the months leading upto it when people are really strapped for cash unless you are selling it for an absolute can not miss bargain!x

  51. Use commission free selling sites like Gumtree etc. (I don’t work for them).
    And add NO CANVASSERS to stop commission hungry pay for sites calling you up at all hours.

  52. Fab tips!! In this current climate lots of people are trying to sell cars to get extra cash and its really handy to have these decent and honest tips to help people out! Fab advice xx

  53. Great tips! I’m selling my car soon (much to my regret) and I’m going to ensure I advertise it in the right place – such as a forum for people who own/love the model and really want to buy it, hopefully then I’ll get the best price! 🙂

  54. The tips are pretty much common sense to most whi have already gone through selling their car. However, those new to doing to, could benefit from these tips

  55. I know its pointing out the obvious but my top tips would be to clean it inside and out – some good old fashioned elbow grease and a nice air freshner

  56. clean and tidy the car, make sure you have a full mot and six months tax, and make sure the spare tyre is good so many cars bought with a rubbish spare

  57. I need all the tips I can get, our poor car has been run into the ground but I hold hope after reading this x

  58. When you are looking to buy a car take someone who knows a little bit about them so they can ask the right questions.

  59. never had to sell a car before, but i understand there are lots of websites you can use now, also i’m sure that the local paper has a used car section so probably would have a sell section too, always check with the local garages as well, as i’m sure they buy from peopel,

  60. Fabulous tips. There’s nothing worse than people who list their cars to sell and they’ve taken poor pictures and have poor descriptions. Best of all, the people to take pics of the cars in the dark!!!

  61. Useful tips – i know as a buyer photo’s are so important so it’s a good idea to take the time and effort to make them as clear and accurate as possible – unless the car you’re trying to sell is a complete banger! 🙂

  62. Good commons sense tips. I have found that the Internet allows you to get some great market research on the car you are selling so you can see exactly how the same model and reg year has sold recently and in what areas and the Web also allows you to get your car in front of a huge audience of potential buyers.

  63. My local garage tell me that there is market for older cars even with a high mileage. The crucial factors in keeping it roadworthy and saleable are to :a) have it regularly cleaned b) have it regularly serviced
    at the correct intervals

  64. My tips are to always buy a car which has a full service history but the makers as this enables you to sell your car quicker

  65. Really good tips. WE also use freebez to keep the car nice and fresh which in the long run saves having to give the car a really big clean when you come to sell it.

  66. I find that having a car with low mot and tax left is hard to sell so its worth paying for the tax and mot then people know they have a car for a year.

  67. I find eBay is brilliant for selling cars with or without MOT, infact I’ve sold a couple of my non runners/ bangors on there to very pleased people who felt like they got a bargain, but I got more than the scrap man offered!! 😀