Selling Privately

Selling a car Privately

In Your wisdom you will have many different reasons for selling your car privately.   You are trading up or down,  Dealer is mugging you on the part-ex,  baby on the way etc.   What you really need to know is can it be done  safely and can you sell your car without getting your time wasted.   My answer to both these questions is yes and here’s why.

It pains me to read the amount of car buying guides that imply humanity has turned in on itself and that the world is crawling with robbers who lie in wait to grift you out of your car. Of course there are some dodgy characters out there but the majority of people you encounter as in most walks of life will be genuine and honest.

If you do your homework and price your car correctly.   If you spent some time (or a little money) and have your car clean and awaiting presentation,   if you think out your advertisement and list a properly descriptive and honest description then your car will sell pretty easily.

Valuing your car:  Here is how to value your car.   Get a pen and paper write down your exact make/model and Specific derivation.   If you have a 1.9 tdi is it the 105bhp or 130 bhp or if its a gti or vxi etc.   Then write down its year and plate and mileage.   So you have your exact car written down in front of you.  You now want to spent ten minutes on the web you will need : : .   Another site I find handy is as it seems to trawl information from other sites. is fine but they have recently re-engineered their site to make it “user friendly” and I personally find it time-consuming but as a source of Info it is fine.


Anyway I am over egging the pudding here, a few minutes on one or two of these sites will find many examples of what you are selling and give you a good indication of the market price.    As always there will be some cars advertised very expensively by dreamers,  you can scratch them off.   There will be some cars advertised impossibly low, these will either be a bit dodgy (no history or mileage verification or on an insurance register) and these can be scratched off the list also.  By comparing your car against similiar exact models  You should  be able to see the average price for your car.    If your car has a desirable colour combination or value adding extra like Leather, then try to see how much extra you should ask for this premium.

Once you have the bottom line, it is your decision what price you want to ask for it. Ultimately you are not Tesco, and you don’t have to price match, but you would like to sell the car.  If you are not under pressure to sell in a hurry and feel that your car is a particularly good example then price is not always the bottom line and someone may pay the extra for such a good car.  If on the other hand you want the phone to hop,  then price it competitively to sell it quickly.  Bottom line there’s an arse for every seat if you are not getting any calls it’s too dear.


That is the best way to price your car. There are other ways to value a car that people will want to know about so I’ll go through them as briefly as I can.  Parkers(and some others) have a car pricing widget on their website which is handy for a guideline  (the free one, don’t pay for anything).  You can also buy their price guide from the newsagent if you want to. But I don’t know why?  99.8% of its content is of no use to you and if you play the game as prescribed above you don’t need it.


A lot of people are fixated on “book value” and want to know the “book value” of their car because the book is bible!   The book is bible and like the bible there are many different versions of it.  I think at last count there were about seven different publications out there trying to make a living out of car pricing.   There are only two actual guides worth consulting they are Cap Black Book and Glass Guide both are long established professionally compiled valuation tools.   They crunch as much data through the diagnostics as is possible to obtain and analyse  to come up with their prices. And yet they both disagree, sometimes significantly on car prices.

The book is what it is,  It is a guide.  It is something I pop into my back pocket when I go to auction,  and hope that if ever there is an assassination attempt on me they try to shoot me in the right buttock as it is thick enough to stop a bullet.   I use the guide as a reference tool.   There are so many different models at the moment that I may come across say a car in a 1.4 but didn’t know they did the GTLXi in the 1.4.  “I wonder if thats better news than the 1.6?”  I consult the guide, and see that actually the 1.4 averages £500 behind the 1.6 so now I know where I stand.   There are some “helpful” websites that will get you a valuation for £3-£5  its not much money but give it to charity rather than throw it away.   The book neither buys or sells cars it’s a traders tool.  Follow the guidelines above to get the market price of your car.



Like Gold buyers there is now a proliferation of companies offering to buy your car for cash.   There is a famous one that you can use to value your car , but if you Google it you will find about five or more similar companies.   Try them all, I can’t recommend one over another but I have sold cars this way.  Not for top market money but for a price I’ve been happy with.    Sometimes the prices surprise you and you think “might as well I won’t get much more advertising it” .   One of the better companies will give you valuation based on your description on the telephone.  If you agree a price they send a man with a transporter and if he’s happy with the car they will transfer the funds immediately into your account and take your car away then.   The advantage of someone coming to you, apart from saving you time is that you can feel free to let them drive off empty handed if you don’t agree.

Like I say I have used them, I’ve given an honest description and got them to come to me and there’s been no haggle.   This may well not be the way you want to sell your car but you can  use it as a marker bid.   If you have looked around and decided your car is worth advertising for £10,000 you can at least have a banker bid from a car buying company of £9000 . It will give you the confidence  to say no to people who are bidding you far less than you want for your car.


Okay so you are ready to advertise your car where do you put it?   This is my opinion only But I would advertise a car in the autotrader,  it’s the biggest shop window out there.   I would consider eBay it’s a good place to get exposure.  You don’t have to do an auction you can do a simple classified listing.  Its  main advantage is you have lots of space to give a car a thorough listing.   You can list your car on for free but as the name would suggest it’s not the place to sell a basic repmobile.   You should also take out a free ad in Gumtree.   Once your car is on the web, other sites will pick your ad up for free.  They are not great but any traffic being driven to your ad is good.   There are a couple of slick looking sites that offer to list your car to the trade etc, they are not scams but why would you pay to niche advertise your car ?

If any third part contacts you ,  offering to sell or advertise your car for a fee put down the phone or put them on standby for an hour.   This is just my disclaimer,  personally I have never come across any of these so called canvassers but apparently they do exist and if approached its always no .


Your Ad should clearly list the make, model, spec, mileage and Price.  A brief honest description.   List any extras above what it should have (leather,satnav etc).   It is tempting to hide the mileage if it’s been to mars and back,   breaking the news gently to buyers when they ring .  Don’t do this,  mileage is probably the first thing you should list. Don’t list all the cars spec if it’s standard.   A buyer will have done their homework and know what the car should have.   It amazes me how many times I see people listing extras like central locking and power steering?   Where are we 1978?


Now your car is advertised and is suitably prepared so you can show it to a potential customer.   You start to get calls.   You should be able to give clear answers to any of the usual questions about ownership, servicing, condition etc.  If you feel it to be true, then let buyers know it’s a good car that they should consider coming to see.   A genuine buyer will get all your details and arrange to come and view.   If you get people on the phone asking for your best price or bidding you without even seeing the car they are more likely than not dreamers or window shoppers and you can laugh them off politely.


I don’t encourage test drives;  I look after my cars so I am not going to hand over the keys to some stranger to have a go.  You don’t have to do anything you are uncomfortable with.  Only when I have established who I am dealing with, and they have checked the car and have shown me that they are genuine, then will I allow a test drive. And only after getting proof of insurance and driving license.  If I am not happy with the seriousness of the buyer I may offer to take them for a drive but that’s it.  This is particularly true of a performance car that someone fancies a go in.   Now a lot of people will disagree with this and feel that a test drive is important.  I agree with this statement I just think it’s in your interest to make it clear to people that you are fussy about your car and won’t be handing out test drives without due diligence .  It makes you look like you care for your car and eliminates some of the messers that just want to drop in and have a browse.  My opinion that’s all !


Agreeing a price can be straightforward.  You have opened the engagement by listing the car at an advertised price .   The buyer knows what you want for your car.    As in all negotiations you should have all the figures done in your head beforehand of what you are happy to accept.   And if you have received a trade buyer price as outlined earlier, you have the backup of knowing the cars bottom line value.   So it’s up to the potential buyer to offer a price,  They can bid you a figure or ask you “what will you take ?”.   You can let them know that you are looking for a price close to the asking price, but are open to offers.

Ultimately if somebody wants to buy the car they will do the running.  There are many haggling techniques and after years of training salespeople I know it’s not something you can learn easily.  For this reason you should try to avoid engaging in a haggle on the side of the road.   You may get the odd horse trader but most people are just looking for a few pound off for goodwill.   If you are asking £10000 and they ask “will you take £9500?” you could return “I’m sorry I couldn’t accept that, I have already had similar offers” you don’t have to lie about having people on their way to see the car but you can let it be known that there is other interest.   With some fair give and take you should be able to reach common ground that both parties are happy with.


Regarding safety I am not going to negate my earlier sentiment.   I read in a buying guide recently that “for every genuine buyer out there, there’s another ten that just want to clone your cars identity”  Jesus wept, how do some people leave the house ?   Most of these scaremongers are trying to frighten you to buy something.  Common sense applies.  If I have had phone conversations with somebody, who subsequently travels a long way to see me and brings their family in tow then I would feel very comfortable letting them look over the car while I go and make them a cup of tea.   I would feel less inclined to do this if four young lads turned up in a blacked out Golf gti!(sorry guys).   It goes without saying that if you are selling a performance car your security barriers should be higher.   However if you run one of these car you are already well aware of the sort of attention they can draw.


Payment for a car is on your terms.   If it’s not a huge amount cash is fine (there’s still some out there !)  These days bank transfer is the most efficient way to complete a deal and I prefer this method.   A cheque is fine by me but you don’t get the car till it’s cleared obviously.   A bank draft should not be considered as cash anymore and if you are getting a draft you should arrange with the buyer to present the draft at your local bank before they drive away.


This is a broad Guide that tries to cover cars being bought and sold in the real world. Specialist cars deserve specialist attention and I hope to get up some buying and selling guides to sports, performance and classic cars in due course.

In the meantime I hope this has been a help to you and as Usual your comments are always welcome


Sell,Sell,Sell !