There are many different ways of selling your car online. Here we'll talk you through the main ones, discussing the pros and cons of each method so that you can make a decision about which one is best for you.
Get your car ready for sale ✨
Traditionally, selling your car has required you to go to great lengths to get it ready for sale. That's still the case with most online methods, but not all of them.
The first rule of preparing your car for sale is to get it clean and tidy. Give it a good wash and a vacuum out, and get rid of any stains on the inside (or indeed the outside) that might put off potential buyers. Remove any odd bits and bobs from inside the glovebox, boot and footwells - make it as you would expect to find it if you were the buyer.
Once the car is clean, you're going to need to take a bunch of photographs of it so you can post it online. The general rule is a minimum of five - one of the front, back, both sides and the interior. But if you really want to show off your car to the buying public, the more the better. Aim for twenty photos and see how far you get. Additional angles could include close-up photos of the wheels, the rear seats, the boot, the engine bay and detail shots any special features like the sat nav screen or leather seats.
To set a fair price you'll have to do some research. Look what other similar cars are being advertised for and compare them to yours, making adjustments and taking into account your car's condition, spec, service history and of course mileage, and you'll need to be priced a little bit below the dealerships too.
All about the details 🧐
All online car advertisements should include details of basic bits like the mileage, the engine size and whether the car is petrol or diesel. Include the next MOT date too. Many sites will pull this information for you after you type in the registration number, which is handy. Make sure it's correct though.
Describing the condition accurately and honestly will go along way to helping you sell your car. If there's any damage or faults, you should mention them clearly in your advert, so as to avoid any confrontation with buyers which only wastes time on both sides.
Choose wisely 🚙
Choosing the site on which to advertise your car is key. Depending on the car's value, you may be better off with the biggest of them all, AutoTrader. However, don't immediately discount smaller competitors such as Gumtree, Motors and eBay classifieds, as you can still reap rewards from these cheaper platforms.
If you've got an enthusiast or classic car, you may wish to consider a more specialist website such as Pistonheads or Car and Classic. On these sites, buyers are looking for rare or special vehicles like BMW M cars and high-performance Hondas.
Pros: The huge audience of presumably in-market buyers are the main advantage of these sites. They are the places where most people go to buy or sell a car privately.
Cons: Waiting for a phonecall or email and arranging viewings can sometimes be a pain in the backside. While some sites are free, some of the bigger players and specialist sites will charge up to £75 to place your advert.
A calculated risk 🤑
Posting your car on an online car auction website is considered risky by some people, but in reality simply placing a reserve on your car - whereby your car won't be sold if it doesn't meet a certain price - will protect you from selling your car too cheaply. Some sites, including eBay, charge extra for this however, and you'll have to pay the reserve fee even if your car doesn't sell.
One way around this is to simply set the auction start price at or around the minimum price you want for the car, but this can discourage bidders.
Pros: You are almost guaranteed to sell your car, providing your reserve or starting bid is low enough.
Cons: If you don't set a reserve, you can't be sure exactly how much you're going to receive for your car. There are usually listing costs and reserve fees too, plus you still might have to arrange viewings for potential bidders.
Just for car geeks? 🧑🔧
Some people think that online car forums are just for boffins and car nerds, but that's not necessarily true. There will be a forum dedicated to every single brand of car you can think of, and sometimes popular models will have their own forum, such as the Fiesta ST Owners Club.
Pros: You're posting your for sale in a place where you know for sure that people are at least a fan of the brand.
Cons: In the forums you're reaching a vastly smaller selection of people, and you will have to spend time creating an account. Some forums may even require you to be a fully fledged member of the club before posting a vehicle for sale, which could mean coughing up a membership fee.
A new way of selling 📱
Social media is a brilliant place for keeping in touch with friends (and finding out what your Auntie had for dinner), but increasingly it is becoming a place to sell your unwanted items too, including cars.
Pros: Facebook Marketplace is booming right now, and it's really easy to post on there which means you have instant and free access to thousands of local potential buyers.
Cons: Because it's so easy to post on Facebook Marketplace, your genuine advert can sometimes be lost in amongst all of the fake listings and spam, as there's a lack of regulation and moderation on the app.
Instant valuations & simple sales processes 🔑
Online car buying services are able to give you an instant car valuation simply by inputting a few details like your car's registration number, mileage and service history. They do this by comparing buying/selling data from thousands of similar cars with yours and returning a value based on that.
Pros: The main advantage of these websites are that you're instantly offered a price online, and from there you can easily arrange to drop it off at a location that's usually fairly local to you. There's no time-wasting viewings, and the paperwork is all taken care of for you. They are definitely quicker, easier and more convenient than any other method of selling your car online.
Cons: The only real disadvantage to selling your car through an online car buying site is that you could possibly get more money by selling your car privately. Car retail-based websites like ours will likely offer you the best price because they aren't looking at auction values to resell - they can prepare the car and put it on retail sale.
Only use secure methods 💳
Taking payment for your second-hand car can be tricky, but the safest way is through an online bank transfer. The "Faster Payments" system means you the buyer can send you the money and you can see it in your account on the same day, so it's about as safe as you can get.
It is not recommended to take actual physical pound notes as these are untraceable and it's unclear where the money may have come from.
Cheques and banker's drafts are okay too, but make sure you have cleared funds in your account before you hand over the keys.
Crossing the i's and dotting the t's ❣️
If you're selling your car privately, you'll need to write up two copies of a receipt to state what has been sold for how much, with a description of the condition as well. Both parties should sign both copies, and you should definitely keep hold of your copy.
Tell the DVLA 💻
The easiest way to notify the DVLA that you've sold your car is online. This lets them know that they need to update the vehicle record and they'll usually issue a tax refund (if applicable) in the next few days. It is also possible to do this by post.
The final piece of the puzzle is to give the V5C/2 section to the buyer, this acts as their proof of keepership until the DVLA post out a new V5C in their name.
It's worth noting that online car buying services will take care of all of this when you drop off your car.
With all this in mind, the result is that if you want to maximise every single pound of your car's value, then selling it privately either through an online classified ad, forum, auction site or even on social media may be the best way to go about it.
However, by far the most simple and convenient way to sell your car is to use an online car buying website, such as ours. Simply grab an online valuation and arrange to drop it off at your nearest store. They'll take care of all the paperwork and arrange a same-day payment. Simple, quick, easy and secure.