How to Sell a Car

This guide is as much for things you might've overlooked, as well as things you might not have thought of. There are plenty of cars out there, and it's a buyers market, so make sure your car stands out from the crowd! Your car's buyer may not mind a few things wrong with your motor, as they can use these as a bargaining chip, but the more 'chips' they find, the more they'll use them to drive the price down.

Whilst you might not follow all these steps below, the more you use, the stronger position you'll be in as a seller.

Clean it!

It's surprising how many people simply don't bother! Think of your car much like it's going for an interview, as a person you'd want to look as presentable and prepared as possible, selling a car should be no different.

Clean It

Clean it from top to bottom, especially paying attention to any stubborn marks. Every little step you take can massively improve buyer confidence. Removing old peeling stickers from windows can certainly tidy a car's appearance; for stubborn stickers, use a blade scraper and some lighter fluid to rid of get any lasting residue.

Remove everything that isn't part of the car itself. Imagine they are buying the car as if it's new, without your stuff all over it. They have to visualise themselves in the car. Remember things like CDs in the CD player and magazines in the back of seats.

HIDS4U has many great products suitable for getting your old car ready, as well as the new car replacing it! All available here:

Get Under that Bonnet!

Check the oil level, and if it's low, top it up. Most buyers will want to check oil and if it seems a little low, they could be walking away.

Get under that bonnet!

Top up the washer bottle fluid also, as they may want to see the jets working and a nice full bottle of screenwash shows that the bonnet has been opened and routine checks and maintenance are likely to have been carried out.

Clean the underside of the oil filler cap. It's something many buyers check as a means of checking there's no water in the oil, but if you do lots of short journeys, condensation can build up under the cap, making it look like you've got a leaky head gasket. So unless that is the case, give it a wipe clean to make sure the buyer's mind is at ease.

If you're a smoker, wash out the ashtray and any remnants of your habit! It can easily put off car buyers, especially those with kids. Make sure whenever the weather permits, you also open the window a little allowing it to air prior to the sale.

You may also want to consider some new number plates! It's amazing how much of a difference a smart new set of number plates can make. Number plates over the years can get very tatty; stone chips, ingress of water, cracks, rusty bolts, you get the picture.

Not only is this a very simple job, but it's cheap, setting you back around £20 for a full set.

Gather Information

Got a load of service history and receipts? Great. Get them all out, put them in date order and lay them on your kitchen table and take a snap along with the original book pack.

It can make a huge difference to the asking price, especially on older cars. When you've laid all the service history together, you can then see when major service intervals have happened, and when crucial parts have been replaced, like cambelts.

You can also improve your chances by writing an abridged log that you can present, along with the service history. Now's a good time to take a photo of this, so that you can put it alongside the rest of your cars pictures.

Also, find all the owner-attached documentation for the car before you go to sell it, V5 and MOT obviously being the most important.

Remember to also round up keys! If your partner or spouse also has a key to the car, get them to remove it from their keys around sale time as to get new keys cut and reprogrammed can be hugely expensive, potentially making a huge dent in your sale price!


After giving your car a good clean & tidy, you're now ready to take some photos. Good photography sells cars, and a bit more thought than a quick snap can go a long way.


Pick a nice day in a nice location. Do it around midday as it will give the best amount of light round the car. A nicely maintained park is much better setting than an industrial estate or parked on the side of a street.

Imagine the car is on a turntable, you should give a picture of front, back, both sides & one at an angle for the main picture. Buyers want to see as much as possible, so make sure they see as much of the interior in one photo as possible, ideally taken from the back seat.

Also remember to take a picture of the dashboard instruments to back up the mileage.


Remember there's plenty of places you can advertise your car, AutoTrader, Gumtree and Ebay are the best for the majority of cars, but if your car is a little more unusual or classic you may want to consider a specialist online marketplace like 'Car and Classic' or 'Pistonheads Classified'.

List things in order of importance, the actual date of MOT, the mileage (matching the picture) and then the most important features in 'best first' order.

Be honest, typically if your car matches the description you've listed, anyone coming to look at it will most likely be in a position to buy.

It's at this point where you can tell them about things that may potentially need looking at in the future; this will actually give the buyer more confidence that you're a straight shooter, after all, cars always need some attention somewhere. No car is without faults, often even new ones!

Unfortunately, you can often (especially depending on the car) get a lot of timewasters and flaky prospects. This is especially true when selling performance cars.

But that is nature of private selling. If it hasn't sold for a while, you may wish to lower the price and see if it can improve the amount if interest; remember, a car is only worth as much as someone is willing to pay for it, but if you're adamant that it's worth a certain amount, you may have to be patient.

When potential buyers arrive, be friendly, offer them a cup of tea, treat them as you would a customer if this was your shop, these little things can put the buyer at ease and most likely make sure you get the sale.


Some buyers may want to use your WiFi or computer to arrange their insurance or tax. This is quite normal and try to be as accommodating as possible.

If/when the sale is agreed, make sure you've already printed a standard car sale contract, this helps give the buyer and seller extra peace of mind.

If you've followed all these steps, you should be in a much stronger position to sell your car, who knows, you might now want to keep it!

Happy Selling!