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Are you selling your car or trading it in?

The first thing to point out is that it doesn’t have to be a tricky process to sell your car privately. Done correctly, you could maximise the money you make and minimise the troubles you encounter.

It’s likely that a trade in will offer a quicker and easier route to getting rid of your old car. But it’s likely to result in a much lower price too. Here are some top tips to maximise the price you could get when you’re selling a car.

1. Treat the salesperson with neutrality

Remember that the salesperson is carrying out their job and their job is to maximise their profit.

2. Get a true value of what your car is worth

There are a number of ways to do this. You can use one of the recognised guides, such as Glass's Guide, What Car or Parkers. Or you could just look at cars with similar spec and mileage on Auto Trader.

3. Scrub up

Make sure your car is clean and in good order, both inside and out. Make any minor repairs that are required and touch up any small blemishes on the paintwork. You might even want to have your car valeted – it could all pay off when it comes to the final price you get for your car.

4. Always tell the truth

Don’t be tempted to exaggerate or make any false claims. You could be breaking the law. And, if a potential buyer discovers you’ve ‘lied’ they could be far less likely to want to buy your car from you.

5. Know the value of your MOT

If your MOT has less than three months to run, consider getting a new one. The MOT gives the buyer some great basic information about your car’s condition.

6. Make sure there are no outstanding finance payments left on your car

If there are any issues over outstanding finance payments many buyers will simply walk away. After all the effort you’ve put in you don’t want something that could be easily sorted to derail your sale.

7. Make sure any test drive is legal

Check that your potential buyer has a valid driving licence and also make sure that they’re covered on their insurance, or on yours, before you offer them the chance to test drive your car. And always accompany them on the test drive. You don’t want your car to disappear before you’ve been paid for it!

8. What to include in the advert

Always include accurate information; otherwise you could face a claim further down the line. Your advert should include the basics:

  • The make and model
  • The year of registration
  • Mileage
  • Condition
  • Colour
  • List of key features and equipment
  • The length of time the MOT has to run

9. Exchange contracts

Sites like The AA have template contracts you can print off. This means you don’t have to worry about the legal jargon.

Always print out two copies of the contract – one for you and one for the buyer – and make sure you both sign and date both copies.

10. Make sure you’ve actually been paid

Cash or an online banking transfer are the safest ways of making sure you’ve actually been paid. Most people can make payments using their phone these days. If your buyer wants to pay by cheque, make sure the funds have cleared before you hand over the keys and paperwork.

11. Pass on all relevant paperwork

Give the new buyer all the paperwork, including MOTs and service history records. But don’t let a potential buyer take copies or photos of vehicle documents – these can be used for fraud.

12. More paperwork

It’s your responsibility to let the DVLA know that you are no longer the owner of the car. Do this as soon as you can so that you don’t end up with any of the new driver’s future offences and convictions.

As the seller, you need to complete the new keeper details on the V5C form. The new owner will have the V5C/2 section of the form as proof of ownership until the DVLA send them their new, updated V5C form.

Trading in your car

An alternative to selling your car is to trade it in. This can offer a simple way of getting rid of it but it’s likely to offer you a lower price than selling it privately. You’re likely to only receive a trade in from a dealership if you’re going to purchase a newer car from them.

Like any process, there are advantages and disadvantages.


  1. Quick and easy
  2. It can reduce the cost you pay for your new car
  3. You only have to deal with the dealership


  1. You may receive less for your car than selling it privately
  2. It means you’re tied to the dealership that offers the trade in – which may vastly reduce the deals you can access
  3. With cash in your hand you could be able to negotiate a better price on your new vehicle


Be prepared and the whole experience will be far more enjoyable. Do your research and trust your common sense.

If you’re not sure of something, ask an expert’s advice. Most motoring organisations (the AA, RAC etc.) will be able to assist you and help you avoid any pitfalls.

This article is intended as general advice only which is not intended to cover specific circumstances and needs. The information in this article is also not linked to any of the products offered by Yorkshire Bank.

Yorkshire Bank is a trading name of Clydesdale Bank PLC

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