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Tips for selling a used car online

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So, you’ve decided to sell your old car and you want to get the best price possible.  Today I am going to share with you my top tips for selling a used car online.

Whenever Ben and I need to sell an old car we first turn to the internet.  Whilst I still notice cars with pieces of paper stuck in their windows with ‘For Sale’ and a price scrawled in marker pen, I personally prefer to sell my old cars online.  I find it more convenient to use a platform that is readily set up to help me sell my car with ease and I know there are hundreds, if not thousands, of keen car buyers already looking on these sites.

Of course the easiest option is to sell to a company that guarantees to buy any car for cash or to a car dealership.  The problem is they always pay less than the car is worth as they need to make a profit.  It’s much better to learn how to sell your car privately so you can get the full value of the car.  With a little bit of time and effort it’s definitely worth it and could be the difference of making hundreds or even thousands more on the sale of your car.

Follow these tips to sell your car online!

Wash and clean your car

Buyers want a car that looks well looked after and something they can drive away.  They don’t want to be thinking they first have to vacuum the car and pay for it to be professionally washed.  A dirty car is going to be off-putting to a potential buyer. 

Make sure you wash your car and clean it as thoroughly as possible.  If you don’t have the time to do it yourself, or you simply don’t want to, then pay for a professional valet.  These can easily be found at most supermarkets nowadays in their car parks. 

You’ll have much better success selling a car that looks clean and shiny!

Take great photos

Presentation really is key when selling anything online.  Put yourself in the buyer’s shoes and think about all the parts of the car you’d want to see when buying a used car online.  Take as many photos as you can and upload the maximum number allowed to the platform you are selling on.

Make sure you take good quality, clear photos in daylight.  Take photos from each side of the car, under the bonnet, the dashboard to include the mileage, the boot, a tyre shot and the seats.  Leave no surprises.

A buyer wants to get a feel of the condition of the car so if there are any major flaws then take a photo of them.  You don’t want to spend time arranging a viewing only for them to be put off by something you didn’t declare or show a photo of online.

By being honest and showing as many photos as you can, you will save time only arranging viewings with people who are genuinely interested in your car exactly as it is.  You’ll be more likely to sell your car by showing as many honest photos as possible.

Find the value of your car

The value of a car depreciates over time, so don’t expect to list your car for the same amount you paid for it.  Search online to see how much your car is valued at for a good idea of what to list it as, but also search sites such as eBay to see how much the same car has recently sold for.  You can search ‘sold listings’ when doing a search to see the price others have paid. 

A little online research will help to decide on a price that people are willing to pay.  You might want to raise it slightly to allow room for negotiation.  People love to haggle when it comes to buying cars!  Don’t price it too high though or you could put a potential buyer off.

Always take in to account your mileage and the condition of the car too.

List your car online

Once your car is clean, photographed and you have the value, then you are ready to list online!  The most successful way we’ve sold our old cars is by using online car auction websites.  These usually allow you to start the listing at a low price which attracts views to your listing, but you can set a reserve to ensure the car doesn’t sell for lower than you’d like. 

The best thing about an auction site is that you may even get more money for your car than you anticipated!

Some car selling websites also let you set a price.  It’s a good idea to be slightly flexible on this and to let people make you reasonable offers.

Describe it honestly

OK, so you don’t have to go into every minute detail, but you need to list all the important information that the buyer needs to know.  You also need to list any faults.  If you are not honest then the sale will fall through and you’ll only have achieved wasting your time and the buyer’s.  You can even sell a damaged car, but you need to make the buyer aware.  Some people buy cars for spare parts.

Most people are keen to know the mileage, when the MOT is due, the service history and if the car has had any alterations.  Then they want to know the condition of the car as they are trying to figure out if it will be a good runner.

Whenever I’ve sold a car and it has an issue I have been upfront and honest.  This means only those people who are prepared to take the car with the fault are those who contact me.  Otherwise I will sound dishonest when they come to take the car for a test drive and they discover the issue themselves.

At the same time you also want to sell the car, so list all its good points and let these outnumber any bad points!  Why should someone buy your car?  Let them know and sell it to them!

Remain calm and polite

It’s often inevitable that you’ll get some time wasters and jokers (or chancers) trying to offer you £100 for a £3000 car.  Just stay calm and delete any that are obviously scammers or timewasters.  Any serious enquires should always be responded to politely.

Time to sell

Once you have some serious enquiries and interest then you can arrange a viewing.  It’s best to arrange in daylight so they can see the car properly.  If you feel uncomfortable doing this part alone then arrange for a family member or friend to be with you.

Let them look over the car and inspect it.  Answer all questions truthfully.  If they want to go for a test drive then make sure they have a driving licence and the appropriate insurance to drive another vehicle.  If they don’t then you will have to do the driving.  Never give them the keys and let them drive the car on their own!

Most people will try to haggle when buying a car so have a set price in mind and be ready to negotiate.  Don’t feel pressured into selling for a price you are uncomfortable with.  You can always wait for the right buyer and price to come along.  It’s fine to say no and end a viewing without a sale.

Taking payment

When you do have a buyer at a price you are happy with then you’ll need to arrange payment.  The best way to take payment is via a bank transfer. 

You could also take cash or PayPal, but you don’t want the buyer to be able to reverse a PayPal transaction or for the cash to be fake.  If they have a bank account, which most people do in this day and age, then they should be happy to arrange a bank transfer.


Once the payment is received then the buyer can collect the car.  Give the buyer the vehicle manual and service history.

Make sure you have the vehicle log book/registration certificate (V5C) to complete.  You can now register the new owner online rather than sending it back by the post.  To register the new owner online with the DVLA then simply follow these steps from the DVLA website:

DVLA will update the vehicle record immediately and send out a new V5C to the buyer within 3 to 5 days.


That’s it!  You’ve managed to sell your car online and for a price you are happy with.