Our reader has a 10-year old Volkswagen Passat that they want to sell. Here are our top tips for selling a used car privately.
Getting the car ready
To make the most money from your car, you need to ensure it’s in as good condition as possible. You should do this before you take any pictures of it and before anyone comes to view it.
Unless you’ve got the time, the kit and the patience to devote a morning to cleaning your car inside and out meticulously, now’s the time to fork out a couple of hundred quid for a professional valet.
Remove reasons not to buy it
When you’re selling a used car privately, you can’t do anything about your car’s colour or the size of its engine. You can change how you present it.
Get any damage or mechanical problems repaired. Problems will be a turn-off to any buyer because they’ll a) have to get the work done themselves and b) have to factor in extra cost and perhaps even get a quote for having the work done.
Put the car through its MOT if it has less than three months remaining on it. The longer MOT a car has, the more reassuring it is for the buyer.
The price is right
You must price a car correctly. Make it too cheap and you’ll be robbing yourself or people will wonder if there’s something wrong with it. Put too high a price on it and people won’t be interested. We would check the price of similar cars on web sales platforms such as Autotrader.
Make sure you’re comparing like with like. That means similarly specified cars with similar mileages if possible.
You could also put your car’s details into used car takeback services such as Webuyanycar.com. We wouldn’t suggest selling to these services but get valuations from a couple and you’ll find a ballpark figure for what your car is worth.
Where you advertise it
Think about who your likely buyer is. This is probably tied to how much you want to get for the car. Our reader’s Passat is likely to be on sale for somewhere in the region of £6,000. We would suggest eBay is a sensible platform for that price.
Think of the reserve price as what you’d settle for, then give it a cheap starting price to attract bidders and hope that the numbers push the auction beyond the reserve.
Take proper photographs
Again, you’re removing reasons not to buy the car. We’ve done a whole entry on photographing cars so check that out. Basically, ensure nothing is detracting from your car and the background is clean and clear.
Think about the description
The most important thing about writing a description for a car is that it should be accurate. About the only protection there is when buying a used car from a private sellers is that it mustn’t be inaccurately described.
Stick to the facts with your description. Don’t try to be funny and don’t give superfluous information. Do make sure you sell your car’s attractive features, for example, if it has a long MOT. And you need to say where in the country you are based.
Don’t give too much away
If someone asks for your car’s VIN plate be very suspicious. They might be wanting to clone your car’s identity. Equally, while you should have the car’s documents to hand for prospective buyers to check, you shouldn’t let any potential buyer copy them or take them away.
Actually selling the car
This is a worth a whole entry in itself so we’ll do one of these in a few weeks. Watch this space!
I’ve been writing about cars and motoring for more than 25 years. My career started on a long-departed classic car weekly magazine called AutoClassic. I’ve since pitched up at Autosport, Auto Express, the News of the World, Sunday Times and most recently the Daily Telegraph. When I’m not writing about cars and motoring, I’m probably doing some kind of sport or working in my garden.