How to sell your car

Now is still a very good time to sell your car. Used car prices are on average 25% higher than they were three years ago for equivalent vehicles, with huge demand for certain makes and models. We run through some useful online tools and the options you have to sell your car.

Quick links below:

Car seller calculator and wallet

Get a valuation

The first step is to understand what the market value of your car is based on its age, mileage and condition. This will help you determine what price you sell for. Total Car Check has some useful tools for determining this:

Review prices of cars for sale locally

Our free local car sales check will tell you how much dealers are selling vehicles for that are similar to yours in your local area, or by any UK post code. You should expect to sell your vehicle for 15-20% less than the listed retail price.

Gold Check valuation

Total Car Check’s Gold Check provides a valuation based on the mileage of the vehicle recorded at its last MOT. The valuation will tell you; how much dealers would sell your car for; what the average value of the car would be if you sold it privately (private average); how much dealers would value the car for when it is part-exchanged; and what it would sell for at auction. There’s more on the options you have for selling below.

A V5C logbook

Prepare paperwork and vehicle accessories

No matter what route you use to sell your car it is important that you prepare documentation and important accessories ready for completing the sale. If you are missing these it can have a big impact on the car’s sales price:

V5C logbook

The pink DVLA registration document provides a record of the vehicle’s keepership and should show you (or your partner) as the keeper. The buyer needs their copy of the document to replace you as keeper or to notify the DVLA that the vehicle is being taken off the road or has been sold into trade (if purchased by a dealer).

Service history

Any invoices or documents confirming that the vehicle has been serviced by garages and any repair work undertaken. Many manufacturers now operate digital service records so it’s worth checking to see if services or work done on the vehicle have been logged online also. If you don’t have records confirming full or part-service history the vehicle value could be significantly affected.

Photo ID and proof of address

Make sure that you have your photocard driving licence with you if you are selling to any non-private buyer. They will often need it for identification purposes and some may require additional ID.

Locking wheel nut

If you have alloy wheels then you will have a locking wheel nut. Normally this is kept in the glove compartment or tool box (if you have one) in the boot.

Spare keys

Make sure you know where all your spare keys are. The more keys you can provide the more attractive the vehicle is to buy.

Clean and declutter your car

All selling options rely on you capturing the interests of buyers amongst potentially thousands of competing vehicles and sellers. It is therefore incredibly important to make your vehicle look its best, even if it isn’t in the best condition. Make sure both the interior and exterior have been thoroughly cleaned and that nothing has been left in the vehicle when you come to take photos or present the car to a buyer.

Consider your options for selling

These are the main routes available to you for selling your vehicle in the UK:

Private sale

Where you sell your car to a private buyer e.g. another member of the public. The standard approach is to list the vehicle on advertising or auction websites, or on social media and wait for prospective buyers to contact you. Once you receive interest you will need to arrange appointments for buyers to view. You should prepare a receipt which serves as an agreement that both you and the buyer confirm the transaction has taken place. It’s also very important to make sure you receive the funds by electronic transfer before the buyer departs with the car.

Pros: You can achieve a decent sales price.

Cons: You may need to pay to advertise and often need to undertake a negotiation with buyers in person. It may also take time to find the right buyer.

Part exchange

A part exchange is where you contribute your car as payment towards a new vehicle being sold by a dealer. The dealer will inspect your vehicle and give you a valuation. If you agree to part-exchange they will then reduce the cost of the new replacement vehicle by this sum. You drive away in your new car and the dealer keeps your old car which they sell as part of their stock or at an auction.

Pros: It’s fast and convenient, part of the process for buying a new car.

Cons: The valuation for your car is likely to be lower than what you could sell it for using alternative means. It’s only an option where you buy from a dealership.

Vehicles in parking lot that could be subject to outstanding finance

Direct to dealer

There are many dealerships out there that will buy your car outside of a part-exchange process, without necessarily selling you a new car. More and more dealers are promoting their own car buying schemes direct to consumers online. Simply have a look at dealerships that operate near you and contact them or look at their websites to see if they are open to buying your car. It is worth getting quotes and not taking the first offer you receive as valuations from dealers can vary significantly. Also make sure that the dealerships you contact can be trusted by looking at how they have been reviewed and rated by customers.

Pros: An opportunity to sell your car locally and quickly.

Cons: Some leg work is needed to ensure you sell at a decent price, particularly since dealers are expert negotiators. Online car buyers such as Motorway potentially offer a better route to sale given many dealers compete to win your car, which pushes up its price.

Online car buyers

There are a range of online car buying specialists operating across the UK. Some online buyers will provide a free valuation online and ask you to drive the vehicle to one of it’s nearby sites, giving you cash for the vehicle the same day. The site staff will inspect the vehicle and provide you with a revised valuation that they are willing to pay you for the vehicle. The amount they pay is often less than the original valuation, unless the vehicle is in impeccable condition.

Pros: Fast sale turnaround and quick access to sale proceeds.

Cons: You need to drive to a branch so getting back home could be an issue. If you have a car that’s not in good condition the amount offered could be much lower than the initial price offered and you don’t know until you’ve made the trip.

Motorway provides the most convenient and transparent service and works differently to other online car buyers. You are given an initial valuation by plugging in your vehicle registration, the car’s mileage and your email address. You then input further details about yourself and the car and take some photos. These details are used to give you an updated valuation which serves as a reserve in its daily dealer auction. Thousands of dealers can then bid for your vehicle. Once you accept the winning bid/offer the dealer will come and collect the vehicle from your property and the funds are transferred to you within 24 hours. The service is completely free as Motorway earns commission from dealer buyers rather than you the seller.

Pros: Fully online journey with no need to travel anywhere. Transparent process with no nasty surprises. Sale prices achieved often exceed reserve.

Cons: No significant disadvantages other than the process taking a little more time than alternatives.

Used car auction


Another option is using an auction house. Your car would be on display in an auction room with an auctioneer managing bids from anyone who wants to go and bid for it even in person or online. It’s relatively easy to auction your car and the bidding process finishes quickly (typically less than 5 minutes). You will need to transport the vehicle to an auction site and pay fees to the auction house upon being sold. You can of course implement a reserve price which must be achieved for the sale to happen, but if this isn’t met then the day could be a wasted effort.

Pros: Easy to sell through an auction and potential for a high value to be achieved if your car is in demand.

Cons: You will need to take the car to the auction site and success on the day is not guaranteed.

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