How to sell my car online: the best websites, and key tips to get the best price

How to sell my car online: the best websites, and key tips to get the best price
How to sell my car online: the best websites, and key tips to get the best price

Back in the mists of time, selling a car was a matter of taking it to the local dealer to trade in or sticking an advert in the local paper or newsagent’s window.

Technology has since given us a host of alternative methods, meaning car owners can put as much or as little effort as they like into selling their motors.

That doesn’t mean selling a car online is always straightforward and it can be hard to choose the right option for you so here’s our guide to the different methods – and the positives and negatives of each.

Classified sites

The old-fashioned way to do things: take some photos, write a description and then upload it to one of the many classified advert websites.

These range from the established players such as Autotrader, Exchange & Mart and Pistonheads to general sales sites like Gumtree, specialist car sites such as Car and Classic and classified sections on owners’ club websites and Facebook Marketplace.

Classified sites will probably get you the best price but take up the most time

Some sites such as Gumtree and owners’ forums will allow you to advertise for free but most will charge a listing fee. These can range from as little as £3 for a fortnight on Exchange & Mart to £75 for Autotrader’s top package.

Using such sites lets you fully describe the car, take plenty of pictures, set your price and let potential buyers come to you.

Pros

You’re more likely to get a good price. Selling direct to another motorist means you’ll get a better price than if you trade your car in or use one the of car buying websites listed below. Price it slightly high to allow for some haggling and you should get the price you expect.

It’s a simple process. The best modern classified sites now have a step-by-step process to guide you through creating the advert and some, such as Autotrader, will offer a pricing guide based on other similar models, taking the guesswork out of it.

Specialised classified sites attract buyers serious about a particular make, model or type of vehicle so you get a more targeted audience who are more likely to be serious about buying.

Cons

It’s time consuming. Taking and uploading pictures and writing a description takes time and effort. Once that’s done, you’ll have to deal with viewings and test drives, which require organisation and time out of your day.

Read more: Car sellers warned of scam that could cost them thousands

It can also take a while to find the right buyer and you’ll almost certainly encounter time wasters who will ask for details already in the ad, or won’t turn up when they say they will, or will make a ridiculous offer in the hope you’re desperate for a sale.

Haggling. No-one turns up expecting to pay full asking price for a second-hand car so you’ll have to haggle over the price.

Auction sites

The biggest and most obvious one here is eBay. What started as a small auction site where you could bag random toys from your childhood is now one of the biggest car buying and selling platforms out there.

To sell on eBay you’ll need to photograph your car, fill in the essential details such as age, mileage etc. on the listing, as well as writing a description covering all the relevant information, plus anything that will make your car stand out.

The auction process allows you to set a time limit, add a reserve below which the car won’t be sold, and include a buy-it-now function if there’s a price you’re happy to settle for. Otherwise it’s a matter of waiting for the bids to come in.

As long as your description is accurate, the auction is legally binding so the winning bidder is committed to buy your car for the price they bid.

close-up ebay logo
eBay is the most well-know auction site for selling your car (Photo: Shutterstock)

Pros

Competition can help get you a good price. If your car is a desirable or rare model an auction can help push the price up, beyond what you might have asked for in a classified advert.

It’s low maintenance. Unlike classified adverts where you could be bombarded by potential buyers arranging viewings or asking questions, with an auction you can choose to just let it run and then only deal with the winning bidder. Of course, buyers can still ask questions during the auction and answering them can help get a better bid.

Speed. You can set a firm finish date on the auction and, as long as you get at least one bid, you know when the car will be sold by.

Cons

Like classifieds, it can be time consuming to create the advert, including taking photos and writing a description.

Auctions are meant to be legally binding but there are time wasters out there who will try to pull out after submitting a winning bid or haggle you down when they come to collect the car.

While your auction might spark a bidding war, you might find buyers bid low to try and grab a bargain, especially if they haven’t viewed the car. And whatever the winning bid, you’re committed to accepting it.

Fees. On eBay you’ll pay an initial listing fee of £11.99 plus one per cent of the final sale price (subject to a minimum charge of £25 and a maximum of £45), so it’s not all profit.

Read more: How to avoid online car scams – DVLA issues its top tips

Car buying websites

The last few years have seen a host of new services popping up that claim to take the hassle out of selling your car privately by offering a fixed price based on the make, model, age and condition of your car.

The idea is simple, you enter your car’s details into an online valuation tool and moments later you’re given a price. If you’re happy with it you arrange for the collection/drop off of the car, collect your money and wave goodbye.

We Buy Any Car was the first to make it into mainstream consciousness but there are now many others, including We Want Any Car, The Car Buying Group; Wizzle; CarTakeBack; Car Converter; We Buy Cars Today; and Money 4 Your Motors.

Most of these bulk buy cars with a view to then selling them on at auction. However, some such as Best Car Buyer and Trusted Car Buyers, sell them via network dealers and others like Car Take Back and Car Converters specialise in scrapping vehicles and will break cars up for parts.

car inspection
Car buying services offer a quick way to get rid of your car but don’t expect to get the best price this way (Photo: Shutterstock)

Pros

Convenience. The main attraction of these sites is that the entire process can be done quickly, with a valuation available in minutes and a sale possible in a matter of days. If you don’t want the hassle involved in a private sale they could be a good option for you. Most will pick your car up, although some require you to take it to one of their centres.

They’ll buy almost anything. These sites bulk buy cars and aren’t overly fussy about make, model, age or condition. If it can turn a wheel and isn’t actually on fire, one of them will probably take it off your hands.

Cons

Lower price. These sites operate to make a profit by reselling your car so you won’t get as much as you would selling via other direct methods.

The price you’re quoted isn’t always what you’ll get. These sites have a reputation for quibbling over the condition of the car and knocking the price down for any perceived fault you didn’t mention from the start. Even “guaranteed” values can change if their valuer disagrees with your description of the car at the time of collection.

Fees. Some sites charge a transaction or admin fee, which can range from £50 to nearly £80. At least one also charges an extra fee if you want same-day payment.

Things to remember

Whichever method you choose to take, there are a few basic steps you should follow when selling a car online:

  • Check the valuation. Reputable sites like cap hpi or Parkers will give you a guide to what to expect when selling privately or to trade. Also look at how much similar cars are selling for elsewhere.
  • Make it look as good as possible. Whether you’re photographing it for a classified ad or selling to a bulk buyer, the smarter a car looks, the more likely it is you’ll get a good price. Clean it inside and out and if there is any minor damage or faults try to put them right.
  • Be honest. Your description should include all the basic information – make, model, year, mileage, service history, MOT status and condition plus details of any modifications, faults or damage. If your car doesn’t match the description expect to lose a sale or at least get far less for it.
  • Check the payment. Don’t hand over the keys until you have cash in your hand or proof from your bank that funds have cleared into your account.
  • Fill in the paperwork. Once you’ve received payment make sure the V5C is filled in and signed by you and the new keeper. Also write out two receipts clearly identifying the car and the price paid then ensure you and the buyer sign both and keep one each

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