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How to sell your car

Jodie Humphries avatar
Jodie Humphries
- 4 min read
How to sell your car

Whether upgrading or changing to a new set of wheels, how should you prepare for the sale of a car, and should you sell your car to a dealer? 

You may wonder about how to sell your car if you’re moving to another town, need to raise money, or want to replace it with a new and better car, potentially alongside a new car loan. Selling a car can take some effort, and you'll want to get the best price that you can. 

Trading or selling your car to a dealer with a car buying business, usually a division of a car retailer, may be the quickest and most convenient option. However, selling to a dealer may end up getting you the least amount of money for your car if you trade it in. Dealers generally buy your car for a lower price and then resell it at a higher one, often after a thorough mechanical and visual inspection, and with a statutory warranty. 

While often convenient, it might not be the best option if you're looking to maximise the value of your car. Alternatively, you could try selling your car on your own. 

How to prepare to sell your car?

Before you get into the sale, you need to prepare to sell your car. The first step is to get all your documents ready. You also need to prepare your vehicle to maximise its appeal before you put it on the market. Consider hiring an expert to help you with the process. The looks are the first way to attract customers to your car, so do present a clean and shining vehicle to prospective buyers. 

You could get your car cleaned professionally. If you choose to clean it yourself, make sure you clean all of the hard-to-reach spots, such as the door and boot openings, as well as the engine bay. Never leave anything strewn about the interior or boot of your automobile that would make it appear untidy to a potential buyer. Loose things can rattle and bang about during a test drive, leaving a bad impression.

How to charge for your car?

Setting the price right is important to find buyers and also recover a fair amount of money from the sale. If you advertise your car for sale but mention a price expectation that’s too high, you'll waste precious time waiting for the phone to ring. On the other hand, if you set an unrealistically low price, your car may go quickly, but you will have less money than you could. Avoid these traps by checking current listings for cars similar to yours in your location. 

Do your research and highlight the best features of your car in the images and description when you list it. If your vehicle appears to be in a similar condition to other listings, you may want to set your price a little lower to make it show up in searches. 

How to find buyers?

There are different ways to find buyers. You may consider placing an ad in a newspaper or online. This way, you get to set your price and choose the buyer. However, you have to deal with no-shows, manage test drives for different prospects etc. Many buyers may negotiate the price as well. 

Another efficient method could be to participate in an auction. You will have to pay an entry fee and also reimburse a fee if your sale is successful. This may work out as a way to sell your call quickly and without negotiations but may not fetch you the best price for your car. If you trade-in your car at a dealership, you may not get the best price, but you don’t have to spend a lot of time on the selling process. You may have to pay the dealer a service charge for this facility. 

What happens when you sell a car?

Once the deal has been finalised and you receive a deposit, give the buyer a receipt. Make sure you and the buyer both fill out your information and sign the registration transfer and notice of disposal on the back of the registration certificate. You maintain the notice of disposition slip and offer the purchaser the transfer of registration. If the car is still covered by a manufacturer or dealer warranty, provide copies of the paperwork. Don't forget to hand over any spare keys, accessories, the owner's handbook, and the logbook or service booklet to the new owner. 


This article is over two years old, last updated on June 14, 2021. While RateCity makes best efforts to update every important article regularly, the information in this piece may not be as relevant as it once was. Alternatively, please consider checking recent car loans articles.

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