Ask the Mechanic: How do I privately sell a used car?

What you need to know:

I would like to sell my car but would like some advice on how to successfully sell a used car privately

Hello Paul, I would like to sell my car but would like some advice on how to successfully sell a used car privately.            


Hello David, selling a used car privately is when you do not use the services of a dealership or broker to sell your used car. There are reasons why individuals choose to sell their used car privately and getting a better deal is one of them. The first thing you should do is to decide how you would like to sell your used car; whether you are going to offer it to your friends directly, pin it up on a notice board, use the Internet, social media or press to sell it.

Make sure your car is ready to be sold. Remove all your private property and documents by emptying the glove box, storage bins and boot space. Leave the car’s original accessories and wheel changing tools. Clean the interior and upholstery and carry out basic maintenance service if necessary.

Pay any dues such as debts where the car may have been used as collateral, outstanding parking tickets and repair bills. It is not only dishonest to try and pass on unsettled car bills to the new owner, it may invalidate or lead to cancellation of the sale. 

Assemble vehicle repair and maintenance history, where available. It gives a good impression to the prospective buyers about the level of care your car has had. Determine and set a realistic price. A very high price may drive prospective buyers away.

You can ask brokers to quote for similar vehicles, go online and look at prices of the same type of car or depreciate the car by 15 percent per annum to help you set a price.

Put together the best impression of the car highlighting the specific technical details such as mileage, features, accessories and unique extras. Good photos of the exterior and interior. Have the vehicle title of ownership or log book ready to inspire confidence about ownership and legitimacy of the sale.

Actively advertise the car or contact potential buyers using any convenient communication mediums such as social media, online advertising, pining posters on supermarket notice boards. Also, make phone calls to known prospective buyers. Make arrangements to ensure the safety and security of your car and financial or banking information.

Some criminals, con artists or scammers use this opportunity to visit your home, try to steal your car and property or try to access your financial details to carry out a scam. Be ready to respond to prospects who may make phone enquiries or requests to view or test drive the car. Be willing and flexible to negotiate terms in order to close the deal as fast as possible. Thereafter, have a plan for handling the sales agreement and paper work for processing transfer of ownership.

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