What you need to know about your options for selling

Private sales require more work on your part but can expose you to a bigger group of shoppers. If you’ve got no time a trade in might be best.

Find out which of the options below best suits you.

Private sales

A private sale is likely to be the most profitable option, but requires the greatest amount of time and effort on your part.

You need to weigh up the likely costs and inconvenience involved. If you are selling a registered vehicle you will have to pay for any repairs necessary and get a safety certificate before you can advertise it for sale.

You can sell the vehicle unregistered to lower your costs (i.e. by not getting a safety certificate), but this will generally lower its value.

Ask yourself:

  • Do I have the time to wait for the sale?
  • Will the cost of making the car roadworthy and presentable exceed its likely sale value?
  • Am I comfortable with the inconvenience of having strangers look at and test drive the car?


Options for advertising your car privately include:

  • online market websites
  • your local newspaper
  • a specialist car magazine or classified.


Trading in your old car with a dealer could be the most painless way of disposing of it. You will get less as a trade-in than as a private sale, but it's an easy and convenient way to help fund the purchase of your replacement car if buying from a dealer.

Don’t get too hung up about the trade-in price as it's the change-over figure (the cost of moving from your old to your new car) that's most important.

Make the car presentable but don’t waste money fixing minor cosmetic problems.

Used car dealerships

Some motor dealers may buy cars outright, without you buying a vehicle from them. This could be a quick and acceptable way of disposing of a used car.

  • You won’t make as much as you would on a private sale but you’ll have less hassle.
  • You won’t have to worry about the paperwork or getting a safety certificate.
  • If you are considering this option make sure you shop around to get the best deal.

Selling on consignment

Selling on consignment is when you give someone your car (e.g. a motor dealer) to sell on your behalf. Generally you set the minimum price you will accept and the dealer will add a commission to it.

Make sure the dealer you select is licensed and that you have a contract that clearly sets out:

  • the reserve price
  • what expenses are involved and who is to pay them
  • how long it will take to get your money after the sale and how you will be paid
  • that the dealer is liable for any damage, penalties or fines incurred relating to the vehicle during the consignment period
  • any other special conditions you think need to be clarified.

Also ensure that you can still sell the car privately or withdraw from the arrangement without penalty.

Note that you will have little control over who drives your car while in the dealer's possession. As the registered owner you may be held responsible for anything that happens to the vehicle, including traffic infringements.

Online car markets charge differing rates and offer various options for advertising through their sites.

They also have varying degrees of prominence in the marketplace and subsequently attract varying audience sizes for buyers and sellers.

Looking for the cheapest cost for advertising online may not necessarily constitute the best deal.

To find an online advertising deal that works for you, compare the cost of advertising with the amount of advertising time this buys you and the likely exposure this gives you to potential buyers.

Things to consider with online markets

  • Don’t give your credit card details unless the website is secure.
  • Look for a key or locked padlock icon at the bottom of the web browser and/or ensure the link contains a letter S for secure - https://
  • Make sure you read and understand the terms and conditions before you use the site - terms and conditions are contractually binding.
  • Keep a printed copy of everything you have agreed to.

Auctions are another option for the disposal of used cars, particularly those that need some work to make them saleable. Consider the following points:

  • You are unlikely to get as much as you would from a private sale
  • You will be charged fees and commissions by the auction house
  • You won’t have to worry about advertising your car or dealing with prospective buyers
  • If your used car won’t pass a Safety Certificate inspection you may have to sell it unregistered

Fees and arrangements for auctions vary so you will need to discuss this with some auction houses to find the best one for you. You should also discuss the reserve price with the one you select.

Wreckers and other options for damaged vehicles

If your car is old or in poor condition it may have little resale value. Many dealers won’t even accept them as a trade-in. They might be more suitable for the wreckers. Call wreckers or scrap metal dealers in your area to find out if they’ll take your car.

Check your local newspapers for groups or individuals willing to collect your damaged or derelict vehicle.

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Things to note

The information in this article has been prepared for general information purposes only and is not intended as legal advice or specific advice to any particular person. Any advice contained in the document is general advice, not intended as legal advice or professional advice and does not take into account any person’s particular circumstances. Before acting on anything based on this advice you should consider its appropriateness to you, having regard to your objectives and needs.