Whichever way you choose to sell, there are three steps you need to focus on – working out the best route for you, making the car as salable as possible, and maintaining control of the sales process.

1. Work out how you want to sell

Though you obviously want a good price for your used car, if you want a quick sale through car selling comparison sites like Motorway, you’ll need to ensure the price you ask is realistic – and, consequently, you will need to gain an understanding of the car’s market value.

To do this, it is a good idea to check out advertisements for similar vehicles on dedicated car sales platforms like Auto Trader. Once you’ve worked out your car’s market value, it’s a good idea to set your sale price slightly higher to leave some room for negotiation, when the inevitable haggling begins.

Instant online car buyers

If the prospect of selling your car privately seems daunting – and you’re not too worried about price – a quick, hassle-free, and practically guaranteed alternative would be to sell to one of the new breed of instant online car buyers. Typically, these companies, like  WeBuyAnyCar and The Car Buying Group, ask you to provide details about your car via their website, a price is then offered, and – if accepted – collection or drop-off is arranged. When the sale is concluded, the money is transferred to your bank.

Offers from such companies are generally on the low side, but they do vary – and, so, it’s a good idea to shop around. Rather than visiting all the websites, Motorway’s free car selling price comparison service allows you to get a number of offers at once – ensuring that you get the best price for your car.

2. Make your car as saleable as possible

If you decide to persevere with a private sale, and you want to sell your used car fast, you’ll need to make it look as good as possible. This doesn’t mean you have to spend hundreds getting every dent and scratch removed, but you should wash and wax the outside and ensure that the upholstery is clean, and the car has been thoroughly vacuumed. If you are selling a newer or more prestige car with a higher asking price, it is a good idea to give it a professional detail.

Crucially, you should try to imagine yourself as a potential buyer and see what immediately strikes you about the car. If it is missing a hubcap on one wheel, for example, it’s probably a good idea to pick up a replacement second-hand. Replacing worn-out car mats is another low-cost fix that can have a huge impact.

You should pay particular attention to how your car looks from the driver’s seat. You need to create a positive impression here in case a buyer wants to take it for a test drive. So, ensure the dashboard is sparkling and that the car smells nice. It is usually a good idea to buy an air purifier rather than a cheap pine air freshener, which will make your car smell like a minicab.

Make your ad stand out

It is a fact that there are thousands of cars for sale out there – and some will be exactly the same make and model as yours. So, if you want a quick sale, you’ll need to put some time into properly showcasing your car in a way that will not only build confidence in the mind of a buyer, but also ensure it stands out.

Getting your car sellable involves getting good photographs. This doesn’t mean engaging the services of a professional photographer, but it does mean ensuring it is gleaming, parked in an attractive and well-lit area, and that you cover as many angles as possible.

Don’t take pictures of your car parked in a dingy alleyway festooned with overflowing bins, drive it to a bright, open, leafy residential area. Move around the car taking as many pictures as you can from as many angles as possible – this will allow you to cherry-pick the best ones later. Make sure you take shots from the driver’s seat (including a close up of the milometer), the back seats, the tyres, the engine, and the boot.

Get the important details into the advert first

Even if you are listing your car on a website with an unlimited word count – such as eBay – it’s a good idea to remember that your audience is unlikely to give it unlimited attention, so it is important to mention all the top-selling features and most relevant information as soon as possible.

The essential points you need to cover in your ad include: asking price, year of registration, colour, number plate information, mileage (be specific), whether or not the car has a full-service history, number of previous owners (if high, put this last), and a list of equipment/features/add-ons (keep these as noteworthy as possible).

3. Take control of the sales process

When selling your used car, whether you’re listing it on a private classified listing site or not, it’s essential to screen potential buyers as much as possible. It is a good idea to set up a separate, dedicated email account for the duration, and to sign up for a free Google Voice phone number.

If you are contacted by someone that sounds like a genuine buyer and they would like to inspect the car and take it for a test drive, choose a safe public area and bring a friend with you, if possible. Before handing over the keys, be sure to inspect their driving licence. On the test drive, avoid the temptation to give the driver the hard sell, instead be as quiet as possible, so that they can concentrate driving the unfamiliar vehicle, and only speak if they ask questions.

Don’t be drawn into lowering your sale price too early

If the test drive is successful, it is likely that the prospective buyer will want to start negotiating to buy the car. It is important to make them give the opening offer, even if they try to push you. Buyers will often start by asking what your ‘best price’ is, in an effort to knock you down. It is best to avoid committing to anything too early and simply responding: “I think my asking price is fair – but feel free to make me an offer.”

Take your time with any negotiation and repeat the numbers to the buyer to ensure there is no misunderstanding. As part of the sales process, you also need to agree how they’ll pay you – the usual (and safest) methods are cash, a banker’s draft, or an instant bank transfer.

What to do when the sale is over

As soon as you’ve been paid for the car, write a receipt, and make two copies – one for you and one for the buyer. This needs to include the date, price, registration number, make and model, plus both yours and the buyer’s name and address.

Complete the ‘new keeper’ details (section 6) of the V5C, and give it to the buyer; then sign section 8 to send to the DVLA. Hand the buyer the car’s handbook, keys, the service logbook, and the MOT certificate if the car is over three years old.