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Tips & advice

Selling your car for cash: avoiding scams and getting the best price

Everything you need to know about selling a car for cash on the UK used car market

Assortment of pound notes

Selling your car can be a great way to quickly get your hands on a hefty sum of cash – especially if you’re not getting much use out of your vehicle.

Thankfully, there are several ways to sell your car for cash in the UK, whether that be selling to a local dealership, using an online car selling service or selling privately through local advertising. The online car selling websites purely dedicated to buying your car from you are good options for quick, easy sales because you don’t even have to leave the comfort of your home to get some wonga for your wheels.

Bear in mind that while we say ‘cash’, we don’t necessarily mean paper money; buying and selling for ‘cash’ in the car industry has long meant paying in-full, rather than via some form of finance or loan payment. We’re not thinking of part-exchanges here either as that ties the sale of your car up with the purchase of a new one. 

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As you’d expect, there are many pitfalls to avoid when parting with your pride and joy, so we’ve compiled this handy guide on how to avoid scams and get the best price when selling your car for cash. 

Where can I sell my car for cash?

Car dealerships

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Perhaps the easiest way to sell a car is going into your local dealership and getting a quote for them to take it off your hands. This is ideal if you’re looking for minimal fuss but it’s worth noting that you’ll probably get a better deal elsewhere as the dealer will be keen to drive down the price to maximise their margins.

Car-selling websites

Can’t or don’t want to leave the comfort of your own home? There are now several websites dedicated to selling your car online. Simply type in the details of your car, submit some photos and you’ll almost instantly get a quote. Our parent site Carwow does this for free and has local dealers compete to give you the best price. Of course that’s not your only option; there are several other firms like Motorway, WeBuyAnyCar and CarGurus which operate variations on the online car selling service model.

One unfortunate thing is that the price you’re quoted may not be the one you get in the end; make sure to record any faults or damage to your car up-front in order to get a more accurate price for your car, rather than get disappointed down the line when chunks are taken off to account for a ding or scratch you may have.

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Selling privately

Ever heard the old phrase: “if you want something done right, do it yourself”? Sometimes the best way to get the best price is taking matters into your own hands and sell your car privately. The downside is that you have to do more of the legwork yourself. 

There are several big online marketplaces you can visit, such as Auto Trader, eBay or even Facebook Marketplace. Here, you’ll be able to plug-in the details of your car and interested buyers will be able to contact you in order to arrange a viewing. Just be aware that you’re likely to have people trying to haggle, as well as potentially some looking to scam you. Below we’ve listed our top tips for getting the best price and avoiding scams. 

At the other end of the scale there’s simple putting a ‘for sale’ sign in the window of your car, as well as a poster at the local fish and chip shop, to attract serious local buyers. One thing we will say is that selling privately in this way offers very little financial protection, so it may be worth either exchanging for cash – this time we DO mean paper money – or a bank transfer if possible.

How to get the best price when selling car for cash

Follow these tips to make sure you get a good cash price for your car…

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Shop around

This goes for both buying and selling a car, but we think it’s worth mentioning anyway: make sure you shop around to get the best price. Get quotes not only from your local dealer, but also a handful of car-selling websites. It’s also worth browsing online and magazine classifieds to get an idea of what similar cars are selling for.

Allow room for haggling

If you do decide to sell your car yourself – online or via old-school advertising – make sure to set a price that’s realistic but slightly higher in order to leave room for haggling. Everyone likes to think they’ve got a bargain and this will allow you as the seller to get a good deal, even if the buyer wants a little wiggle room on the asking price.

Make your car presentable

No one wants to buy a muddy car, so ensure you give yours a good clean and a little TLC before you photograph it for sale. Cars that are clean are typically viewed by buyers as well-looked after, so should be a little easier to sell – perhaps even at a better price.

Gather all the necessary paperwork

Give buyers confidence by gathering all the information and paperwork attributed to your car, whether that be service history, repair invoices or any other documentation you may have. There’s no such thing as being too thorough in this regard as it’ll give buyers a more thorough understanding of what they’re looking at – potentially even netting you some extra cash in the meantime.

How to avoid scams when selling car for cash

Unfortunately, there are lots of scams and fraudsters operating in the used car market so it pays to be careful and take sensible precautions…

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Transact using bank transfers or physical cash if possible

To avoid potential scams, ask if you can transact via a bank transfer. This is typically the most secure method and should be completed within hours, if not seconds. Don’t hand over any keys or documents until the cash is in your account and get the buyer to sign a receipt with details of the sale. 

There’s also the option to trade in physical money (notes etc.) when completing the sale. This means you should hopefully avoid things like fake PayPal emails, as well as ‘chargeback’ scams which fraudsters try to force a reversal of the payment, claiming the transaction was unauthorised. Just make sure to count correctly as there’s no digital proof of sale!

Make sure you transfer ownership

Once you’ve agreed a price and exchanged funds, ensure that you take the time to transfer the ownership of the vehicle via the DVLA. If you don’t and the new owner also forgets, you could be left liable for any failure to tax or MoT the car as it’ll still be in your name. While this type of thing isn’t transferable, speeding and parking fines are, so ensure you get a copy of the buyer’s ID in case you need to track them down.

Also make sure to fill out and hand over the green ‘new keeper’ slip in your car’s V5C log book, as this will act as an interim document of ownership whilst they wait for a new one to arrive in the post.

Take payment in full before letting go of your car

This may sound obvious, but make sure you take payment in full before you let the buyer drive off with your car; don’t simply take a deposit on the understanding that they’ll pay the rest later, as you can’t guarantee the other person won’t drive off into the sunset, never to be heard from again.

Auto Express has partnered with our parent company Carwow to bring you a fast and easy way to sell your car. Sell your car here...

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Consumer reporter

Tom is Auto Express' Consumer reporter, meaning he spends his time investigating the stories that matter to all motorists - enthusiasts or otherwise. An ex-BBC journalist and Multimedia Journalism graduate, Tom previously wrote for partner sites Carbuyer and DrivingElectric and you may also spot him throwing away his dignity by filming videos for the Auto Express social media channels.

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