Happy couple looking at their new car from Cazoo

How to sell your car

If you’re getting a new car, it generally means having to sell your current one. Our guide explains how to do it and what to look out for.

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By Cazoo editorial team

Updated: 5 April 2023

When you sell your car, there are things you’ll need to bear in mind. What’s the best way to sell it? What’s it worth? What paperwork do you need? And what happens after you sell it? Here, we answer those questions and more.

How much is my car worth?

The first thing you need to know if you’re planning to sell your car is how much it’s worth – especially if you want to use that money to help pay for your next car. You can check several websites to find the value of your car by entering its registration number and mileage. Different websites will probably give you different figures, but the figures that are given are all likely to be in the same ballpark.

What documents will I need to sell my car?

You need to make sure you have all the relevant paperwork handy when you are selling a car. Ideally, this should include the car’s service book and handbook, MOT certificates, garage receipts and the V5C logbook. These documents help prove to the buyer that the car’s model, mileage and service history are genuine and can help you to sell a car quickly.

Should I repair my car before selling it?

You should always be completely honest when describing the condition of your car to a prospective buyer. That includes telling the buyer if it’s due for a service or if there are any faults or issues that need to be repaired. Ideally, you should get any servicing or repairs done before selling a car because doing so will help you get the best possible price for it. But be aware that the cost of any work may exceed the value that would be added to the car.

Even if no servicing or repairs are required, it still pays to make your car look as good as possible whenever you sell a car. Giving it a thorough clean can be time and money well spent.

What happens to road tax when selling a car?

Your car’s road tax (officially known as vehicle excise duty or VED) doesn’t transfer to its new keeper when you sell your car. When you send the car’s V5C to the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA), any remaining payments on the car will be cancelled and its new keeper becomes responsible for paying the tax.

If you’ve already paid the tax in full, you’ll get a refund for any remaining time and if you’re paying by direct debit the payments will stop automatically.

If you take ownership of a new car before the direct debit on your previous car has stopped, you can’t transfer the debit to the new car – you will have to set up another one.

Do I have to cancel the insurance when selling my car?

You’ll have to cancel or switch the insurance when you sell your car. Many people simply stay with their existing insurer when they get a new car, updating the policy to reflect the change. However, if you want to switch to a different insurer, you will need to cancel your old policy.

If you sell your car before your policy expires, you might have to pay a cancellation fee. If you don’t intend to replace the car you sold,  you should definitely cancel your insurance.

How to sell your car

Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s look at some of the ways you can go about selling your car.

Private sale

A private sale is when you advertise and sell your car through a classified advertisement on a website, in a newspaper or magazine, or in an online auction. You might get a higher price for your car than with other methods, but it can be a hassle. You have to take pictures of your car, write a description of it and upload everything to your chosen selling platform.

Once your advert is live, you have to field emails and calls from potential buyers and some of them might be more genuine than others. Meeting people who come to view and test drive the car can be a stressful experience, at the end of which they might not make an offer, or they may offer less than you want to accept. 

If a private sale is the route you'd like to take, present your car as well as possible, take a lot of photos and write a detailed description that’s honest about its condition and includes details of any servicing/repairs. Set a realistic price, but expect a potential buyer to haggle!

Selling a car by part-exchange

Part-exchange means using the value of your old car as part of the payment for your next car. It’s only available through dealers who’ll put a value on your old car and then, if you accept, effectively buy it from you. Rather than give you the cash, they’ll deduct that value from the price of your next car. 

Selling to a dealer or to a car-buying service

A more recent development is the growth of online car-buying services. Selling your car this way can be quick and easy. You enter your car’s registration number and a few details and you’ll get a valuation that you can choose to accept or reject. 

You should answer any questions honestly and accurately online because the price you receive will be based on a final inspection when you hand over the car – any discrepancies could be reflected in the price. 

While the price you get when using an online buying service could be lower than if you sold your car privately, it could be worth it if you’re looking for a faster and hassle-free transaction. 

Read more about the best way to sell your car.

Can you sell a car with outstanding finance?

If you have remaining finance payments to make on your current car you can still sell or part-exchange it, whether you have what’s known as positive or negative equity. Negative equity is when the amount you still owe is greater than your car’s current valuation; positive equity is when the value of the car is greater  than what you still owe on the finance contract. 

If you have negative equity, you’ll need to cover the difference between the settlement amount and your car’s valuation. If a car-buying service is buying your car, then it will settle the loan with your lender. If you have positive equity, you will receive that amount back from the lender. Many people then use the refund as a deposit on a new car-finance agreement.

Do I need a receipt when selling my car?

When you’re selling anything, it’s a good idea to make sure you have a receipt of the transaction, and especially so with a car that’s likely to cost thousands of pounds. If you’re selling your car to a dealer, through part-exchange or or via an online auction, a receipt will be created as part of the process.

If you sell your car privately, you should create a receipt for the buyer and a copy of it for yourself. Typically, details you will need to include are the date of sale, the selling price, the make and model, the vehicle registration number (VRN) and the name and address of both you and the buyer.

What paperwork do I need when selling my car?

There are a few key bits of paperwork involved when you sell your car. The most important document is the V5C, or registration document. It is essential that you inform the DVLA about the sale. These days this can be done online or you can just complete and tear off the section in the V5C and post it to the DVLA.

You should also make sure that the buyer gets any MOT certificates, the vehicle logbook, the car’s handbook and any receipts for work done on your car. And if you have more than one set of keys for the car, these will need to be given to the buyer, too.

Some vehicles will still be covered by a manufacturer’s warranty. In most cases this will automatically pass on to the new owner.

What are your legal rights when selling a car?

Finally, there are a number of consumer rights that you will need to bear in mind if you are selling your car. As a private seller, the person buying your car has fewer rights than if they bought a car from a dealer. But, in a nutshell, as the seller you must have:

  • been granted the right to sell the car (in other words, permission if it’s owned by someone else)

  • ensured that the car matches the description given to the seller

  • made sure that the car is roadworthy – unless you advertised the car as being sold for parts, for example. It’s a criminal offence to sell an unroadworthy car – and a valid MOT certificate isn’t necessarily a guarantee that your car was roadworthy at the time you sold it.

An easier way to find or sell a car

You’ll find lots of used cars for sale at Cazoo, all available to buy through our trusted dealers.

Cazoo makes selling a car just as easy – just enter a few details for an instant online valuation. If you accept the offer our partners will get in touch to arrange payment and collection of your car at a time that suits you.

Ready to sell your car?

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