Advertising: sales tips that’ll get you the best price

Selling Guides

In the rush and excitement of car buying, it’s too easy to pay scant attention to selling your old one. But, if that happens, you’ll have missed a trick.

Because time and care spent on selling will almost always means a better price - it could even be enough to buy a newer or faster next car than you’d hoped for.

Keep it clean

Time is short and our lives busy. So what really matters when you sell? First, and before you even think of wording that ad, you must get the car right. A couple of hours spent clearing the cabin of clutter, vacuuming the inside and washing the outside can work wonders. And that’s true even if you are part-exchanging your car with a dealer. If he or she sees that the car is clean and in good order, they can put the car pretty much straight on to their sales lot. And, if that’s the case, they’ll offer more than they would for a filthy car needing hours or even days of work.

If your car is worth a fair bit, then it makes sense spending to get bumper scrapes or bashed alloy wheels tidied up, using a mobile, ‘magic repairs’ specialist. But if it’s old and will raise a couple of thousand pounds at best, you’ll be better off saving your pennies.

Get the paperwork sorted

Gather together the V5C registration document, the MoT certificate (if the car is at least three years old, and so needs one), the owner’s handbook and the service records. If you’ve got receipts for recently purchased spares – an exhaust, or a set of tyres, so much the better. Check that they are accurate and up to date.

If the V5 dsn’t list you as the registered keeper, you’ll be in breach of the law and, besides, no savvy buyer will want the car unless you can prove that you’ve the right to sell it. Similarly, if the MoT test is due within a couple of months, put your car in and obtain a fresh certificate for a year. It’s one thing that’ll guarantee that your car sells faster and for a higher price.

Snap it up

Take plenty of pictures of your car to load on to Use a decent quality digital camera and give yourself the best chance that they’ll look good by picking a dry, bright day on which to take them. Hazy days are perfect, better than in bright sunlight. Before you begin, park somewhere flat and level, where the background is neutral – a big hedge or large wall should do you well.

Take pictures inside and out, showing the car from all angles and including the cabin and boot. Show also the car’s mileage recorder and how much tread is left on the tyres.

Leave nothing out. When you advertise privately on, you can upload up to 10 pictures along with your written ad. And when buyers contact you, you can sharpen their appetite to buy by emailing them some more.

Be clever with wordsBe clever with words

The first things that buyers want to know are price, age, registration year identifier – eg ’54-reg’ – and mileage covered. Next they’ll want to know how many previous owners there have been, and how long the MoT certificate (if it is old enough to need one) has still to run. After that, list any extras the car has and whether it has a service history. Be truthful here though. If you advertise a ‘full service history’ your would-be buyers won’t be impressed if all you can produce when they call is a couple of grubby garage receipts. Then list any parts you’ve just renewed – new tyres, brakes and exhausts usually please buyers.

Don’t bother with phrases such as ‘drives perfectly’ or ‘first to see will buy’. They add nothing to your chances of a sale and, to some eyes, make you look a spiv. And never, ever put ‘car for sale because owner is emigrating’ – even if it’s true.

And, whatever you do, don’t put ‘ono’ – ‘or near offer’ after the price. It’ll end whatever chances you have of finding a buyer that’ll pay the full whack. And, don’t worry. If someone likes the car but not the price, ‘ono’ or not, they’ll try to haggle with you.

Getting an MoT testGive your location – town only, though, together with a landline and mobile phone numbers. Use email or texts to send follow-up information but make sure that you speak directly to customers, because you’ll build their confidence. Answer sellers’ questions directly and honestly. If you miss any call, ring back promptly.


It is always better to start high and then come down than go the other way. The best way to decide a price is to look for cars advertised that are similar to your own. Remember that dealers usually include some form of warranty in the sale and that’s included in the price, so you should ask a little less than they do. Even in your car has low mileage and is in superb condition, there’ll be a ‘ceiling’ price for that age, make and model that you won’t beat.

If you need a quick sale, pitch your asking price a little cheaper than that of other cars for sale.

If you don’t, pitch it a couple of hundred pounds higher. And then, if a couple of weeks pass and the phone hasn’t rung, it’s time to go cheaper. Good luck!



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