When it comes to selling your car privately, you want to get the best price for your vehicle in the most hassle-free manner. Here we outline the essentials you’ll need to know and remember when selling. 

Legal documents and paperwork for selling your car privately

A really important part of selling your car is the legal documents and paperwork.  You will want to make sure you have all the necessary and relevant paperwork ready to show any prospective buyer, as they will often ask to see this when they come to view.  Once you have sold the car you will need to pass these documents on to the new buyer.  They are as follows:

  • V5C
  • Any service history
  • MOT certificate

If you have lost your logbook/V5C, contact the DVLA as soon as possible to get a replacement as you need this for the change of ownership.

Writing the Advert

Always make sure you describe your car correctly and truthfully in the advert. You can still make your advert attractive to buyers, just be open and honest about your wheels. When selling anything, it’s illegal to deliberately mislead buyers and if you do, it could lead to all sorts of future problems. So always be totally honest in your appraisal and description of the car.

Meeting the buyer

If you have never sold a car before, the thought of meeting a buyer for the first time can be overwhelming and daunting. If you are worried about time wasters and scammers or your own safety, there are a few things to do to protect yourself and also make sure the buyer is genuine. 

Always make sure you meet the buyer in person, anyone genuinely interested in your car will want to come and see the car.  Never meet a prospective buyer somewhere strange or unknown. If you are unsure and feel uneasy meeting them alone then take someone else with you.  Always ask the buyer to visit you at home and if possible ask a friend or relative to be present.

Never let anyone test drive your car without your permission or without you or a friend or relative accompanying them and never leave anyone alone with your vehicle or keys.  It might seem obvious but this is how a lot of scams happen, so always stay alert and vigilant. If something doesn’t feel right then do not proceed with the sale.

If the buyer asks for a test drive, this can be an excellent time to ask to see any identification, preferably with photo ID such as a driving licence or passport.  This enables you to both checks: one that they have a licence, and can legally drive, and two, their name and address confirms they are who they say they are.  Any legitimate buyers will be more than happy to share this information. 

And once again, NEVER leave a potential buyer alone with the car or give them your keys.


Although they are few and far between, scams do happen.  A common scam people run into is the ‘Dirty oil scam’.  Normally 2 people will turn up together to view the car, one person will distract you whilst the other pours oil into the coolant reservoir to create smoke, trick you into thinking that the car is faulty and the head gasket has gone, in the hope of getting a discount.

Do not be pressured into selling the car cheaply to buyers claiming that the car needs expensive repair work and offer to get a second opinion from a mechanic if you feel as if you are being misled. As mentioned above, scams are rare, and if you are worried about selling your car yourself, go through a local garage or dealer or even a car supermarket as this could be a safer option.  However, if you do this it is very unlikely that you will not get as much for your money as with a private seller. 

There are also payment scams you need to be aware of, see below.

Accepting payment when selling your car privately

It is vital that you get paid for your vehicle so NEVER let go of your car until you have received payment, and/or the funds have cleared in your bank. If you’re accepting payment via bank transfer, do not let the buyer have the car until the money has cleared into your account.

Even if the buyer has to wait until you have checked the funds have come through, it is imperative you never let them take the car until the funds have cleared in your bank account.  Resist the temptation of a lump of cash being offered as it may be counterfeit or laundered and direct payments to your bank are much much safer because they provide a record for both buyer and seller.

Always stay away from Paypal and Western Union as payment scams with them are quite common, you should only ever accept a bank transfer or as a last resort, cash or a combination of both.

Receipt and the sale

Once you are happy to sell the car to the buyer you will want to have a written contract as proof of sale. Even when selling your car privately a receipt is essential for you and the buyer.

The receipt should contain;

  • The Registration number Make, Model and colour of the vehicle 
  • Date and time of sale
  • Both buyer and seller name and address
  • Amount paid

‘Sold as seen, tried and tested and no warranty is given or implied’

If there are any defects then note these on the contract as this will stop any future problems.

Make 2 copies of the receipt, signed by both parties, give one copy to each party and give the buyer the V5C2 slip as the new keeper.

In order to no longer be liable for any speeding fines and parking tickets once the car has left your possession – you must record the sale on the DVLA website. Don’t rely on the buyer transferring ownership – they may not do it straight away. 

Once payment has been received and all the legal paperwork filled out, you can hand over the keys!

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