How to sell a car

First off, this isn’t a guide to how to maximise profit when selling a car. If I knew how to do that, I wouldn’t mind sharing the secret, but I don’t, so I won’t. This is just what you need to know when you’re selling a car – what requirements you must take into account, and which things make life easier. A lot has changed recently – you don’t even have to fill out the V5 anymore!

Three of these cars were sold, with no problems! One is still here.

Three of these cars were sold, with no problems! One is still here.

So, I’m going to start by assuming you’ve advertised the car somewhere, and now have someone on your doorstep with cash and a desire to drive away in your vehicle.

Firstly, a receipt is a VERY good idea. It reminds you to actually make sure you receive some money, and it has a couple more benefits. Buying from a private seller means very few come backs, but the receipt allows you to confirm the mileage at the point of sale, confirm any declared issues and state that the car has been sold as seen. Even if they bought the car blind on Ebay, chances are they’re still now on your doorstep to take it away, so they’ve seen it. If they have sent someone else to collect it, then say “sold as described” instead. Assuming you weren’t telling big fat fibs on Ebay. If you were, then that’s your own problem.

Ensure the date is on your receipt, and also the time. That confirms exactly when the transaction took place, which could be useful if either party has an accident or sets off a speed camera. You’ll have a record of who was responsible for the car at the time. Print/write two copies if you don’t have access to a photocopier.

Now we come to the V5. This is what to do if selling privately. If you want to be all traditional, you can get a pen and fill it out like we used to in the good old days. If you do this, MAKE SURE YOU KEEP THE MAIN SECTION! Given the green slip (V5C/2) to the new owner, but do not let the main section out of your ownership. Make sure it has been signed by both parties, ensure it is filled in correctly and send it off yourself. DO NOT allow the buyer to do so, even if they promise they will.

These days, you’re far better off doing the change of ownership online, though for reasons that are a bit hard to explain, the service is only available during office hours. Head here and follow the instructions. There are different options depending on whether you are selling to a trader or a private buyer. If selling to a private buyer, you can destroy the V5 when instructed to do so. If selling to a trader, you only destroy the yellow section – the trader will, in this case, take the V5 with him, whether you’ve used the online system or not.

Use the online system for change of owner. It's great!

Use the online system for change of owner. It’s great!

Why is the online system better? Firstly, it instantly alerts the DVLA to the change of owner, or that the car is now in the Trade. Therefore, if the car does have a mishap afterwards, the DVLA already know you are no longer responsible for the car. Secondly, vehicle tax no longer transfers to the new owner, so it kicks in the process to refund you on any remaining tax – this means that the new owner does have to tax their car immediately. They may need to borrow your computer, though it is possible to set it up via a smartphone – it’s not too fiddly. Note that you will only be refunded for any complete months of tax remaining. Note also that the new owner will have to effectively tax the vehicle from the beginning of whichever month you sell the car in. Yes, that does mean two people paying to tax the same vehicle for a month and yes, that is bloody infuriating.

There we go then. Is that everything? Er, no. It’s also VERY important to cancel your insurance cover for this car as soon as you can once the transaction is complete. There’s one very well publicised reason for doing so. No-one wants that sort of mess hanging over them. If you’re no longer responsible for the car, you want the insurance to reflect that as well.

Note that you do not have to declare the car SORN. Your responsibility for vehicle tax will end once the logbook change is processed – whether online or by filling in the logbook and posting it off.

I would just add a note to be careful on Ebay. I have heard of transactions turning sour, when buyers have claimed a car suddenly has a load of problems and threaten to leave negative feedback. They cajole the seller into a full refund, but when the car comes back, parts are missing. The problem is, Ebay nearly always sides with the buyer. As ever, there are some nasty people about and it pays to be on your guard.

Don’t be put off though. I sell cars all the time, and I’ve rarely had an issue – apart from two occasions where I foolishly let the V5 go with the car. Don’t do it kids! I’ve learnt my lesson. Just make sure you’ve removed all personal belongings for the car, and that everything is with the car that needs to be – spare keys, paperwork, locking wheel nut tool etc.



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