How to sell your car fast – sell any car quickly
If your only question is “how can I sell my car fast?” – then this guide is for you. Whatever route you choose to sell your vehicle, this ‘how to’ guide can help you make a quick sale – and make the most money for it.
We have divided this guide into sections to help you sell your car even faster, but if you are ready to sell now, you can compare prices from cash buyers now.
The advent of these kinds of specialised services, combined with the vast audiences that the internet can provide, has meant that the issue for sellers is now no longer how to find interest in their car, it’s about choosing the best way to sell.
Now, the major concern of most sellers is how to trade their cars quickly and easily – whilst, crucially, getting the best price they can. The internet was built for this…
Your car’s valuation based on how you are trying to sell it is key, a faster online sale may mean less money, but also less hassle.
To maximise the amount of money you receive selling your car online (or elsewhere) can mean waiting a little longer. We explore all your options in this guide and look at the time vs. hassle impact on your sale price.
How to sell you car fast explained:
- Sell my car fast on a classified website (Gumtree, AutoTrader, Motors.co.uk)
- Sell my car fast to an online car buyer (WeWantAnyCar etc.)
- Sell my car fast privately
- Sell my car fast as a part exchange with a dealership
- Sell my car fast for scrap
- Prepare my car quickly for sale
- Documents required to sell my car fast
- Getting the best price and advertising effectively
Selling your car fast on a classified website
For most people, the primary motive for selling their car online has traditionally been to get more money, rather than to do it speedily.
It takes a little more effort than a part-exchange from a dealer – but, statistically speaking, selling online privately through a classified website, can bring in about 20-30 percent more cash than a trade-in would do.
However, as it’s not as quick, this can often mean paying additional maintenance, road tax and insurance while you wait. Plus, you will need to arrange the advert for the car and be available to potential buyers who will turn up on your door step. There is also likely to be some haggling over price, which can be awkward and can potentially ruin your profit margin. It’s not for everyone.
That said, online classifieds are by far the most common way to advertise used cars for sale. The internet offers a huge audience – and many buyers are often prepared to travel long distances for the right car.
There are a vast array of online classified sites from Gumtree to Motors.co.uk, from Exchange & Mart to Auto Trader – so it’s a good idea to look around and choose the one that will guarantee the greatest amount of interest and exposure. If you have a popular brand of car – like a Jaguar or a Mini – or a specialist vehicle, like a classic or high-performance car, you will be able to discover specific enthusiast sites where it is more likely to find a receptive audience.
Typically, these classified sites charge a flat fee for an advertisement to appear for a set period. However, there are some free sites (like Gumtree) which might be worth signing up to and there are other ways to sell your car for free.
There are also a number of online auction websites, such as eBay, that will allow you to list your car for a percentage of the sale price. Whilst this can be expensive, because it’s the most popular auction website on the internet – by a significant margin – it means that they offer huge exposure; and you will be able to set a reserve price, so that your car doesn’t sell for less than you are prepared to accept.
Making the most out of your car and putting together an effective advertisement is key to selling it quickly with a classified ad or online auction – and we will discuss how you should go about doing this later in the guide.
Selling your car fast to an online car buyer
If you think classifieds are not for you, there has recently also been a rise in online car buying services, companies like WeBuyAnyCar* and The Car Buying Group, WeWantAnyCar and Best Car Buyer – all of whom offer a quick and hassle-free way for people to sell their cars for cash.
The idea is that sellers go to their websites, describe their vehicles and its condition – and it generates an offer price. Assuming you are happy with the price provided, there are two main ways that online car buyers complete the purchase:
Either you take the car to one of their drop-off points, the car then undergoes a physical inspection to ascertain that the information given online was correct – and the price is either agreed or revised.
Alternatively, and depending on the company you choose, you can arrange for a company representative to come to your home or work and collect your car from there. If you choose this option, you will need to call the company to run through your online valuation, and then book-in the collection.
However, whilst online buying services are quick, some will charge for collection of vehicles and many charge less-specific ‘admin fees’, which will be deducted from your final sale price.
Some will also add on ‘transfer fees’ for wiring the agreed money into your bank account. Always ask about these charges to ensure that you get a complete picture of your overall return. Some also charge no fees, so do compare car buyers wisely!
If you want a quick and simple way of seeing more of your options when selling your car online, you might want to try an online comparison site, like Motorway.co.uk, which will give you a free overview of what a number of popular online car buying sites will offer you for your car. This website specialises in cash for cars buyers.
By simply entering your cars registration number and mileage on the homepage of this website, we will automatically scan online car buyers to find you our best offers instantly – comparing prices, reviews, collection types and payment details.
*Disclaimer: WeBuyAnyCar is not a commercial partner of Motorway. We do not compare prices from WeBuyAnyCar.com.
Selling your car fast privately
Assuming your motor is not a scrap vehicle and has value as an on-the-road car, you can sell it to a new owner – either privately or selling through a car dealer. This can often mean more money than going through an online car buyer, but there are no rules, it’s worth shopping around for the best price!
When trading cars privately, sellers need to pay attention to how they put together their adverts – as this is the first thing that any buyer will see – and, fairly evidently, in this case first impressions are important.
No buyer is going to be impressed – or be convinced to part with their cash for that matter – by a low-resolution photograph of a dirty car and a poorly-written or entirely cursory description.
A high-quality picture of a well-maintained vehicle along with a relevant, succinct and well-crafted description will always put the seller firmly in the driving seat.
Selling your car fast to a car dealer
If you can, find a dealer that specialises in cars like yours. So, if you own an Audi, head to your nearest Audi dealer and see what they will offer you.
It’s never a good idea when approaching a dealer to look like you’re desperate or have no idea what you’re doing. So, do some research, work out what the car is worth, and be confident.
Remember to take your documents with you. If you have to go home and come back, you can’t be sure the offer agreed will still be agreed when you return. Dealers can be a surprisingly fickle bunch.
If you agree to a sale, ensure that the dealer completes the V5 section 9 (yellow slip). This needs to be filled-out when selling to a dealer – and must, by law, state the dealer’s full name and business address, VAT number and be signed by both you and them.
Get a full purchase invoice from the dealer that contains all their details, your details, and information about the car. You should also make sure that this is signed and contains the correct figure you sold the car for – and the payment method.
In cases where there is outstanding finance on the vehicle, this must also be recorded on the invoice so that you can get a settlement figure.
There are also further things to consider when you are trading in a vehicle for another. We cover this in our part exchange guide.
Selling your car fast as scrap
In most cases, if you want to get a decent return on your old car, it is a good idea to try to make it as attractive a prospect as possible, so that it stands a chance of catching the eye of a potential buyer. However, if you think your car is past that stage, it might be a better idea – and save considerable time – just to scrap it. Cars worth less than about £200 are typically classed as scrap.
The price you will get when scrapping a car can depend on a number of factors – from the buoyancy of the scrap-metal market to the number, and desirability, of the salvageable parts on the vehicle.
It is usually fairly clear which vehicles are likely to fare better. Obviously, if you’re scrapping a car, it’s weight will be a major factor. There is considerably less scrap value in a small, light car – such as the Ford KA – then there will be in much larger vehicles such as transit vans or Land Rovers.
A lot of online scrapping services offer customers the chance to get a quick, no-fuss valuation on their websites, which is calculated automatically by adding a few details about the vehicle. Many find this a quick and hassle-free solution as the buyers will buy any car, whatever the condition In fact, they often buy car based on weight, so condition is often irrelevant! RemoveMyCar and CarTakeBack are perhaps the best known of these.
Many car companies also offer scrappage schemes for their vehicles. You can find out more about these schemes in our car scrappage schemes guide.
Obviously, if you’re scrapping with an online site that offers ‘free pick-up’ of your old car, you’re liable to make less money, just because the company transporting it will typically off-set the price of moving it, from what they offer you. Free in this case, does not necessarily mean free, so do always check the finer details of any offer quoted. We go deeper into things to consider when you sell your car for scrap in our dedicated ‘how to scrap a car guide‘.
Preparation to sell your car fast
Regardless of the overall condition of your car – as long as you’re not planning on scrapping it – the first thing to do when trying to sell it is to give it a thorough clean – both inside and out. It might sound silly – even unnecessary – but it’s actually massively important.
Cars with mysterious stains on the upholstery, mouldy sandwiches festering in car door bins, and moss clinging to their windows do not give the impression of being well-looked-after – and give potential buyers the overall impression that the car is in disrepair and unlikely to be properly maintained.
Before attempting to sell your car, it’s critical to wash, wax, clean and air it. If you have the money – and the car you’re selling is of sufficient value to make this worthwhile – have it professionally valeted. If not, buy some cleaning products and do it yourself, but do ensure that it is looking as good as it can.
To get the best results, you need to treat the sale of your car exactly as you would the sale of your house – and that means making it as appealing as possible. So, wash the exterior, hoover the carpets and clean down the windows. A car that has been thoroughly cleaned will be far more likely to make a quick sale – it sounds obvious, but many sellers won’t bother.
Airing the car properly is also essential. The scent of cigarette smoke or greasy take-away food will rarely endear a buyer to set foot inside your car, let alone snap it up.
If time is limited, use a smell-neutraliser spray – not an air freshener. The strong scent of an air freshener is liable to make the inside of a car smell like a toilet and make potential buyers wonder if its presence is there to mask something unpleasant.
Repairing cosmetic faults for a quick sale
Repairing any cosmetic faults will obviously help you get the best price for your car. Again, how many repairs you do should depend on how much your car is worth and how much they cost.
Obviously, there’s no point spending £1,000 on repairs, on a car worth £500. But, if there are cheap measures you can take to improve the condition and ‘look’ of your car, it might be worth doing.
So, if your car has broken lights, missing hubcaps or cracked mirrors – and you can replace them fairly cheaply – doing so might be worthwhile, since it is liable to improve the offers you’ll receive.
Checking on your electrics and tyres
Have a good look around your car and check that all the electrics work – everything from the wipers to the stereo system. Even if you don’t get around to fixing any faults, it’s still a good idea to know about them. If a buyer asks you about these things, it would be much better to explain that they are faulty rather than claim ignorance or feign surprise.
Likewise, it’s a good idea to check that the tyres – including the spare, if your car has one – are in good condition. Again, if they are lacking tread, this could be another comparatively cheap fix, that could spell the difference between a quick sale or a potential buyer slipping away…
Renewing your MOT
Whilst cheap cosmetic repairs can help you raise the price of your car, the same is true on the mechanical side of things. If you leave simple mechanical faults, it will mean that any potential buyer worth their salt, will make a lower offer because they need to take the costs of the repair into account – or will simply pass up the sale and look elsewhere.
A recent MOT is always a good sign and, naturally, extremely popular with buyers. So, if your MOT is about to expire and you want to make a really quick sale, think about having it renewed.
Have your documents ready
When looking to sell your car fast, it is absolutely key to gather together and understand all the necessary documentation, as soon as you can to ensure a smooth and fast sale.
A sensible buyer will want to inspect your car’s paperwork before shaking hands, so having all the relevant documents available is obviously a good idea. Whereas, having them in a drawer hidden away somewhere is obviously going to slow things down if you can’t find them. Any hold up will give the buyer more opportunity to either rethink or look elsewhere.
The main documents you’ll need to sell your car are:
Out of all the documents the V5C – the car’s log book – is the most important. This document contains all of the important information about your car. For example, the date of first registration and the name of the registered owner (most likely you). Essentially, this documentation proves you are the owner of the vehicle you are selling.
Once you have sold your car, just fill out the V5C/2 section of the V5C. This section then tears off as a slip that you give to the buyer as proof that they now own the vehicle. After that you’ll need to fill out the new owners section of the form and send it back to the DVLA. Alternatively, you can do this online on the DVLA website.
Why is it so important to have your VC5? Well, because the DVLA (Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency) advises that no one should buy a vehicle that doesn’t have a registration certificate.
The car’s MOT certificates
An MOT certificate (and service book with them included) is a great way to show that your car has passed its MOT over the years with flying colours. These MOT documents will state any repairs that were necessary for the car to pass (if any).
Any maintenance bills
These aren’t all necessary. However, it’s a good idea to collect up some proof of insurance and have that available for inspection also.
It’s also a good idea to have your service book with you when you meet any potential buyers. Make sure that the book has been properly stamped throughout your car’s service history. This should have been done as a matter of course – however, it can be overlooked and if you are missing any stamps, go back to the company that did the service and ask them to stamp it.
Asking for a fair price to ensure a fast sale
Asking for an unreasonable price for your car will obviously slow down a sale. Unrealistic price expectations slow down car sales more than any other factor.
Buyers do not care about the sentimental value you attach to your car. Also, it’s important to remember that you are unlikely to make a profit from your car sale – unless, of course, you have performed extensive restoration work, or your car is a classic that you’ve been diligently nurturing for years.
In most cases, how much your car is worth will have gone down over the time it has been in your possession. This means, that when you come to sell, your focus will need to be on a fair price for the car rather than what you might have paid for it yourself.
Probably the quickest way to find out how much your car is worth is to look at what similar cars are going for. You can do this for free by checking out websites such as eBay and AutoTrader (which lists the retail value), plus valuation tools such as at Parkers and WhatCar?
Note of caution:- to explore prices effectively on listing websites (like Auto Trader and alternatives), it is important to seek out cars of similar age and condition when comparing used retail prices and be aware that these prices will be from dealers who offer warranties, finance and other such things allowing a premium value. Online car valuations are usually lower because they take into account that most cars end up in auctions or go to dealers who need to make a profit.
Advertising your car effectively
Usually, the quickest way to sell a car these days is online – taking out an advert on a website such as AutoTrader or eBay. These sites allow you to upload a large number of photos and thorough description of your car in order to attract buyers.
However, if you have a collectible car, it might be worth seeing if there are specialised publications available – such as Classic Jaguar, for example – where you can be sure your car ad will find an appreciative audience.
Some people do of course get lucky with a ‘For Sale’ card stuck up in their car – however, whilst this is a cost-effective option, it is rarely your best bet if you’re looking for a quick sale.
Getting your advert photographs right
Statistics show that if you’re selling your car online, you will get a much better response if you have a photograph (or many photographs!) in your advertisement. You will improve your chances of getting a quick sale still further, if you have a number of pictures of your car taken from a variety of different angles, plus pictures of the internals, e.g. the dashboard, the steering wheel, seats and control panels.
In much the same way, that you wouldn’t want a buyer to waste your time, you don’t want to waste theirs. So, having high-definition, representative pictures of your used car is essential. Most online auction sites allow you to submit multiple pictures, so it makes sense to use this functionality.
Take between five and ten pictures of the car’s exterior, from the front, side and back. Then three or four of the car’s interior, including the front, rear, and boot – and a photograph of the dashboard from the position of the driver’s seat. This will help potential buyers visualise themselves driving the car.
Try to ensure that all your photographs are framed correctly. Remember: the plan here is to showcase your car – not a nearby lamp-post or garage.
If you can, try to make the background look as pleasant as possible. A shot of your car parked in an attractive and leafy suburban street will typically get a better response than one of it parked next to a patch of nettles or by some bins.
Crafting a successful description
Once a potential buyer has seen your wonderful photographs, there’s a good chance they will be intrigued enough to read the accompanying description.
Though it’s true that you want a quick sale, you don’t want to look like you’re desperate to off-load the car.
For one thing, this will make some buyer’s nervous – and make them wonder why you want shot of it so fast. Moreover, if you have ‘quick sale’ written into your ad’s copy, it is likely to encourage responses from buyer’s that will offer you a low price in order to ‘help you out’ by taking the unwanted car off your hands.
The secret to crafting a good car ad is focusing on what’s important. You should always include:
- The car’s spec – make, model and year
- The length of MOT
- Details about the service history
- The condition of the car
You should always make mention of any major faults with a car you are selling. For example, if it regularly cuts out in the middle of a drive, it’s a good idea to mention this.
In any case, it is unlikely that any buyer will purchase your car without a test drive, so it makes sense to be up-front and honest. Also, it could be potentially dangerous – and you might find yourself culpable if you sold it without letting the new buyer know.
If the car your selling is a nearly-new car, it’s a good idea to outline any body defects or damage – as it’s very likely that buyers will expect it to be in good condition. However, older used cars are expected to have the odd mark on their bodywork, so unless it’s really bad, you can usually get away with not mentioning it.
Ensuring you don’t get ripped off
Though you are trying to sell your car fast, you still need to protect yourself.
When you arrange for a potential buyer to see or test drive the car, ensure that you have a full name and a phone number.
If they ask to test drive, make sure you cover yourself by asking to see their driving license and proof of insurance. If they don’t have this on them, offer to drive the car yourself and demonstrate it that way.
Completing a fast sale
Quick sales don’t mean you should not be mindful towards the possibility of being ripped off. Never hand over your car keys or any documents until you have the money – whether this means counting cash in an envelope or calling your bank to make sure funds have been transferred and been cleared.
Scams involving ‘overseas buyers’ have been well-documented over recent years. So, don’t allow your hopes of a quick sale to blind you to the fact that there are many cases of fraud connected to car sales.
If you hear from potential buyers that want to ship your car overseas or conduct complicated International money transfers, avoid them. Regardless of what they might offer in order to sweeten the deal, it is not worth it.
Getting proof of purchase
Once you have shaken hands and the money has been handed over, you will need to provide some proof of purchase. This will provide a paper trail and ensure that things conclude equitably.
You should always provide the buyer with a written receipt, remembering to include the following phrase: ‘Sold as seen, tried and approved without guarantee,’ as recommended by the Automobile Association (AA).
If you’re concerned – or aren’t quite sure what to write on the receipt – don’t worry. You can download a simple template from the AA’s website. Remember to print this off twice, so that both you and the seller can retain copies for future reference.
Before the seller departs in their new car, you should also make sure that the ‘New Keeper’ part of the V5C logbook is up-to-date – and that you’ve signed the declaration.
Notifying the DVLA that your car has been sold
With your quick sale now completed, the only thing left to do is to notify the DVLA of the change of ownership.
This is now a much speedier process than it used to be. Instead of sending V5C logbook to Swansea, you can now do this entirely online.
We hope this guide has helped anyone asking “how can I sell my car fast?” If you are looking for more great advice, take a look at our handy guides below!
Keen to read more about selling your car?
Try these other popular guides on Motorway:
- How To Get Cash For Cars: Complete Guide
- Car Value: The Ultimate Guide
- How To Sell Your Van Online: Complete Guide
- How To Scrap A Car – Scrap My Car: Complete Guide
- How To Use A Car Buying Service To Sell Your Car Online
- WeBuyAnyCar alternatives
- How To Sell A Car On Finance: Step-By-Step Guide
- The DVLA and Selling Your Car
- PCP Car Finance – The Ultimate Guide