How to sell your car on Auto Trader

In 1975, future owner of Reading FC and knight of the realm, John Madejski founded Auto Trader as a classified printed car ad magazine to end all others. It worked and transformed the used car industry forever.

Over time, the magazine version ended up in the dustbin of history, but Auto Trader blossomed online and quickly became the UK’s biggest classified car ad website where it remains as the dominant force for online car ads.

Over the decades, the company has been a significant, constant influence on the UK car market. Read on to find out more about what it does and how it works…

Selling on Auto Trader explained: 

  1. What is Auto Trader?
  2. Step by step guide to selling on Auto Trader
  3. How much does it cost to sell a car on AutoTrader
  4. How to find a buyer on Auto Trader 
  5. Dealers and AutoTrader 
  6. Selling classic cars on Auto Trader
  7. How to sell a van on Auto Trader 
  8. Alternatives to Auto Trader 
Auto Trader logo
Auto Trader is far and away the UK’s biggest and best classified car ad website.

Since Auto Trader’s launch, there have been numerous magazine versions, and in 1996, they launched a website version. In 2013, they finally ditched the print edition and became a fully digital business.

For many the website has become the go-to place to look when searching for  used and second hand cars to buy. And according to recent figures, their website attracts a gargantuan 7 million web visits a month.

If you decide to buy or sell your car through Auto Trader, you will be joining millions of others who’ve done the same.

But how exactly does Auto Trader work? Is it the best place for you to sell your car? In this guide we take a look at how to buy and sell a car using their website…

What is Auto Trader?

Auto Trader is essentially a massive, specialised online car marketplace. They describe themselves as the “largest digital automotive marketplace” in the UK and Ireland, and they are correct.

It may not be the fastest way to sell your car, as it can mean a fair bit of admin and back and forth with buyers, but it can often mean the highest possible price you will get for your car. While online car buying services provide a quicker, more instant service, they may not get you as much cash as when you sell privately on Auto Trader. It’s all about a time vs. hassle trade off.

Auto Trader does a great job of connecting you directly to both private buyers and dealers, which can often mean higher prices.

Steps to sell any car on Auto Trader

The first step is to make sure you can actually sell the the vehicle in question. This may sound obvious, but it is a very important step.

Make sure that any outstanding finance in the car is settled or ready to clear, and that you have the correct paperwork in order. Lost your V5C form? It’s time to find it or you may need to order a new one.

You can see everything you need to have ready to sell your vehicle in our definitive car selling guide here – everything mentioned in this article applies to Auto Trader and elsewhere.

Creating an advert on Auto Trader

Once you are sure you can sell your car, the next thing to when selling is to set up your advert. Auto Trader say you can do this in three short steps.

Auto Trader car valuation.

First of all, you need to value your car on Auto Trader. To do this, you will need to enter your vehicle registration number and mileage. This will enable Auto Trader to give you an estimated value for your car.

Additional info

You will then be able to go through to the next page, where you will be able to provide and select any additional features your car possess. This can include things like heated seats, electric windows and a central locking system. You simply have to tick off all your car’s features.

There is also a section that allows you to provide information about your car’s condition and history.

You can choose the number of previous owners, provide information on its service history, and when it’s next MOT is due.

Finally, if that doesn’t cover all the information about your car, there is a section for you to type in additional information.

Remember to be truthful, and include all information about your car. You don’t have to list all your vehicle’s faults, but you must never misinform potential buyers about the condition and history of the car, or you will likely run into issues later and will risk losing a buyer.

Selecting your Auto Trader package*

Auto Trader packages
Choose your car selling package wisely on Auto Trader

There’s another step before you have created an advert on Auto Trader, you’ll need to choose a package.

You can choose between three kinds of packages. They are basic, standard and premium. The cost and extent of these packages depends on the value of the car you’re selling.

If your car is a high-value vehicle, you will have to fork out more for advertising it on Auto Trader.

For cars valued over £10,000, then the basic package will set you back £39.95. This will allow you to upload up to 20 photos. However your ad will only be up on the Auto Trader’s website for two weeks.

There’s also a standard and a premium option. The standard costs £49,95, and gives you a three week advert, again with 20 photos.

There’s an additional feature. You will receive a “Priority” on mobile. This means your car will appear higher when users search for cars on their phones.

The Premium option will set you back £64.95, but does allow you to have your advert up for 6 weeks. Same as the other packs, you are allowed to upload 20 pictures, and you will be a priority on mobile.

You will also be “Featured” on desktop. This will boost your advert to the top when people search for cars like yours.

If your car is valued above £1,000, but below £10,000, these options remain the same. However the price drops to £36.95 for the basic, £46.95 for the standard, and £59.95 for the premium.

If your car is valued less than £1,000, you also have the option to list your car for free for a week. However this option will limit your advert to only five pictures. You can still choose the other packages. The basic package is £9.95, the standard £14.95 and the premium £19.95.

Remember to clean your car before taking pictures. Auto Trader also recommend that you make sure the pictures are bright and in focus, and that you always keep the whole car in view.

Once you have selected your favourite package and followed the steps to produce your ad, you have finally created your advert and are ready to sell!

*Prices checked June 2018

Finding a buyer on Auto Trader

Once your ad is live, potential buyers will then be able to search for cars like yours and view your advert.

However, the process of selling will have only just begun. Now that you’ve placed your advert on Auto Trader, not to say you will not get immediate interest, but sadly you have no guarantee of getting rid of it quickly, or at all.

Now you need to wait for sellers to view your post, and get in touch. When they do, you will have to show them the car.

Auto Trader have a list of tips to showing your car to potential buyers. However despite this, you do have to be wary…

They warn against scam buyers and thieves. Quite simply, it’s never advisable to leave your car alone with a potential buyer.

When showing your car to potential buyers, Auto Trader recommend you take a number of other precautions as well.

This includes meeting potential buyers at your home, or a place familiar to you.

You also must keep a hand on the keys and all important documents. Don’t hand these over until the sale is complete.

Once you have found your buyer, and agreed on price, you will need to make sure all the paperwork is in the right order.

This includes contacting the DVLA and notifying them that you no longer own the car. You will need to send them the bottom section of the V5C form. You’ll need to give the top bit to the buyer, along with any additional paperwork (logbooks and MOT certificates etc.)

Importantly, you’ll also need to let your insurance company know that you have sold the car.

Finally, when you have completed the sale, you should also delete your ad from the AutoTrader website. To do this, you’ll need to log in to your account, and click “delete advert.”

This will prevent you getting any further inquiries from people wanting to buy your car.

Dealers and the Auto Trader dealer portal

Auto Trader has a network of dealers, who use the site to buy cars from members of the public, both outright and in part-exchange. This is called the Auto Trader Dealer Portal and it is a hugely popular route for dealers to find cars to buy off the public (and other dealers) to put on their forecourts.

Auto Trader’s dealership portal is accessible via a special login area of the website built specifically for dealers that allows them to  set up alerts and spot cars they want to buy faster than just using the website in isolation.

If you are looking for advice when selling to a dealer you can find that in our definitive guide to selling your car to a dealer.

Selling classic cars on Auto Trader

Auto Trader classic cars
Vintage motor? Auto Trader is great for classic vehicles too

Auto Trader’s set-up allows customers to sell their classic cars to a huge, willing audience on the website. Just follow the same steps as when selling a normal car. Make sure you get an accurate valuation, and place your advert! There are plenty of vintage car fans on Auto Trader ready to buy classics!

For potential buyers, there is a specific classic car part of the website, which makes it easier to find classic cars. This means they don’t have to wade through other cars and they can streamline their search.

Selling your van on Auto Trader

Auto Trader vans
Have a van? Yep, Auto Trader can help you sell that too

Transit, Crafter, Sprinter or Caddy? Auto Trader has a separate page for selling your van. However, the process is more or less identical to the one used when selling a car.

You simply go to the van section of their website, and proceed with the same steps as when selling your car on Auto Trader.

Looking for a quicker, hassle free way to sell your car?

Auto Trader is an amazing place to sell your car and can often mean the highest possible price for your vehicle, but it isn’t for everyone as it can be a bit time consuming.

If speed is all that matters to you, Motorway allows you to compare offers from online car buying partners who buy cars instantly.

You don’t need to worry about placing an advert, or showing your car to strangers and potential time wasters.

Simply enter your Reg number, mileage and few other details to receive offers from instant car buyers, pick your best offer and arrange a collection or drop-off with immediate payment.

Want to read more about your options? 

Try these other guides to see if one of the many other ways to get shot of your old motor suits you better: