How To Sell Your Car For Free – Ultimate Guide
With so many options available, it can be hard to know how to sell your car online for free. Do you want to get the maximum amount of money? Or would you rather just offload your car as quickly as possible without any hassle?
Advertising or selling a car for free often seems too good to be true. Can you really avoid transaction or administration fees that many car services and websites charge completely?
And should you take advantage of the free online options that some websites give you – are they really worth it? Or is it sometimes better to spend a bit to get a quicker sale or better price for your vehicle? There are many factors to consider…
Our guide below will explain how to sell your car for free and which methods will get you the best results.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re looking to return a profit on a premium, high value car or just want to shift an old banger quickly that’s been sat on your drive gathering moss for months. This guide works for cars of any value…
Where can you sell a car for free?
You don’t have to limit yourself to just one way of selling your car, but knowing all your options to sell your car on the cheap will help you pick the best route fro those available.
Ways to sell your car for free – online & offline:
- How to create an advert for newspaper classifieds
- How to sell your car with an online car buying website
- Selling online with free classified adverts
- Placing an advert in your car window
- Advertising your car at your local newsagent or shop
- Selling a car on Facebook Marketplace
- Selling your car via your friends
- How to sell or part exchange with a dealer
How to create a ‘car for sale’ advert for newspaper classifieds
With the exception of car buying services, all the other ways to sell your car for free rely on one key element to work well. A really good advert or listing.
It’s vital for finding success when selling your car, so it’s the best to start by gathering all the necessary information around your car that will make for a great ad. These tips are great for newspapers, but apply to all other free selling options too.
You don’t need to be a creative genius to sell your car for free. But setting a realistic asking price is always a good start. So start by making sure you’ve got a recent and accurate valuation. Our guide to getting an online valuation should help with that.
Including all the relevant information in your advert will help you, as well as potential buyers. It means more enquiries will be from serious buyers, rather than people needing more details or those who didn’t really read the advert properly in the first place.
Make sure your advert includes the following information:
- Make, model and trim level – e.g. Ford Focus Zetec
- Year of registration
- Service history
- MOT, including months left until expiry
- Any optional extras
Adverts in local newspapers are generally charged by the number of words or characters included. That’s why so many car listings feature a set of common abbreviations.
Even if you’re not going to pay to appear in print, it can be worth using examples like FSH for full service history, or a/c for air con as it can help appeal to a slightly more serious potential buyer.
It’s also worth taking your time to get the best possible photographs of your car. That means making sure you’ve cleaned it. Try to capture it parked in decent sunlight, preferably with the sun behind you. Kneeling down and using a lower camera angle will generally make vehicles look better.
If you’re photographing the car on your driveway, try not to accidentally reveal your exact location, especially if it’s particularly valuable. And always be sure to document the exterior, interior and any particular details of note, including any damage. Honesty is everything to avoid any aggravation between buyer and seller.
Finally, it’s worth considering your contact details. Using your normal phone number and email address can lead to unwanted enquiries and cold calls from traders even long after your car has been sold.
It can be worth buying a cheap mobile phone and setting up a specific free email address purely for your advertisement.
Online car buying services
Comparing online car buyers and picking from their best offers is one of the quickest and easiest ways to sell your vehicle.
But with some companies charging from around £50 to £74.99 depending on the valuation of your car, it can feel a little expensive.
Luckily competition between leading online car buying sites means that a growing number are skipping the fees to make sure they get the stock they need to sell on and make a profit.
You can compare the UK’s leading online car buyers by using Motorway. Just enter your reg to see your buyer options. The buyers we work with that charge zero fees are:
It’s important to make use of a free car valuation service to get an idea of what your car is worth. Then you can compare the offers from a number of online car buying services and see whether you will get more money by going with a free service or paying an admin fee in return for a higher purchase price.
Online car classified advertising
In the past, If you wanted to sell in classified motoring adverts, it meant paying to put your picture in print.
But free online advertising sites like Gumtree have completely changed the game when it comes to selling your car for free.
Part of the eBay group since 2005, the Gumtree model is pretty much standard for free advertising sites. As a private seller, you can list your car for free on Gumtree Motors. And that includes the make, model, photos and a description.
But you can also pay to get your advert promoted to more people. And hopefully get closer to your asking price or sell more quickly as a result.
The below pricing was up to date as of September 2018, they may have changed since then…
To have your advert appear at the start of the relevant category or the Gumtree homepage for a set amount of time costs from £11.99 to £24.95. And you can also mark it as urgent for £11.99 if you’re in a real hurry to sell.
Placing a ‘for sale’ ad in your car window
Selling your car for free doesn’t just rely on modern technology. Simple methods like putting ‘For Sale’ notices in your car still work. It’s particularly effective if you live on a busy road with plenty of traffic passing by.
But you do need to make sure it’s done legally. Or it could cost you more than your car is worth.
There are three rules that state how to sell your car for free with adverts in your car windows without breaking the law.
The first is that you need to ensure you don’t block or obstruct the view through your windscreen. And your car still needs to be taxed and insured if it’s on a public highway rather than your drive.
If you live outside London, then the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005 can lead to a fine of up to £2,500 if you have two or more motor vehicles advertised for sale within 500 metres of each other. But this only applies if you can’t prove you’re not acting as a business.
So, if you’re not setting yourself up as a car dealer, then you’re fine to use your car to advertise itself for sale.
But the situation is slightly different if you live in London, as the Local Authorities Act 1990 would define it as street trading, which leaves you liable for a fine of up to £1,000.
In cases where private car owners have challenged prosecution, the relevant borough has normally waived the case, but it’s worth checking the rules for your specific borough first.
Newsagents and local shop noticeboards
Most local newsagents and shops offer noticeboards where private ads can be placed. And some of these locations won’t charge you, including most major supermarkets.
Obviously not everyone wants to pick up a new car while they’re doing their weekly shopping or picking up a newspaper. But it can work very well in some cases.
Given the competition to find good quality cars online, even car dealers pay close attention to any local noticeboards to spot a bargain or something unusual.
You’ll spot lots of community notice boards when you start looking. That includes coffee shops, work places, community centres and more.
Make sure your advert is clearly written, with all the relevant details covered above for a good advert. Pay particular attention to making sure your contact details are easy to read.
Selling a car on Facebook Marketplace
Believe it or not, cars have been bought and sold via Facebook groups for some time. It can work for specialist vehicles, but it’s a nightmare to navigate if you’re looking to browse what’s for sale nearby.
Facebook Marketplace lets anyone sell via the social network. The main advantage is that it’s easy to share your listing with friends and family on Facebook, along with the huge number of users logging in every day.
The downside of using Facebook Marketplace to sell your car for free is that you can encounter a lot of idle browsers and window shoppers. Also, because your advert is linked to your Facebook profile, strangers can see your personal profile (amount of info depending on your privacy settings).
So potentially, if you’re selling a high performance or luxury car, it’s not difficult for someone to see where you work for example. Or that you visit the same gym and check in on Facebook at the same time every week. It’s generally worth checking your privacy settings before considering advertising!
But if the car you’re selling is unusual, it’s certainly worth looking for relevant Facebook Groups to share the details with people who might be more interested in buying it.
There are groups dedicated to every type of car. So if you have a highly-tuned Audi R8, a drift-spec Mazda, a drophead Rolls Royce or anything out of the ordinary, it’s well worth investigating.
Selling your car with help from your friends
If you are selling your car online, it makes sense to tell any friends that might be interested. The internet and social media has made that much easier to do!
The average Facebook user has around 200 friends. So news of your car being up for sale can spread quickly, you can see similar results on other social networks.
You can also message your phone contacts for free via services like WhatsApp, and send photos, videos and more details to anyone interested. Just be careful not to annoy your friends.
Good photos are obviously still important, especially if you want to use a photo network like Instagram to sell your car. And now Facebook or Instagram Stories can let you create your own TV-style advert to share.
The biggest risk of this approach is the potential to damage friendships. The process of buying and selling cars can often lead to disputes. And making deals with friends can often complicate the process a lot more.
If you’re planning on selling your car online via your friends, then it’s worth paying even more attention to clearly stating the price, condition and terms of sale.
Is selling to or part exchanging with a dealer really free?
There is one final option for selling your car for free, and that’s trading or selling with a dealer.
Around 3.2 million car owners take this route every year. It avoids the legwork of selling a car privately but it does mean you’re likely to get a lower value, and can leave you at the mercy of an experienced car dealer.
Before you consider a part exchange deal, you’ll want to read our guide on how to sell to a dealer or our guide to the part exchange process. And use a service like Motorway to compare what you might have got from car-buying services, which also offer a relatively hassle-free way to sell your car.
When is it best to try to sell your car for free?
Using the various free methods to sell your car will definitely save you the money for commission, transaction or administration fees. But it’s not always the best choice for everyone. It’s just not the right way to sell every car.
If you have a fairly typical car for sale at a reasonable price, then a free option should work reasonably well. But you may need to be patient. It’s likely that advertising via free options will mean a higher chance of time wasters and ‘tyre kickers’ taking up your time.
There are similar drawbacks to selling a more valuable or rare vehicle. You’re even less likely to shift a vintage Austin-Healey quickly than a cheap 10-year-old Ford Focus.
Although specialist groups can work, many of the people there will already own a similar car. So the number of potential buyers is going to be relatively small.
It’s also worth remembering that avoiding fees doesn’t mean that you’ll necessarily make more money from the sale. You might have to pay a fee to advertise on Auto Trader, Piston Heads or eBay classifieds but the audience they attract might be more likely to pay your asking price without bargaining you down.
It’s definitely worth checking the price offered by car buying services that ask for a fee as well as the free alternatives. If We Buy Any Car or We Want Any Car offer a price that’s £80 more than the free option, you’ll still make more from selling your car to them.
Ultimately, the best way to sell your car will mean getting an accurate valuation, and understanding the options available to suit you.
If you want to sell to specialist dealers, online car buying sites or scrap buyers, you can compare instant offers for your car today on Motorway. It takes seconds to compare your options and you can start here.
It’s also worth checking out some of the other guides we have created to give detailed advice on specific ways to sell your car.
Other in-depth Motorway guides that cover free ways to sell: