How to Sell a Used Car Safely

Selling your car privately can be pretty daunting but we have compiled some key information that will help you to get started.

How to Sell a Used Car Safely

Selling your car privately can be daunting,  but we have compiled some key information to help you stay say and sell your car quickly.

Selling a car on Carzone is easy! To advertise a car privately click here to follow our simple steps.

If you are a trader and would like to advertise on Carzone simply register here.

Creating Your Advert

Create a Car Advert Online

Your advert is your first point of contact with potential buyers, so it's important that it conveys the right message. Good practice includes the following:

  1. Exact type of vehicle: if it's a Mondeo 1.8 GLX 5-door, write that - not 'Mondeo GLX'
  2. Year: 2006
  3. Mileage: If your vehicle has low mileage, say how low
  4. Colour: be helpful - 'metallic blue' means more to most buyers than just ‘blue’
  5. Tax & NCT: Say how much is left
  6. Service history: Don't lie! If it has a valid recorded history, mention it. If it's complete, display 'full service history' or 'FSH'.
  7. Number of owners: Include if there aren't many for the age of the vehicle.
  8. Features: Sell the great features on your vehicle - air conditioning, alloy wheels, electric windows, central locking and more to set your vehicle apart from the others
  9. Price: Buyers typically expect to bargain so if €2500 really is your final price, ask for a little more in the advertisement. But be realistic, check other similar vehicles on Carzone to gain an idea of the right asking price.
  10. Photographs: You can include as many as nine images in your advert which will make it stand out more and generate interest.

Preparing Your Vehicle

Preparing your car for sale


First impressions are lasting impressions. The exterior is what the buyer will see first, so it needs the greatest attention.

  1. Ensure the vehicle is washed regularly so it is ready for a viewing at all times.
  2. A quick polish can do wonders for the appearance.
  3. Consider touching in paint chips.
  4. If the paint looks dull try a paint restoring polish.
  5. Don't forget to clean the wheels; nice wheels make a vehicle look great.


The trouble with vehicle interiors is that they gradually get shabbier without you realising it. The key areas to tackle are:

  1. Vacuum thoroughly.
  2. Seats: vacuum and, if even use shampoo cleaner if it is especially unclean.
  3. Glass: polish out the greasy film on the inside.
  4. Instruments and dashboard: thoroughly clean with a damp cloth.
  5. Smells: Empty ashtrays and air the interior out if neccesary. 


The biggest and best-selling point you can possibly have is a brand new NCT certificate, a full-service history and up-to-date motor tax.

Test drives

  1. Arrange to meet a buyer at a place you know well and which is well lit.
  2. Avoid meeting a potential buyer alone; always take a friend or member of your family with you.
  3. Don’t let the buyer go out alone, there's a risk they won't come back.
  4. Always check that they have adequate insurance cover; you could be liable for any accidents they may have.
  5. Don’t leave the keys in the ignition when swapping seats. Thieves may try to engineer such situations, so you should be especially aware.
  6. Always separate your car keys from your house keys.
  7. Let the buyers follow their own route, as many are suspicious if you dictate which roads to take. Be prepared for people to drive your vehicle hard - but if it's a performance model and they are seriously abusing it, you can ask them to calm down.

Taking Payment

If you do receive cash, try to get it handed over to you in a bank, so you can pay it in straight away and the cashier can check for fake notes. If your buyer gives you cash outside of banking hours, lodge it to your account as soon as possible.

A better way to take payment is via electronic transfer. It allows you to transfer funds online, but it can take a few days, so don’t release the vehicle until the bank tells you the funds have been successfully transferred.


Cheques and bank or building society cheques can cause problems. Personal cheques can be cancelled or issued without the available funds in the account, meaning that if you’ve handed the vehicle over, it could be the last you’ll see of it.

Despite common belief, bank or building society cheques aren’t as good as cash. With quality forgeries changing hands, don’t release the vehicle until the money has been cleared.

You should ask the bank if it is possible to draw funds against the cheque. Don’t ask the bank if the cheque has cleared as this can mean something different. If possible, go with the buyer to the bank, to draw the cheque.

Ask the buyer for photo ID with an address and landline telephone number. If something goes wrong, you’ll know where to find them. If they are reluctant to give this information, you should be wary.


Write a receipt for both you and the buyer, stating that the vehicle is being sold and make sure you both sign it. Download our sample receipt here