It may not be rocket science but there are some useful tips for selling a car successfully.
Begin by getting the price right. Check car trading magazines and the local press for similar vehicles and never forget the internet. Fix a lowest price, keep it in mind and never drop below it. If the plan is to trade the current car in for a new one, don't be afraid to get a number of quotes. The difference between the lowest and the highest can be surprising.
Sellers should also make sure they have the vehicle's registration documents to hand; it reassures prospective buyers that the car hasn't been stolen. Replacements can be obtained from the DVLA if the original has gone missing (use Form V62 at the Post Office).
Selling privately will bring in more money than selling to a dealer, who has to secure his own profit and therefore has a vested interest in giving the seller significantly less than market value.
The advantage of a dealer, however, is that a sale can usually be made very rapidly, whereas private selling is time-consuming (sellers have to arrange mutually convenient times for prospective buyers to come and view the car).
Take a little pride in the car's appearance. A debris-splattered jalopy just doesn't give the right impression. Give it a professional clean – inside and out. And don't forget about replenishing screen wash and checking the tyre pressure.
Don't forget to include the number of doors as well as the make, style, colour and model when advertising. Other buyer-magnets worth a mention are features like air conditioning, power-steering, in-car entertainment, the sun roof, alloy wheels and four-wheel drive. If the car has been retired from daily use while on sale, don't just leave it in the garage or on the curbside for extended periods. It really doesn't look if good if the engine splutters, whimpers and dies when a prospective buyer tries to fire it up – take it out for a run regularly to keep it limbered up.
Be honest if the car's done a lot of miles, but describe its virtues fulsomely (eg. fuel efficiency, reliability, roominess, comfort, attractive contours, etc.).
When it comes to payment, cash is best but bank or building society drafts are reliable, even if they take a little time to clear. With standard cheques, it's a good idea to wait till they've cleared before parting with the keys.