How to safely sell your car

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First published: 25th March 2019
Selling your car yourself can seem a bit daunting, but follow these key points so you can stay safe and sell your car quickly.

Related: Sell your car with Auto Trader.
Be prepared
Have all the relevant paperwork together, such as the V5C, service history and MOT certificate, for a potential buyer to review. Buyers may wish to check details such as the address on the V5C and the mileage figure on the most recent MOT certificate.
Beware of scammers
Beware of scammers, and always meet the buyer. A genuine buyer should want to view the vehicle before making the payment.

Request the potential buyer's contact details, such as their mobile number (especially if they call from a withheld number), landline number and full home address. This should give you further reassurances, and a legitimate buyer should be happy to provide this information.
Stay together
Always accompany the buyer on a test drive. Make sure you ask them to bring their driving licence when arranging a visit if they are expecting a test drive. Also check they are covered by insurance to test drive the car. This should help prevent you being liable for damages.
Hold tight
Keep hold of the vehicle, the keys and all the documents until the full payment has cleared in your bank account.
In plain sight
Always ensure you can see the car keys, and make sure you take them out of the ignition when you change seats on the test drive. You should also make sure you can see the potential buyer at all times.
Stay on home ground
Always arrange to meet a buyer at your home or a location you are familiar with. Never allow a buyer to test drive the car alone.

And, never leave a potential buyer alone with the vehicle, give them the keys or let them borrow the car documents. If you have a keyless fob, keep hold of it at all times, even on a test drive.
Download our checklist...
Auto Trader safety checklist
Why you should know who your buyer is
If you're contacted by a company promising to buy your car or claiming to have buyers ready and waiting, beware. These are usually scams, and some even use the Auto Trader name to appear legitimate.
Fraudulent websites
Please be wary of text messages or emails being sent to you, asking you to pay a deposit in order to secure the sale of your vehicle. They will say this is to secure an appointment to take advantage of the offer.

If you have sent a deposit, please contact Action Fraud immediately on 0300 123 2040 or through their website www.actionfraud.police.uk.

Alternatively, you may receive something called a 'phishing' email, which looks like it has come from Auto Trader and asks you to confirm your login details via a link in an email. The link will take you to a fraudulent website page that looks like the Auto Trader website; but, if you enter your login information, a fraudster has access to your online accounts.

Auto Trader will never ask you for your login details or other personal information in an email; and, we will never ask you to verify your account information by clicking on a link.

Phishing emails can be difficult to spot, so if you receive a suspicious email claiming to be from Auto Trader asking for account information, please forward it to us at customersecurity@autotrader.co.uk or contact our Customer Security Team on 0330 303 9001.

Never disclose your account details to anyone and always ensure your password is strong by using a combination of letters and digits, including upper case. You should also change your password regularly.
How can you deal with canvassers, and avoid scams and fraudulent buyers?
Taking sensible precautions can help deal with some of the potential perils in the car-selling process.

A canvasser is someone who contacts a car seller, trying to persuade them to pay to advertise their car somewhere else.

They can be hugely irritating, which is why Auto Trader has developed its free ‘Protect Your Number’ service to help protect sellers.

The way this works is to replace a seller’s number with a unique Auto Trader number in an advert; when a buyer calls it, they are redirected to the seller’s personal number, but without ever seeing that number. At the same time, the system can block known scammers and nuisance calls.

A known con is a buyer offering to buy your car for the full amount via Paypal, then claiming they’re overpaid and asking to be refunded through a different method. Then, they cancel the original transaction and you lose the money you’re paid back.

Spotting fraudulent buyers isn’t easy, but there are a few scams the government’s Money Advice Service picked out, including:
  • People who try to buy a car using a Paypal account set up using false details
  • Text messages that encourage you to phone to text back, only to be charged a premium rate
  • Buyers posing as an exporter who asks you to send ‘shipping fees’ to overseas buyers
  • Emails from websites that request log-in and payment details for your card
  • A buyer who pays by cheque and takes the car before the cheque clears, only for the cheque to bounce because it’s a forgery
Staying safe on Auto Trader
Visit our Safety and Security Centre for advice on how to stay safe online, whether you're buying or selling a car.