When selling a car privately, you must give the buyer a full and accurate account of the car's condition before the purchase is completed. If you don’t do this, you may be taken to court for misrepresenting the vehicle’s condition.
Fixing minors faults
It's a good idea to address any minor faults with your car before you sell it. By mentioning these fixes you may increase the car's value. You'll also help protect yourself from any comebacks later on.
More serious faults - such as worn tyres or broken headlamps - make the car unroadworthy. You are not legally allowed to sell an unroadworthy vehicle unless the buyer fully understands this.
Why would someone buy an unroadworthy car?
Someone may wish to use an unroadworthy car for spare parts or to fix up - perhaps because the car is a classic.
Should I scrap my car?
If your car is unroadworthy, you might consider selling it for scrap instead.
Documents you need to sell your car privately
You must provide the buyer with:
- Service history
- MOT certificate (obtain this from any MOT test station)
- V5C certificate (if needed, get a replacement from the DVLA)
The car cannot be driven away by the buyer if it does not have a current valid MOT certificate.
Can't locate these documents? You must get them replaced to proceed with any sale.
Be honest about your car's condition
You must be completely honest in the description of your vehicle; don’t claim it is in good condition if it is not. If a prospective buyer asks about the condition, you must be completely honest in your response. If it is unroadworthy, make this clear in any ads you post.
Car seller's contract
The buyer should be provided with a car seller's contract - this is essentially a receipt signed by both you and the buyer. It should include the words: “sold as seen, tried and approved without guarantee”.
Fit for purpose?
If a seller needs the car for a particular purpose - such as undertaking regular long journeys - you must make it clear whether or not the vehicle is suitable. That said, as long as you were honest when communicating to the buyer, any alleged misrepresentation would be difficult for the buyer to prove.
What if the car breaks down soon after purchase?
In this case, to have any legal position, the buyer must prove that the car was not roadworthy at the time of purchase. One of the unavoidable risks of buying a used car privately is that it might break down soon afterwards, and the buyer might not have any legal recourse - unless they can prove they were deliberately misled.
Tips for arranging test drives
- Ensure the potential buyer is legally allowed to drive your car
- They must have a valid driving license
- They must be insured, perhaps with Driving Other Cars (DOC) cover; alternatively, your insurance must cover them to drive your vehicle
- Always accompany would-be buyers on test drives
- Don't leave them alone in the car with the keys, as there's an outside chance they will steal it
- Consider taking down the interested party’s name, address and phone number before any test drive
Tips for after the sale
Inform the DVLA of the change of ownership; the V5C certificate will explain what you need to send them.