Tips For Selling Your Car Safely On The Autotrader.

In this article, we share helpful advice and tips on how to keep yourself safe from fraud, when selling your car privately on the Autotrader.

When you decide that the price we can offer for your car isn’t quite enough for you than advertising your vehicle on the Autotrader is probably your next port of call.

The Autotrader has been in existence since 1977.

Originally launched as Thames Valley Trader, it’s gone on to be arguably Britain’s best known and most trusted website to advertise your car privately on.

They have made a series of useful video guides to selling your car privately, we’ve linked to them in this article.

Underneath each one, we have written a few extended pointers of our own, gained from dealing with private sellers on a day to day basis.

We’ve shared some of their experiences below.



Taking Payment

Bank Transfer

Make sure you only accept payment by faster bank transfer and ask for proof of the type of payment made. Not all online payments are guaranteed, bacs, for example, can be recalled.

Don’t accept any bank print or screenshot as payment.

Check with your bank to make sure you’ve been paid in full, and those funds have cleared the banking system.



Our advice would be not to take cash.

Cash has the potential for the most heartache in our experience.

It’s time-consuming to count all those notes physically, so they recommend going to the bank with your buyer.

But not all banks will agree to check each note for you as you pay them in.  Several days may pass between paying it in and being informed that the cash is fake.

And It’s now illegal for a third party to pay cash into your account on your behalf, so all the responsibility is yours.

If this happens, you won’t get the money back, and you’ll have to pursue the purchaser to pay you again.

But if they are passing on fake notes that they have received for the sale of their car they might not have the money to pay you.

Be extra aware of people offering cash, think about where this cash might have come from and be aware of money laundering limits (at time of publishing £8800.)

Know what your obligation is under the law should you suspect this cash may have come from illegal activity.


Outstanding Finance.

In the video, Andy Pringle from the Autotrader explains that you need to make sure you have clear title.

His tip is to pay off any finance first.

But how? In our experience, most of you won’t have the cash on hand to pay off your finance company.

So the easiest way to deal with that is to get a finance settlement letter from your finance company showing the amount outstanding and ask your buyer to pay that direct.

You should ask them to send you a PDF by email and make sure that your settlement figure shows the current registration number of your car.

If you put a private plate on it after signing the agreement most people forget to update the details with their finance company and so sometimes these won’t match.

So ask that they include your cars chassis number in the settlement letter.

Also, make sure that they attach the correct bank details to that letter so that your buyer can arrange to make the payment.


Types of Payment.

We recommend that you ask your buyer to make the payment by “faster payment.”

Not a bacs payment as the bank can recall these.

Don’t let them pay by credit card or bank card over the phone.

Buyers have been known to deny knowledge of the transaction to the card company leaving you to pursue them, and also there’s always the risk of stolen cards.

In either case, you’ll need to get the finance company on the phone and get some confirmation that they have received cleared funds.

Make sure you get an email or letter from the finance company which has all your cars details, your settlement agreement number and a statement that says “we can confirm we have no further interest in this vehicle.”





Remember to give your buyer a receipt for payment, and this should include all the details of the car such as registration number, chassis, engine number, date of registration, number of owners and displayed mileage. It’s a good idea to include the description from your original advert, but make sure the description of your car is correct to avoid confusion later on.

Note putting sold as seen doesn’t exonerate you from your legal liability’s.

Proof Of ID

Take proof of id and address such as a driving licence and a utility bill, and you’ll need these if your buyer gets charged with a traffic offence on his way home as you’ll have to prove you weren’t driving it at the time or responsible for who was.

Put the time and date on your receipt and get the customer to sign it and keep a copy.

The V5 registration Document

Complete this online at the time of the sale here.

Private Plates

Make sure you do your number plate retention online at the DVLA before you sell your car, it only takes about a week, costs £80 ( which covers putting it onto another vehicle) Don’t trust your buyer to do this for you unless they are in the trade (like us).


Vetting Buyers.

When you advertise your car, especially a high-value car, you’re also advertising that you can afford to own it and therefore are more likely to have a few other nice possessions.

So you need to be careful about letting people into your home and giving them access to your car keys, documentation and more.

Example scams

The moral is really to trust no one, keep your wits about you, and look out for distractions.

In the video above, they suggest meeting someone at a location that you’re familiar with, but how comfortable would you be if 4 or 5 people got out of your buyer’s car in the local pub carpark?

In Summery

We don’t feel that selling a high-value car privately is the way to go but seeing as you have decided to take this route, please stay safe, keep your patience ( you’ll need it) and good luck with your sale.

The doors always open if you’d like us to take another look at it.

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