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How to sell your car privately

Jun 2, 2015

used car for saleAs people’s budgets come under increasing pressure, the number of people who can afford to buy new cars is dwindling fast. With banks financing two used cars for every new car purchase, the second-hand car market is booming. If you want to sell your car privately, here’s what you need to know.

There are several things you need to take into consideration when selling your car privately:

1. Pricing

You need to make sure that your car is priced correctly. You don’t want to risk over-pricing the car and then having it sit on the market for far longer than it should. Neither do you want to under-price your car, only to realise too late that you could have sold it at a far higher price. Take your car to a dealer to find out what the dealer would pay for it. Remember that the dealer will consider the fair valuation of your car based on the model and the recommended price as per the Transunion Dealer’s Guide (commonly referred to as the “blue book”). You can buy a valuation report from The first valuation report is free and subsequent reports will cost you R10 each.

Other factors that will be considered include the mileage, accident history and general condition of the car. The dealer will also offer you a price that allows him to still earn a profit margin when he sells the car. If you sell privately, don’t forget to build this profit margin into your price. You can typically expect to get 10 to 15% more for your car if you sell privately, compared to what you would get if you sold the car directly to a dealer. Look around at dealers’ websites and sites such as Autotrader to find out what similar models are selling at.

When you’re pricing your car, take into account extras that you may have installed such as a sound system, mags or any other upgrades. Be sure to mention to any prospective buyer details such as new tyres that you may have bought shortly before deciding to sell the car. Also, set your price a little higher than what you are actually looking for so that you have room to negotiate with potential buyers.

2. Roadworthiness

Usually the onus is on the buyer to request and pay for a roadworthy test on your car. A roadworthiness test can be carried out by Dekra and will cost R407. If you want to sell your car quickly and reassure a buyer that the car is in good condition, you can opt to have a multipoint check at Dekra for R493. This is a more detailed inspection than the roadworthy test and includes a 101-point check. Note that if you are an AA member, you qualify for a 15% discount on roadworthy tests.

Be upfront about the accident history of the car, if applicable. Remember that the buyer will trust you more if you are upfront than if they find out about the accident history when they run the car’s details via police records.

3. Cleanliness is worth money

Before you approach a dealer or invite a potential buyer to view the car, make sure it has been cleaned as thoroughly as possible. It may cost R200 to R400 depending on the size of your car, but taking it to the car wash for a full valet service will prove worth your while when you are haggling over the price.

4. Sales platforms

There are several different platforms you can use when you choose to sell your car privately:

  • The most popular website is The cost of advertising privately via this website varies according to the package you choose. For example, if you choose to advertise for two weeks, it will cost you R150. Note that prices vary if you are based in Gauteng. If you opt for other options such as also advertising in the Autotrader magazine, or maintaining your ad for a longer period or until the car is sold, your costs will go up.
  • Free websites such as gumtree or olx.
  • A classified ad in your local newspaper.
  • A “for sale” sign with your contact number in your car window.

5. The advertisement

When you word your advert, you need to include the following information:

  • The exact type of car, including the engine size and body style
  • The year and registration
  • The car’s mileage and colour
  • The number of owners. This can be a factor that influences both the price and desirability of the car. For example, if the car had one owner who only used it for small trips on a daily basis, it would be a better purchase than a similar car that had three owners, one of whom used the car for long-distance work trips.
  • Equipment that’s fitted, such as air-con, alloy wheels, satellite-navigation system, etc

6. Safety precautions

Meet potential buyers at a public place during the day and take someone with you. Ask for a copy of their identity document and driver’s license upfront. This should be a copy that you can keep with you and not just a document that is shown to you for five minutes. This precaution means that you have proof of identity if things go south, for example, if the buyer crashes your car or attempts to hijack you.

Check with your insurance company that you are covered for other drivers before you allow a potential buyer to test-drive the car. Never hand over the keys to the buyer until you are seated in the passenger seat.

7. Payment

Be wary of buyers who agree to make full payment without viewing the vehicle. A common scam is the buyer who makes a “deposit” into your account and then collects the vehicle, only for you to find that the cheque has bounced or that it was not a valid deposit. Insist on the buyer viewing the vehicle. This also allows you an opportunity to screen the buyer and obtain a copy of their identity documentation (see step 6).

You should wait until funds have cleared in your account before you release the vehicle. Ask your bank to notify you once the full payment has been cleared. A legitimate buyer will understand the need for this and will be patient.

If the buyer offers to pay you cash, arrange to conclude the transaction and hand over the vehicle at the nearest police station. Or you can conclude the transaction at the bank so that you can deposit the money into your account in the buyer’s presence and the cashier can also verify that it is not counterfeit money.

8. Documentation

When you sell your car privately, you need to provide the buyer with the original registration papers, a declaration or proof that the vehicle has been paid off in full (ie, that the car is not under any hire purchase agreement and is owned by you and not the bank), and a receipt or agreement of sale. The receipt needs to include the following information:

  • The date
  • The amount paid
  • The make and model of car sold
  • The car’s registration
  • The names and addresses of both the buyer and seller

It is definitely worth your while to ensure that a “change of ownership” form is filled out and handed in to the nearest vehicle licensing centre. This form is important as the car now legally belongs to someone else and you can no longer be held liable for any traffic fines etc. You also need to hand over the car’s handbook and service records as well as records of the warranty, if the car is still under warranty.

This article originally appeared in City Press.


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Maya Fisher-French author of Money Questions Answered

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