It has never been simpler to sell your car online. There's a multitude of car sales sites, many of which will give you a free car valuation based on current market values. Some will even take all the hassle out of selling the car yourself by making you an instant offer.
Whether you love the thrill of negotiating a sale or just want someone to give you a fair price; whether you’re happy to wait for the right buyer or need a fast car-to-cash conversion, your computer keyboard is the place to begin.
What to expect when selling your car online
Selling your car online is getting easier to navigate.
“There are a lot of convenience products starting to come into the market,” says Ross Booth, Global General Manager of automotive research specialists RedBook, but he warns that an online car sale brings with it a certain amount of work.
“I’m always going to sell [my cars] privately, because I’ll make more money out of it, but it’s an inconvenient sales process.”
After posting an advertisement online, you must be prepared to take enquiries, be available to show people the car, manage test drives, and negotiate to get as close as possible to the price you’ve decided is fair.
Many online sites now provide an instant-offer option: after you’ve keyed in your car’s details, you receive an offer. Once the car’s condition has been verified, the buyer takes the car and you receive payment. This speeds up the process and saves you from dealing with multiple buyers; however, you should expect to get a little less for the car than you would in a private sale.
Where to sell your car online
When it comes to selling your car through online classified sites, it can be hard to know where to begin. As with any online transaction, it pays to research online reviews, take recommendations from friends and stick with major, well-known brands. In Australia, these include:1
Scams are always a risk with online sales, whether you’re buying or selling. Learn how to help protect yourself at Scamwatch.2
Helpful tips for a successful sale
If you’re committed to selling your car online, here are a few best practices that will help the process run smoothly and safely.
Decide on your car valuation
Calculate your car’s value with one of the many free car valuation tools now available online. Research expert tips on other factors that will help you refine your price, take depreciation into account and consider adding a small amount to the asking price to give you some wriggle room when negotiating. (Market value for insurance purposes will be determined by your insurer.)
Include a detailed description in your online car ad
Describing your car’s condition and good points in detail should help attract more serious buyers – the kind who want to know as much as possible so they can make an informed decision. In addition to the usual make, model, year, price and condition, include the following in your description:
- Any major or minor issues (with the body of the car, with accessories such as aircon, or with the mechanics)
- Any accidents not reported in the car’s documented history
- Any recent repairs or improvements (new battery or alternator, a custom steering wheel)
- The condition of the tyres.
Have the necessary paperwork to hand
Buyers will always appreciate a well-prepared seller, so make sure you have the following documents ready:
- Registration papers
- Transfer of ownership form
- Car manual and service logbook
- Roadworthy certificate in states that require it (some require a certificate only for cars over a certain age)
- Receipts for any work or improvements you’ve made to the car
- Any reports you’ve chosen to obtain. For example, a Personal Property Securities Register report verifies the car has no debt against it, while a comprehensive valuation report from a reputable site will show the buyer that your asking price is based on thorough research.3 (Be aware that such reports may incur a fee.)
Take photos and make a video
Photos of every angle, including both the interior and the exterior, will showcase what your car looks like and demonstrate transparency, but most potential buyers will also want to know how it sounds and drives.
This is where a quality video comes in. Get a friend to stand safely on the footpath and film you (with sound on!) while you start the car and drive a short distance, demonstrating that your indicators and brake lights work. Not only is this a great way to eliminate unnecessary questions (such as, "Does it start OK?"), but it can also build your credibility as a committed seller and help your ad stand out from the crowd.
Stay safe on the test drive
Before scheduling a test drive, be sure to take all reasonable precautions to make sure you, your car and the potential buyer remain as safe as possible out on the road. Also, take a look to see if your car insurance policy covers you in the event of an accident. Once you have the all clear, arrange to meet in a public location and bring someone along with you.
Help protect yourself against fraud during the sales process
Unfortunately, there are plenty of scams that target online car sales.4 These can include fake buyers and fraudulent sellers.5 Always take the following precautions and act quickly if something feels wrong:6
- Never open a link sent to you from a potential buyer via email, text or other.
- Be suspicious if the buyer only wants to conduct business via email. Encourage them to inspect on site and conduct the transaction in person.
- Do not agree to forward funds to a third party.
- Inform the prospective buyer that you will only accept a bank transfer, not cash.
- Ask the person to bring their driver licence and some other form of government-issued ID (Medicare card, passport), and check these before allowing the test drive.
- Make sure you see the bank transfer arrive in your account and your balance go up before filling in the transfer of ownership form and handing over all sets of keys.
With the help of these expert tips, selling your car online could be easier than ever before. When you’re ready for your next set of wheels, check out Youi’s range of car insurance options to see if there’s a policy that meets your needs.
Article by guest writer Natalie Filatoff
1 Source: Canstar Blue – Where to buy, trade-in and sell your car online in Australia
2 Source: National Anti-Scam Centre – Protect yourself
3 Source: Personal Property Securities Register – Why register on the PPSR?
4 Source: National Anti-Scam Centre – Losses to car ad scams climbing, April 2021
5 Source: WA Government – Online car sales scam (fake buyer)
6 Source: National Anti-Scam Centre – What to do if you've been scammed