Buying and selling a car without the stress

The new 67 registration plates will be available from 1 September, making it a popular month to splash out on a new car.

Woman and man buying new car

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But what do you need to do to sell your old car, and buy a new one, safely and securely?

How much is your car worth?

To get an idea of how much you could get for your vehicle, check out similar cars for sale online. Don’t forget that your vehicle’s value can be affected, and possibly reduced, by its age, condition and mileage – particularly if the mileage is high.

It can be convenient to trade your car in when you buy a new one from a dealer – this is known as a part exchange. But you’re unlikely to get the best price, as the dealer will be aiming to make a profit when they sell your car on.

Selling your car privately

You could get a better price by selling your car privately, but it’s a lot more hassle. You’ll need to advertise the car for sale, deal with potential buyers and accompany people on test drives.

Once you’ve found a buyer, there’s the tricky conundrum of how to accept payment. Be wary of taking a cheque, or accepting a wad of notes, and handing your vehicle over straight away. A bank transfer might be a more sensible and secure option.

Be cautious of anyone keen to buy your car despite not having seen it, or a buyer who wants the car shipped overseas  – there are plenty of scams about, so don’t be caught out.

Getting your paperwork right

You must tell the DVLA you no longer own the car. Otherwise, you could get landed with the new owner’s driving offences or parking tickets. You can notify the DVLA of a change in ownership via post or online.

As the seller, you’ll need to fill out section 2 of your car’s V5C document (also known as the logbook) then tear it off and give it to the new owner as proof of the transfer of ownership. 

Then, to inform the DVLA that the car has been sold by filling fill in sections 6 and 8 of the V5C and putting the form in the post. Or, if that seems like unnecessary hassle, you can inform the DVLA online.

Give the new owner the car’s handbook, keys, service history, and the MOT certificate.

You can’t transfer road tax to a new owner, but you can get a refund for any unused months.

How to buy a car

What can you afford?

Brand new cars are the most expensive, because you pay more to be a car’s first owner. Used cars are much cheaper, but are often not in perfect condition.

In general, if you’re buying a used car you’ll need to pay for it with cash or by using a personal or car loan. You can either buy a new car outright or via various finance or leasing options.

Budget for running costs

Don’t forget to include running costs in your budget. How much will the tax cost? What about insurance be? How much will you spend on fuel?

You will also need to pay for an MOT and a service each year, so remember to factor this in.

Buying your new car privately

Before you start looking at vehicles, it’s worth checking price guides and comparing similar cars in the classifieds – you don’t want to end up paying over the odds. Be wary of anything that seems like a bargain, or has a very low mileage for its age. If a deal looks too good to be true, then it probably is.

You should always do a test drive before you buy a car. Try the car out in various conditions, such as stopping and starting in slow traffic and driving faster on a dual carriageway.

Leasing options

Leasing enables you to drive a brand new car by paying for it monthly. There are two main types of car leasing deals – personal contract hire (PCH) and personal contract purchase (PCP).

With a PCH agreement, you’ll usually need to pay three months’ rental in advance, and then make monthly payments. You never own the vehicle and you have to give it up at the end of the term.

PCP agreements work in a similar way to PCH, except that you’ll have the option to buy the vehicle at the end of the term in exchange for a “balloon” payment.

Sticking to the law

Vehicle excise duty can no longer be transferred to buyers, so you’ll need to tax any car you buy straight away.

You must also have car insurance, as a legal requirement. If you sell a car and buy a new one, there are two ways of arranging the insurance. Firstly, you could ask the insurance company you’re currently with to switch your policy to your new car. You’ll have to pay an administration fee plus any extra premium.

Or, you could cancel your insurance policy, receive a refund for any unused months (minus an administration fee), and then shop around for a new policy for your new car.

Either way, it’s important to take care of all your paperwork and admin as soon as you can, so you can enjoy your new car without worrying.

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