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How to sell a car safely on eBay

Carlton Boyce / 09 February 2016 ( 19 March 2018 )

Make selling your car on eBay safe and easy with our guide to help you get a good price and avoid scammers.

Toy car resting on a keyboard to represent selling cars online
A common problem is a winning bidder who doesn’t contact you or turn up for the car. This is surprisingly common and hugely frustrating

At the time of writing, eBay Motors has a quarter-of-a-million vehicles listed on its UK website, with 3.5 million potential buyers browsing it every month. That’s an astonishing pair of statistics.

It’s not just for bargain-basement bangers either; I've seen a McLaren P1 on offer for a cool £1.75 million. Too expensive? How about a Porsche 918 at £1.5m then? (There are plenty of cars on there for a pound, too…)

Read our guide to selling your car in an auction

Given this, eBay should be an integral part of your strategy when it comes to selling your car privately. But, like all the best strategies, there are potential pitfalls. 

Here’s our guide to making sure you get the best possible price when selling a car in an online auction.

Prepare your car for sale

The first thing that potential bidders are looking for is a nice, clean car that they can jump straight into; as the car is new to them, the closer you can get it to looking like a brand-new one, the better they’ll feel about bidding top money for it.

So, a couple of hours cleaning, polishing and vacuuming it will pay dividends later.

It doesn’t have to be perfect. In fact, an over-prepared car might even repel buyers who assume it’s been polished within an inch of its life to hide something so go easy on the tyre black.

If your car is only good for the scrap yard, read our eights steps to scrapping your vehicle safely

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You can post up to 12 photographs of your car, so use every single one and make them all count. 

You’ll need shots of both sides of the car, as well as the front and back. Then photograph the engine bay, front seats, back seats, and boot. 

Use your remaining four photographs to show off any minor damage to the car. If there isn’t any, then a close-up of a wheel is always nice, along with a couple showing the tread on the tyres.

Photographs taken with your phone are easily good enough but please make sure they’re in focus and taken in decent light!

The car's description

It’s worth taking some time on the car's description. You need to be absolutely honest, but not undersell it either. 

So major on any new parts it’s had, how long the MOT that’s left on it is (if it has less than six months it’s worth putting a new one on), and the love you’ve lavished on it.

Walk around the car with the eBay checklist and make a note of all its scratches, dents, and dings, as well as all the good bits. 

Your buyer will see them eventually – and will expect there to be some! – so be honest.

Include a phone number if you’re comfortable doing so. It adds a layer of honesty, which will help drive up the car’s value.

Five optional extras that will add value when you come to sell your car

Listing the car on eBay

There is a very good guide on eBay Motors on listing your car on eBay, but here are a few pointers:

Decide whether you want to sell it via an auction, with people bidding on it, or by having a fixed price listing or a classified advert: it costs £10 to list a car with a Buy-it-Now or auction, plus 1% of the final value when it sells, while a classified advertisement costs £14.99 with nothing extra to pay.

It’s worth searching for cars like yours that have already been sold to try and gauge the market.

Be methodical. The listing process is foolproof (even if you know nothing about cars!) but it does take some time, so try and leave it until you know you have a free hour or so to enable you to complete it in one hit.

If you want the car paying for and collecting within a specific timeframe, mention it. Otherwise you might be waiting weeks…

Buying a car? Here are the scams to avoid...


If you are selling a car via an auction, think about the time you want the auction to finish. 

If you are a nighthawk and have listed it to finish in seven days’ time and it will end at 2:00am you are limiting your audience. However, if you use the ‘schedule’ feature, you can time it to finish at 9:00pm, a time when many more people are online.

Six petrol myths busted...

Viewing the car

Try and be flexible about viewing times and have the car’s service history to hand to show them how well you’ve looked after it.

We’ve covered car-selling scams before, but it’s important to remember that selling a car on eBay is no more risky than selling one anywhere else.

The payment

There are a few different ways to get paid, and each comes with its own benefits and drawbacks:

Cash is good, but you should pay it into your bank before handing over the keys to avoid being stung by counterfeit notes.

A direct bank transfer is safe and cheap, but do call your bank to check that the money is safely into your account.

Bank drafts and cheques should be a last resort and should clear before you complete the sale.

Have you heard about the petrol and rings scam?


The most common problem is a winning bidder who doesn’t contact you or turn up for the car. This is surprisingly common and is hugely frustrating. 

You’ll need to contact eBay who will deal with the matter and refund your fees. You will, however, have to go through the whole process of listing and selling it again.

If selling on eBay isn’t your thing and you prefer to do it the good old fashioned way, then be sure to read our guide on selling your car publicly. Alternatively, discover other ways to get rid of your old car, such as selling your car for scrap - or even donating it to charity!

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The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.