Selling a vehicle privately

It has been ages since I bought or sold a car or motorbike privately but recently I've been in the position of having to sell my deceased mother-in-law's car.

I never imagined it would so full of pitfalls and problems. A colleague sold their car recently via ebay classifieds so we thought we try that first - cheaper than autotrader (about £18).

The first problem is what is the value. I didn't think it would be much of a problem in this case as although we are talking about a 3 year old car (only just out of warranty) it has only done 6000 miles and has been garaged (although run out regularly to keep it ticking over) for 16 months and really was immaculate with one previous owner. It had also been serviced 600 miles ago and had 10/11 months tax/mot. So my wife went through all the car valuation sites and came up with a list of 6 valuations and we picked a price slightly higher than the average (and bear in mind the valuations varied by as much as £1000).

Ad posted on ebay you sit back and wait and then it all starts. People started contacting us from all over the country (sometimes hundreds of miles away) saying they were interested but would be travelling a long way and only had £xx so it was not worth viewing until we'd agreed to accept their lowly offer. So straight away your thinking someone is at best out for a bargin but why would they travel 100s of miles for a normal production (not prestige) car.

Then all the sites you were forced to sign up to to get a valuation start mail bombing you and are probably selling your contact details on too. All of a sudden your getting emails about car warranties, car insurance, car auctions etc. Ok, no surprise but blumin annoying.

Then there is the email/message aspect of selling something on ebay. It seems that people lose all ability to read an ad and just email off a set of questions about the vehicle the majority of which are actually answered in the ad.

So, 2 weeks in and no one has come to see the car so we put an ad up on autotrader and reduce the price a little. There is a lot of things better about autotrader ads but mainly it boils down to a few facts a) it is just for vehicles b) you can attach a load of photos (much more than ebay) c) there is a magazine too (oops, they've just stopped that) and d) you can actually put a set of phone numbers on the ad and they re-route them for you filtering out the usual suspects of firms offering to sell your car for you. Of course you pay a premium - £48.

So, does anyone ring? No, not for the the first 2 weeks. Quite a few emails suggesting it isn't worth coming to look at "that price" but yeah, it is easy to do this via email but in person it is another thing.

Then out of nowhere we get what initially looks like a promising email but I'm uneasy about it and finally we get the following:

"Thanks for the prompt response.I'm Okay with the condition of the Car, as i have already go through it on the ad but just trying to make little inquiry from you ready to buy it now as a gift for my Daughter, I'm at sea at the moment as I'm a Navy Officer,and due to the nature of my calls making and visiting of website are restricted but i squeezed out time to check this advert and send you a Text regarding it. I really want it to be a surprise for my Daughter i won't let her know anything about it until it gets delivered to her, i am sure she will be more than happy with it. I insisted on paypal because i don't have access to my bank account online as i don't have internet banking, but i can pay from my paypal account, as i have my bank a/c attached to it,Get back to me with your paypal email and the price so i can proceed with the payment quickly, and sorry if you don't have an Account, you sign-up for a paypal personal account www.paypal.comit is very fast and easy to set up. And there is a shipping company pick up agent that will come for the pick up after the payment has been sorted out.


Oh, please! One quick search for a sentence taken at random and we find the exact same text except instead of a car it is an amplifier or guitar etc.

Next we have the dealers. People who ring and are obviously just running through a huge list of questions and you can hear them tapping in the answers on their computer as you go. Of course, when challenged they might own up to being a dealer but really that is coincidental and they are looking for a specific car for a friend - yeah, right. Even more obvious is the tenacity of some of these people. As soon as you suggest you are wary and uncomfortable they come straight back with promises to a) send you a copy of their passport - why? b) walk to the bank with you and transfer the money and by the way it won't matter who you bank with as they have accounts at Lloyds, barclays, Halifix etc. Just too pushy and keen for my liking.

Then there is our situation where the car is not actually in our name as it was my mother-in-laws. We thought about transferring it into our name but then adds another owner and the car only had 1 previous owner. We are executors of the will and we have probate so we are legally entitiled to sell the car. But for potential buyers this is a problem - it sounds like a scam. You can explain the circumstances but then you are giving too much detail and autotrader and various sites suggest being wary of people giving too much background.

So almost 3 weeks in you are so suspicious of anyone who rings you almost end up in the reverse situation when you are asking more questions than they are. It is a totally abhorent situation. And all the time your house looks like a car lot as your moving the vehicle for sale around all the time just so you can get into your garage.

Anyway, out of the blue after fending off a few calls from people who are travellling all the way from Bristol (hundreds of miles away) and can only offer far less than you are asking, a real person phones up. I now know you can identify the "real" potentional buyers because althoughtthey might ask a few questions to avoid wasting their time their primary focus is actually coming and seeing the vehicle. 30 - 45 minutes later potential buyers arrive, we agree a price and the vehicle is sold - they called to pay in cash and collect the vehicle the next day. Thank god for people who just want to buy a car for themselves.

So, in the end all is well. The people who bought the car were so different from all the scammers and pretenders it was obvious and although there was a little haggling it was hardly really hard ball. The main thing is they came to see it.

So now I've got another vehicle to sell - OMG.