Tips for selling cars on Auto Trader


Whether you’re a car dealer, mechanic, or a business within the motor trade industry, when it comes to selling cars, Auto Trader is your go-to. Selling a car on Auto Trader’s online car marketplace gives you access to the UK’s largest car buying demographic and is likely to get you the best price possible for your vehicle.

Auto Trader is highly rated for customer satisfaction – the company says sellers are twice as likely to shift their motors within a week of advertising on the site.

However, selling your car online does come with risks. There’s the potential to be targeted by thieves or scammers, and it’s vital to ensure you provide accurate information when selling your car, avoiding issues down the line.

When you’ve purchased your car, Insurance Choice is here to help, offering bespoke motor trade insurance designed to fit around a wide range of motor-based trades and individuals. We understand that a car is a considerable investment, so we’ve produced this handy guide to selling vehicles on Auto Trader safely.

Getting started

Before you advertise your car, it’s important to check you’re actually able to sell it. Any outstanding finance on the vehicle must be settled before you sell it on.

If you’re a dealer, valet, mechanic or business in the motor trade industry, you’ll know how vital it is to protect your vehicle, not only with reliable motor trade insurance, but also through regular, thorough upkeep. It goes without saying that you should only sell cars in tip-top condition.
Before advertising, ensure:

  • Your vehicle is spick and span, inside and out – empty crisp packets and smelly trainers aren’t appealing to buyers!
  • You’ve carried out a visual check, confirming the electrics are fully functional – this includes air-con, wipers, stereo and lights.
  • You check the tyres are in top condition, not forgetting the spare, should you have one.
  • You assess the mechanics are in good nick.
  • You consider getting any damage fixed – helps avoid quibbling with buyers.
  • Your car has recently had an MOT – this makes your vehicle more saleable.
  • You have the relevant paperwork: MOT certificates, the V5C logbook, details of any services or repairs carried out.

For car dealers, selling on Auto Trader provides access to a wider audience and increased exposure. The review function is a valuable aspect of the site, as it allows customers to offer feedback other potential buyers can look to when choosing a dealer. This is another reason to thoroughly prep your vehicles before sale, as positive feedback means more customers in the long run.

Of course, increased exposure means increased risk of theft, vandalism or scams, so ensure dealership vehicles are covered by quality motor trade insurance.
A damaged wing mirror of a car for sale

The V5C logbook

Whether you’re a motor trade business or an individual selling a car, having an up to date V5C form is essential.

The V5C provides a record of the Registered Keeper of the vehicle – the person taxing and registering the vehicle. The Registered Keeper may not be the same as the owner, although this is often the case.

It also includes forms that must be completed and sent to the DVLA, should the registered keeper or car itself be altered.
If you’ve lost your V5C, visit the government website to apply for a replacement.

How much does it cost to place an Auto Trader ad?

Auto Trader offers four packages in Great Britain, priced according to your car’s value:


A two-week advert, including up to 20 photos.

Advertising cost:
Cars up to £1,000 value: free
Cars £1,001-£10,000 value: £36.95
Cars over £10,000 value: £39.95


A three-week advert, including up to 20 photos. The Standard package also enables sellers to show up to eight photos in search results, and lets them promote their car on the mobile platform.

Advertising cost:
Cars up to £1,000 value: £9.95
Cars £1,001-£10,000 value: £46.95
Cars over £10,000 value: £49.95


A six-week advert, including up to 20 photos. The Premium package includes all of the Standard benefits, plus the ad is featured at the top of search results. Premium sellers’ cars will also be seen first in Auto Trader’s featured section.

Advertising cost:
Cars up to £1,000 value: £19.95
Cars £1,001-£10,000 value: £58.95
Cars over £10,000 value: £64.95


The advert remains active until your vehicle is sold, including up to 20 photos. You’ll get all the benefits of Premium membership, plus promotion on Auto Trader’s desktop platform, giving customers more chances to find your car.

Advertising cost:
Cars up to £1,000 value: £24.95
Cars £1,001-£10,000 value: £74.95
Cars over £10,000 value: £84.95

Two cars for sale on a forecourt of a motor trader
Placing an advert

Now you’ve done the necessary footwork, you can place your advert. Follow these three simple steps:

  1. Enter your registration

Auto Trader makes this process easy, automatically filling in details such as:

  • Body type
  • Age
  • Colour
  • Fuel type
  • Transmission
  • Make and model
  • Engine size


  1. Add vehicle description and photos

Now you’ll need to add photos of the vehicle, plus details for buyers to consider, such as service history, warranty information, MOT and mileage. You can also include any extra, optional features that might appeal to buyers, like heated seats, air-con, electric windows, rear parking sensors or sat-nav.
It’s worth noting, car dealers can also include details of the services they offer on their profile page - a good way to maximise profit and upsell to potential customers.
Remember that mis-describing a car is illegal, so make sure you’re honest in your description, flagging any issues you’re aware of.

  1. Contact details

It doesn’t matter if you’re a car dealer or an individual seller, don’t forget to add your contact details clearly somewhere in the ad. Give a mobile, landline and website if you can.

3 tips for a top advert

You may wonder why you’re only receiving a handful of enquiries once your car advert goes live. This may be because your ad isn’t clear or engaging enough.
Here are some handy hints for making your Auto Trader ad as effective as possible.

  • Keep it concise

Auto Trader recommends between 50 and 75 words as the ideal advert length. While details such as why you’re selling or the number of previous owners may be interesting to potential buyers, ensure the information you provide is pithy and straightforward.

  • Be professional

Keep your description focused on the vehicle you’re selling: avoid waffle, clichés, block capitals and overly technical language. You want your ad to be an easy reading experience for buyers, most of whom will want a quick overview of the most relevant facts and figures.

  • Make it visually appealing

Photos of a dirty car, taken on a rainy or overcast day, are less likely to entice potential buyers. Take a look at our photo-taking advice below to learn how to take the best shots.
 Someone holding a pair of car keys in their open hand after selling a car

How to take the perfect pictures

Visuals play a huge part in the buyer’s journey, grabbing their attention and (hopefully) providing extra information related to the product they’re interested in.

Buyers on Auto Trader will need to contact the sellers and arrange a viewing, if they’re interested in a car. All of this takes effort, so ensuring your advert has clear, appealing images makes buyers more likely to commit to a viewing.

To begin with, make sure your car is thoroughly cleaned. Try to use a good quality camera, able to take sharp shots that are in focus.

Photograph your vehicle on a dry, sunny day, in front of a relatively plain background. You want the car to be the main focus of your images, so avoid taking photos near other attention-grabbing objects or backdrops.

Pick a location in which you can photograph your vehicle from all angles with ease, and avoid taking snaps from a low crouch or high vantage point: you want the car to appear as it would when viewed from a natural height.

Auto Trader recommends taking plenty of pictures, including:

  • Front and rear corner
  • Side profile
  • Front and back head-on
  • Dashboard
  • Engine bay
  • Front and rear seats
  • Any damage

If you have a convertible, it’s a good idea to take shots of the vehicle with its roof both up and down so the customer can see that it works.

Staying safe

So, you’ve created the perfect car ad, now what? Once potential buyers start contacting you, you’ll need to arrange viewings.

There are several precautions you should take when showing your car, even if you’re an experienced dealer.

  • Make sure the buyer is genuine

Whether you’re a car dealer or an individual seller, remain consistently cautious when corresponding with buyers.
Always set up a meeting with the interested party, as they should want to see the car before making an offer. Ask any potential buyer for their contact information, such as their full home address, landline number and mobile number. Genuine buyers should have no problem complying.

  • Stay with your vehicle

Never allow a potential buyer to test drive your car alone – always join them. Ensure you ask them to bring a valid driving licence to the viewing, should they wish to test drive the vehicle, and make sure they have the necessary insurance cover – you don’t want to risk liability for any damage.
If you’re a car dealer, having reliable motor trade insurance is a necessity, providing protection against risks such as targeted vehicle theft and accidental damage caused during test drives.

  • Have all your paperwork to hand

Many buyers will want to see a V5C form, an MOT certificate and a record of service history. They may want to check the mileage figure on an up-to-date MOT certificate or the address listed on the V5C form.

  • Don’t rush

Make sure you keep your keys in sight at all times, taking them out of the ignition as soon as the test drive is complete. When you make a sale, don’t release your vehicle, keys or important documents until payment has cleared in your bank account.

  • Safety first

If you’re a private seller, or trading from home, don’t meet potential buyers in isolated or unfamiliar locations. Always arrange viewings somewhere familiar, such as your home or a public place you know well.
A car salesman handing over the keys to a newly sold car

How to accept payment for your vehicle

Online bank transfers are the best way to receive payment, according to Auto Trader. These allow for quick payment, but they do involve handing your bank details over to the buyer, which you may not feel comfortable doing.

You’re entitled to accept cash, but it’s best to play it safe: arrange the cash handover to take place at a bank, this way staff can verify the authenticity of the notes and count them accurately.

If you’re happy to receive payment via banker’s draft or cheque, ensure you have proof of the buyer’s address and name before going ahead. This means you can contact them if there’s any delay. Don’t release your vehicle until the payment has cleared in your bank account.

Another option is an ESCROW, where a third party takes the role of mediator between you and the buyer, receiving and distributing the payment. If you choose to do this, contact the Financial Conduct Authority first and check the company you’re using is legitimate.

No matter what, remember to provide the buyer with a receipt, retaining a copy for yourself, too. Ensure you let the DVLA know of the change to the vehicle’s ownership status, sending them the bottom section of your V5C form, giving the top section to the buyer. Notify your insurance provider as well, then delete your advert.

Stay covered

So, now you know how to set up your Auto Trader advert, how to maximise your chance of a sale and how to safely close the deal.

Whether or not you’re selling your car, vehicle ownership comes with risks. Around 468,315 vehicle thefts were recorded in the UK between March 2018-2019. Test drives may result in damage or an accident.

If you’re a mechanic, valet, car dealer or business operating within the motor trade industry, the risk is even greater: your vehicles are your livelihood. Here at Insurance Choice we understand how important reliable motor trade insurance is – you’ll be in safe hands.

Get a quote today.