Feature article

10 FAQs for selling your car

Here are answers to your 10 most frequently asked car selling questions, and links to more in-depth answers.

Selling your car can feel like a daunting and complicated process, but it doesn’t have to be. We’ll make it easier for you by answering ten of your most frequently asked car selling questions.

1) What’s the best way to clean it?

You really want to avoid a dirty car spoiling, or soiling, your sale. To showcase your car at its best and entice buyers, here’s how to have it looking great:

  • Throw out any rubbish.
  • Remove personal items and clutter.
  • Vacuum thoroughly – even under mats.
  • Wipe interior surfaces.
  • Use window cleaner, inside and out.
  • Remove any leaves or mess from outside crevices.
  • Wash car body with good, soapy product.

As long as you’re not still intensively using the car, one thorough clean should do it and then you can simply maintain as you go along.

More info.

2) What photos of the car should I take?

Whilst you don’t need to use a fancy camera, you do need to take some good pics if you want a successful sale. Here’s our top ten:

  • Front – stand directly in front of your car.
  • Rear – stand directly behind.
  • Profile – photograph the side of the car and include all side panelling and tyres.
  • Engine – hood of the car open, engine displayed.
  • Boot – show the back of the car with the boot open.
  • Dash – sit in the rear seat and face forward to photograph the front interior.
  • Front seats – photograph the interior through an open window or door.
  • Rear seats – photograph rear seats from an open door or window.
  • Tyres – close up of the tyres and trims.
  • Steering wheel & odometer – a clear and straight on view of the steering wheel and odometer.

More info. 

3) Should I list as an auction or classified?

These are the two listing options – each comes with their merits, we’ll help you decide which is best for your sale.

  • Auction

A great way to sell your car quickly and competitively – healthy competition can raise the price. You set the reserve (minimum price you’ll accept) and buyers compete to buy your car by bidding on it. As long as the reserve is met, the highest bid wins.

More info. 

  • Classified

Set the asking price you want for your car. Buyers will contact you directly to try and negotiate a price that’s acceptable for all parties. A classified listing may take longer to sell your car than an auction as there’s no specified end date, but you’re still likely to get the price you want.

More info.

4) How do I write a great listing?

The more information you provide to pre-empt any buyer questions, the more buyers you’ll attract. The Background Check feature gives you a huge helping hand by showing various vehicle check results.

Fill out the mandatory details by entering the number plate and the rest will automatically be entered: make, model, year, size, safety rating (if a new enough model). Check all is correct, then confirm any on-road costs (registration, WoF, RUC) the new owner will incur.

Upload your awesome photos and give a comprehensive, honest overview of the car’s condition. Reveal how long you’ve owned the car and give your truthful reason for selling. Note any special/useful features and share fuel consumption details. Every detail helps the buyer feel empowered to close the sale.

More info.

5) What’s my car worth?

Our valuation tool will help you answer this question by showing what similar cars are selling for – helping you decide what you should ask for your own vehicle. Here’s how to use it:

  • Enter the car number plate and info pops up. 
  • Alternatively enter make, model, year and current odometer reading.
  • Instantly receive price estimate.
  • To see how similar cars compare, click on 'view listings' button. 

Consider anything that might make your own listing more enticing for buyers, e.g. few owners, good maintenance history, additional features/upgrades, low mileage, recent WoF or rego. Now price it competitively and watch it sell!

More info. 

6) How should I receive payment for my car?

You have three main options:

  • Bank transfer

Fast, convenient and gives you a record of the sale. Have the buyer transfer payment in front of you, and make sure to both sign a vehicle sale receipt.

  • Bank cheque

A rare way for someone to pay, but it does happen so be prepared. Take the cheque to your bank asap and deposit it as it may take a few days to clear. Maybe hold off on handing over the keys until it’s cleared and you have the money.

  • Cash

If you’re comfortable handling a large sum of money, cash is a great way to receive instant payment. Only accept this form of payment if you’re in a safe and secure environment, or even better if you can meet the buyer at a bank and make an instant deposit.

More info.

7) What if I still owe money on my car?

If you owe money on your car, it’s not the end of the world and you can still sell it – just be honest with your buyer about what’s owed. Most lenders will let you sell the car if the money owed goes directly to them as part of the sale, or the new owner is willing to take on the remaining balance.

More info.

8) How do I deal with potential buyers?

Potential buyers are going to ask a lot of questions, so make sure you know as much as you can about the car you’re selling and are as honest as possible in answers to their questions.

  • Viewings

Make sure you’re safe and secure when meeting strangers for car viewings – consider asking a relative or friend if they’ll accompany you when hosting viewings, and consider a different location if you’re not happy hosting buyers at home. Also, have the price you want in mind in-case the buyer makes a quick offer!

  • Test drives

Ensure your insurance policy covers test drivers and insist on seeing their drivers license, maybe even take a photo of it, before letting them drive the car. Agree how long they can test drive the car for and maybe even accompany them on the drive.

  • Pre-purchase inspection

If the buyer is interested and considering an offer, unless they’re knowledgeable about cars, they’re likely to organise a pre-purchase mechanical inspection. This is nothing to worry about and, provided the car is in acceptable condition, likely to help persuade them to close the deal.

More info. 

9) How do I negotiate a good price?

Whilst it’s lovely if a buyer meets your asking price, if you’d got a classified listing it’s likely that they’ll look to negotiate and get a better price. At the start of negotiations, have a figure you’re willing to accept in mind. Do your research with the price guide tool and know the sort of amount to realistically expect.

Negotiate by focusing on all positive aspects of the car, reasons why they’re getting a great deal, and don’t be afraid to say no if their offer is too low and one you can’t accept.

More info. 

10) What paperwork do I need when selling my car?

Here’s exactly what you’ll need and why you need it:

  • Change of ownership

To avoid any potential fines, parking or speeding tickets incurred being transferred to the new owner, a New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) change of ownership form needs to be completed upon closing the sale.

  • Insurance

Once the change of ownership papers are completed and the car is 100% sold, contact your insurance company and cancel insurance on the vehicle.

  • Registration

To be legally driven on NZ roads, all cars need to be registered. When registered, the car is inspected for safety, certified, added to the Motor Vehicle Register and, if required, licensed.

  • Vehicle licensing (rego)

Your buyer needs to drive away in a car that has an updated rego or they could be fined $200 by the NZ Police or parking enforcement. The rego is placed in the corner of a car windscreen. If your car doesn’t have a current rego, you should drop the asking price accordingly.

  • Warrant of fitness (WoF)

It’s illegal to drive a car without a current WoF, so make sure your buyer knows this. They can legally drive directly to a testing station or authorised mechanic to get one, but nowhere else. If your car has less than 28 days left on the WoF, you need to let the buyer know.

  • Road user charges (RUC)

Every diesel-powered car needs to have a current distance licence on the windscreen showing up-to-date payment of road user charges or mileage. If the RUC on your car has expired, you’ll need to update it before the buyer takes ownership or you’ll still be liable for the outstanding costs until it’s paid.

  • Vehicle sale receipt

Download a copy of our vehicle sale receipt and have both parties sign it so you’re both protected if there are any future problems. Include your names, the vehicle, price and the date and time.

More info. 

Knowledge is power

Now that you’ve got all of these answers, we hope you feel confident and secure in selling your car. And be sure to check out our full selling advice for even more helpful advice!