Getting your car ready to sell can be an overwhelming task, especially when you don't know the right steps to take.

But doing some preparation before you put your car on the market could help ease the process and even boost the price.

If you're wondering what your next step is and how you can get there in the most hassle-free way, check out our guide below.

What to Prepare Before Selling a Car

When you're preparing to sell your car, there's a handful of questions you can ask yourself to make sure you're on the right track.

Is the car in a safe and legal condition?

The first thing you can look at is whether or not the car you're selling is in a safe and legal condition. For registered vehicles, this can be done through an independent safety certificate inspection.

Getting a safety certificate, otherwise known as a roadworthy certificate, means the vehicle meets safety standards.

Safety certificates can be done by approved inspectors and checks usually include: [1]

  • Tyres

  • Brakes

  • Steering

  • Suspension

  • Body rust or damage

  • Windscreen

  • Lights

When you start advertising your car, you should let potential buyers know that it's had a safety certificate issued.

Not only does this help build trust, but it might be a legal requirement in your state or territory - unless your vehicle is exempt. You might also need a vehicle transfer form in some situations to complete the sale. 

Before the registration is transferred over, it's also important to make sure you're upfront about whether or not there's any money left to be paid on the car to avoid issues down the track.

Make sure you also know how to manage your car insurance policy before putting your car on the market. You'll need to quickly and easily transfer your insurance from your old car to the new one once the sale is complete.

Do you need to repair any broken or defective parts?

If your registered vehicle is found to be unsafe or defective in any way, then you have a few options.

You can either get it repaired, sell it to an auto dealer, sell it to a dismantler for parts or sell it unregistered. [1]

When you're choosing what path to take, make sure you weigh up whether the cost of repairs will be worth the cost of the sale.

For instance, repairing chipped paint or having small dents removed can have a huge impact on the overall look of the car and potentially increase the market value for a quick sale.

But if the cost of repairs and the time it takes is more than what you estimate you would get for the car, then it might be worth looking at other options.

Determining the value of your car can help you to decide what you should choose to make sure you're getting the best deal possible.

Do you need to clean your car?

A clean car can be much more appealing to a buyer than one that looks like it's been through the wringer.

Properly cleaning your car before putting it up for sale might be the difference between selling it for an average price and selling it for a great price.

The pre-sell clean could include:

  • Washing your car

  • Polishing your car to bring out the shine

  • Cleaning windows on the inside and outside

  • Cleaning inside the cabin (particularly for smokers or those with pets)

  • Vacuuming the interior

  • Removing, vacuuming and cleaning floor mats

  • Cleaning seats, door trims and dash

  • Cleaning under the seats and getting rid of anything inside

If you don't want to do it yourself, you can always pay to get your car professionally detailed. The price can vary depending on what you get done, but you can at least expect a wash and wax, vacuum, window clean and surface polish.

Do you have a full service history?

Handing over a full service history might not only bump up the price of your car but it could also build trust with the buyer.

Try to make sure you have the car's service history, logbook and receipts for repairs ready to hand over when the sale is completed.

If the logbook is missing or incomplete, it can be tricky to track down the vehicle history. But, if you know the mechanic where the car was serviced, you can ask for a history to be sent to you.

You can also contact the car maker and give them the vehicle identification number to see which dealer originally sold it and go from there. [2]

Budget Direct also offers a free PPSR car history test that can provide your buyer with important details including confirmation that the vehicle hasn't been subject to a write-off in the past.

If your car manual is missing you can get a replacement from a dealership, manufacturer or third-party seller.

How to Sell Your Car

Whether you're selling your vehicle privately, to a dealer or to an interstate buyer, there are plenty of ways to get the job done. To make sure you're doing it in the right and legal way, check out our tips below.

Selling a Car Privately

While selling a registered vehicle privately can be tricky, doing your research can make the process a whole lot easier.

With more admin requirements, going private can mean a lot more time and energy than other options, but you could see a higher return in the end.

In most states and territories in Australia, you'll need a vehicle transfer form and a safety certificate to legally sell a registered vehicle to a new owner.

The rules for selling cars differ depending on where you live, so here's a quick rundown of the steps you should take depending on the state or territory.


What the Seller Needs to Do

Qld [1]

  • Get current safety certificate (or certificate of inspection for heavy vehicles)

  • Hand over registration transfer form

  • Get gas certificate (only for cars with LPG)

NSW [3]

  • Get current safety inspection report

  • Provide proof of sale

  • Submit notice of Disposal form within 14 days

  • Have buyer complete registration transfer form

WA [4]

  • Complete change of ownership vehicle licence transfer form

  • Give buyer’s copy to the buyer and submit seller’s copy within seven days

Vic [5]

  • Get roadworthy certificate

  • Submit vehicle transfer form and notice of disposal within 14 days

  • Keep copy of registration to prove right of transfer

NT [6]

  • Submit notice of disposal within 14 days

  • Provide proof of ownership

Tas [7]

  • Submit disposal notice or application for transfer of vehicle registration forms within seven days

SA [8]

  • Submit notice of disposal to authorise transfer for registration within 14 days

  • Cancel registration

ACT [9]

  • Submit vehicle transfer form and notice of disposal within 14 days

  • Provide proof of acquisition

There are also different rules when you sell a vehicle to an interstate buyer which is why it's so important to confirm the buyer before handing the vehicle off.

When selling privately, make sure you've removed the toll account that's linked to the car, deal with transfer forms if you have personalised number plates and notify your car insurance company about the change.

You should also account for extra costs that could pop up when you sell cars privately. For instance, while you can get free ads online, paying to promote your ad could rank it above others and even reach a wider audience.

A buyer can either pay cash or they can have the money transferred directly into your bank account. 

Either way, it's always best to get the payment in full and make sure the money has cleared in your account after being paid before handing the keys over to the new owner.

Selling a Car Online

It's now easier than ever to sell a vehicle online whether it's through a car-specific website or a marketplace such as Facebook or Gumtree. But going online can come with plenty of admin.

Photos can be a great place to start. Take the time to take high-quality pictures of your car to entice potential buyers.

You should also include photos of the interior, exterior and under the bonnet to be as upfront as possible about the vehicle's condition.

In your description of the vehicle make sure you try to include:

  • Make, model, year and build

  • Odometer reading

  • Safety features

  • If it has a roadworthy

  • If it's been written off

  • Type of transmission and engine

  • If it's still under warranty

  • How long is left on the registration

  • Any standout features such as high-tech specs and other standard car details

While a buyer is usually the one looking out for scams online, it's also important for the seller to be cautious.

Make sure the person you're dealing with is authentic before transferring any forms or sending any of your details including bank details or home address.

Meeting up in person is always the most ideal option when selling a car online, but where that's not possible, a phone call or video chat with the buyer is usually the next best thing.

Selling a Car to a Car Dealer

Selling your car to a dealer is usually the easiest option because it removes all the effort of speaking with potential buyers, organising forms and advertising.

It also means you can sell your car right away without waiting around for the right buyer to show interest. However, with less effort comes less money as dealers will usually take a percentage of the sale.

Generally, when going through a dealer, all you have to do is choose one and take the car in to get an instant offer.

But taking the time to find a specific dealer for your car could mean you could get a higher return for your sale. Whether it's a Toyota dealer or a dealer that specialises in four-wheel drives, finding the right purchaser could work to your advantage.

You might also have the option to trade your old car in for a new one which could be great if you're looking to upgrade to something a bit more expensive going forward. [10]

Key Takeaways

Prepare To Sell

Getting your car ready to be sold can be time-consuming. But putting the effort into selling your vehicle privately could mean the difference between an average selling price and a top sale.

Getting it cleaned, organising repairs, putting together a service history and completing safety checks can be key to making sure the vehicle can be sold at the highest purchase price possible.

Choose How to Sell

There are several ways to get a vehicle off your hands, but the tricky part can be deciding which one might suit your situation.

While selling vehicles privately comes with more time and hassle including advertising, organising payments, deciding on a price and transferring the registration to the new owner, you might also get more money.

Meanwhile, selling to a dealer takes all that hassle away, but it also can be subject to a lower selling price.

Know the Steps to Take

Each state and territory have slightly different ways of going about selling a vehicle. Whether it's the forms you need or the period of time you have to do the transfer, there's plenty to wrap your head around.

Doing the right research is key before you even decide to put your car up for sale to make sure all the additional admin and money will be worth it.