Used car selling guide

We have prepared this comprehensive car seller checklist to help you sell your car

We've got advice on car preparation, car cleaning, car service, car price guide, car advertising, car inspections and documentation.

1. Car preparation

A little time spent now can be worth hundreds of dollars on the sale price. First impressions count. Imagine yourself as the buyer and ask yourself:

  • Does the car appear looked after - is it clean?
  • Has the car been serviced recently?
  • Are their receipts to show any work or servicing that's been done?
  • Is the asking price reasonable considering the make, model, age and condition?

What’s important to you as a buyer should also be what you need to do to prepare the car for sale.

Car cleaning

It's common sense. The main point is to put that extra effort into getting into all those hard to reach places that often get missed on the routine clean.

If you can afford it, getting the car groomed can bring results that would otherwise take you hours and hours with the bucket and sponge. You’ll find car groomers in the Yellow Pages.

Car service history

Dig out all the receipts you have for any past servicing work or maintenance. If you can afford it get the car serviced. Buyers will feel reassured if you show you’ve had the car serviced regularly and have completed maintenance at manufacturer recommended intervals i.e. the cam belt replacement.

Setting your price

Now comes crunch time – how much is the car worth? How much should you ask for it? Be realistic – is it in tip top condition, or at best "average". Check out similar cars online and start to get a feel for the price range for car of the same make, model, age and condition. This range is going to become your negotiating range.

For $19.95 you can get an AA Vehicle Valuation which will give you an approximate fair market value.

Now decide what your asking price will be and the minimum amount you'd accept. If you've got plenty of time and can afford to wait for the best deal then your prices are likely to be higher than if you need to sell the car quickly.

Warrant of Fitness

When selling your car, the Warrant of Fitness (WoF) has to be no more than 28 days old, unless both you and the buyer agree and contract out of this requirement. Find a location to get a WoF with the AA.

2. Listing your car for sale 


You're going to need two types of information –  the facts about the car and features that will appeal to buyers.


Facts include make, model, year, body type (sedan/coupe/hatchback etc.), engine capacity, transmission (manual/automatic), fuel type (petrol/diesel), mileage (KM travelled), general condition and colour. Factual information like NZ new or imported, number of drivers, date next WoF due and the date the next registration is due is also important.

Features that will attract buyers include, for example, “Four new tyres two months ago, serviced regularly by manufacturer, tow bar and roof rack included, never damaged” etc.

Above all, be honest, and that means include information that a buyer will consider important so if there's some damage or scratches describe them and illustrate with a photo.


Presenting your car well will improve your chances for a sale. Clean the car inside and out then take photos of the exterior and interior. We recommend that your photos are high quality but under 5MB.

3. Selling your car

Trade safely

Unfortunately, not all traders are bonafide and scammers are out there, if the deal seems to good to be true, it often is. 

  • Find out who you are dealing with. Ask for a name and contact phone number - ring the number to check if it is legitimate.
  • Do not reply to any emails asking you to confirm or supply website login or credit card details.
  • Do not accept requests for ‘overpayment’ where you need to reimburse the buyer especially if they are based overseas – this is a common scam.


Position the car so that the prospective buyer can see round the outside and can easily get inside. Have any documentation about the car like service records to hand and be ready to answer any question truthfully. Stand back and allow the buyer to inspect the car in their own time.

Test drive

If they ask to take the car for a test drive be sensible. Ask to see their licence. BE SURE that your insurance covers them to drive your car in case there’s an accident. If you feel safe accompany them as a passenger. Or, you can consider letting them take your car for a test drive if they give you the keys to their car as security.

Comprehensive inspection

Many buyers will want to have the car inspected even after a test drive. The AA provides this service. You can speed the process up by having information about the AA’s inspection service. Even better, you can have the car inspected as a seller so that you can show prospective buyers the inspection report.


OK. The buyer’s seen it, driven it and had it inspected and now wants to negotiate with you to buy it. Whilst you’ve set an asking price they will probably offer you less. It’s up to you to decide how firm you are on price or whether you think their offer is reasonable.


If you agree a price then usually the buyer will offer a deposit of several hundred dollars.

You should write out two identical receipts that describe the car, specify the agreed sale price, the amount accepted as a deposit, the date by which full payment must be made and any other conditions that you may have agreed. Both buyer and seller should sign both receipts.


Before you hand over the keys, you'll want to make sure you’ve been paid. The buyer could directly deposit the money into your bank account; or for small transactions pay by cash. The most usual payment method is by direct credit. This is an automatic transfer from the buyers bank account into yours.

DO NOT accept a personal cheque from the buyer. They may not have adequate funds so that when you attempt to cash the cheque it bounces.

4. Documents

Purchase receipts

Whether for deposit or for the full amount; prepare two copies of any receipt. Describe the car, the purchase amount, the date of the purchase, the name and address of both seller and buyer. Get both seller and buyer to sign both copies.

Change of ownership

Registration of ownership simply defines who is responsible for the car, in particular for paying licensing fees and fines. As part of the process of purchasing a car both buyer and seller must complete change of ownership documentation. This can be done online via the NZTA website.

Alternatively, the seller completes the Certificate of Registration form (or an MR13A); the buyer completes form MR13B. These forms are available from an NZTA agent like AA centres or AA WOF testing stations. The buyer should complete and submit MR13B and get a receipt to show you before you, the seller, hand over the keys. They can do this before the purchase is completed and it means that they take responsibility for any fines and fees.