How to sell your Clean-Air culprit

August 23, 2023 by

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carwow offers advice for anyone thinking of swapping their old car for a ULEZ-compliant model

The expansion of London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) into all of greater London on 29 August will, in conjunction with the introduction of new Clean Air Zones up and down the country, prompt many drivers to look into selling their existing cars if they don’t make the grade.

But how do you go about getting a decent price for a car that is about to get expensive – or even impossible – to drive in certain parts of the UK? Leading online car marketplace carwow has compiled some top tips to help drivers get the best price for their non-compliant cars.

1. Know your car’s worth

Anyone who works in sales will tell you how important a positive mental attitude is when it comes to achieving results.

So while it’s easy to think that nobody will want a diesel car that doesn’t meet Euro 6 standards, or a petrol one that doesn’t make the Euro 4 grade, there will be plenty of canny buyers who don’t need to drive into Clean Air Zones regularly, and will be looking to snap up one of the hundreds of thousands of non-compliant cars likely to be being sold around this summer’s ULEZ expansion.

Don’t get disheartened and bite the hand off anyone who offers you even a whiff of cash for your old car: research how much it’s worth, perhaps using carwow’s free online valuation service, and stick to your guns, waiting for the right buyer, and the right price.

2. The time to act is now

The ULEZ expansion on 29 August is edging ever nearer, and with millions of us soon off on our summer hols, if you need to change your car, do it now. Rushing either the sale of your old car or the purchase of a new one is likely to lead to regret and unnecessary expense, and given some of the things you can do to maximise the value of your old car can take time, it’s well worth starting as soon as possible.

carwow’s research shows 74% of people don’t know if their car is ULEZ compliant, so there may well be a rush of people selling non-compliant cars once they get their first £180 penalty for entering the ULEZ without paying the fee. You don’t want to be caught up in that likely sales wave, so start the process of switching cars now if you need to, and head to carwow’s free ULEZ checker if you’re unsure of your car’s status.

3. Think nationally

It’s fair to say that non-compliant cars close to the expanded ULEZ – which takes in most areas inside the M25 – are unlikely to be in hot demand, but just because you live in this vicinity doesn’t mean you have to sell locally.

Instead, look into using a national car-buying service, like carwow’s Sell My Car facility. Dealers outside of the Home Counties will be well aware of the intricacies of ULEZ, and are likely to be on the lookout for non-compliant stock they can buy from people upgrading to a ULEZ-friendly car, and sell to people who don’t need to worry so much about local emissions – perhaps because they predominantly drive in rural areas which are not the targets of clean-air zone planners.

4. Know what to fix, and what to leave

Kerbed alloys are almost a fact of motoring life, but it’s not generally worth getting them fixed ahead of sale – dealers have established relationships with wheel-repair firms and can get scuffed rims remedied far more cheaply than individual drivers can.

And, while the odd car-park ding and bumper scuff can also be attended to easily by retailers, it’s worth getting more serious issues looked into. If your car’s engine management light is on, for example, this is literally a warning sign to buyers that your car has issues, and it will be priced accordingly during negotiations.

5. Don’t get conned over air-con

Non-working air-conditioning is a bit of a grey area that’s worth applying your grey matter to. If you’re sure the system just needs a remedial regas, a professional retailer will be able to do this more cheaply than you can. But, given the warm weather will make the climate-control dial the first one switch any buyer will reach for, and an air-con fault could need a £50 regas or £1,000 compressor, get air-con issues put right before you sell, or see if the dealer will sort this at a discount during negotiations.

6. A long MOT is just the ticket

In most circumstances it’s not worth putting your car through an MOT early and wasting months of validity, but if you’re looking to sell and are confident in the condition of your car, get a fresh full-year’s MOT ‘ticket’, as it’s known in the trade.

This will give buyers extra reassurance about what your car’s really like underneath and at each corner, not least as the Government’s free online checker gives detailed information about a car’s MOT history, and only needs a number plate to be used.

carwow’s Managing Editor, Paul Barker, says: “The expansion of London’s ULEZ and the introduction of new Clean Air Zones across the UK is set to be a huge catalyst for the used-car market.

“Though people living in towns and cities are likely to want a compliant Euro-6 diesel or a Euro-4-and-onwards petrol, those in rural areas may be keeping their eyes peeled for the cars that are being moved out of the capital.

“And while a car’s emission status can’t feasibly be changed, there are plenty of other things buyers can do to make their non-compliant car as attractive as possible. We’d advise anyone looking to switch from a non-compliant to a compliant car to make the move well ahead of August’s expansion deadline, but to also take their time and maximise the value of their old vehicle as they do so.”