Selling a Car on Gumtree

My wife’s old Ford Fiesta was a great runner but useless for a family of six. We upgraded to a Ford C-Max, an automatic, diesel, family-sized solution to our travelling woes. It improved things immensely, and made the Fiesta redundant.

Fiesta GumtreeEmma’s father-in-law borrowed the Fiesta for a while and then it lay in his drive unused. The time had come to sell it. Some idiotic vandals had scratched claw marks into the door and ceiling so I had to learn how to fix that. An afternoon of sanding, priming and spray-painting fixed that problem. We replaced the rear windscreen wiper, put in a new battery, passed an MOT and it was ready to go.

We put it for sale on Gumtree. It was free to list and allowed a decent amount of photos. They also pulled through lots of info about the car just by putting in the registration number. A great service for no cost! Independent sites had valued the car at £1500-1600. We put it up for £1350. Almost immediately, I received an email from some fella who wanted to buy it without even needing to see it. He was offering to buy it through paypal and would send someone to collect it. Sounded great. Too great, actually. I googled and found out this was a scam.


This is how the scam works. Let’s say you agree on a price of £1000 for the car. He explains that he’ll send someone to get it but there’s a shipping fee of £50 that needs to be paid via a money wire payment. What he’ll do is make you a paypal payment of £1050 and then you send the additional £50 to this other account. (It has to come from you as the seller, he’ll explain). No worries, you think. He’s paying. So you receive an email confirming that this fella has sent you £1050. Only, this email is fake. There has been no transaction. This email isn’t from paypal, it’s a fake one from this dude.

Lots of people have unfortunately fallen for this, so be wary. Ultimately, I’d be wary of anyone who wants to buy the car unseen. Would you?


There was hardly any interest, so we dropped the price. A bizarre amount of people sent a message asking if the car was still for sale. I would reply, “yes – would you like to see it?” and they wouldn’t get back in touch. Some people get their kicks in weird ways.

Then one chap seemed genuinely interested. He gave us a story about wanting a car for his pregnant girlfriend. Perfect. He arranged to come see the car, but then the battery went flat. My father in law went to jump it and the jump lead melted. What had happened?! We charged the battery in the house but then the car wouldn’t start. Immobiliser problems. Jeez – what timing!

24 hours of googling and experimenting later and we figured out the problem. Either the fuse had gone (20p repair) or the immobiliser had broken (£500 repair). Luckily, it was the fuse. Joy!


gum-listingsWe replaced the fuse. I went to drive the car to the petrol station and there was a horrendous grinding sound. I looked at the front of the car and the wheel arch was practically touching the tyre. The spring had broken. ARGH. On a Saturday afternoon. The earlier I could get it fixed was midweek.

My father-in-law knew a guy who could fix it. We cautiously drove the car up to his workyard. In the meantime, the buyer said he still wanted it and could get a friend with a truck to come and get it. And yet, when we agreed, he always had an excuse for not showing up. One day, he had to work too late. The next day, his mate’s van was getting an MOT. The next night, he just didn’t get in touch at all. Like I said, Gumtree attracts some odd folk.

A week and a half later, the car was repaired. Now we have it back, tip-top condition and ready to sell.

Gumtree again

On Thursday, I relisted it back on Gumtree. Immediately, I received three messages. One just said “£800”, which got my back up. Isn’t that a bit arrogant? Sweet talk me, Mr. I want you to persuade me you’re worthy of taking on this car after the work we’ve put into it.

One chap, however, came across as being a sincere buyer. He was polite, and arranged to come and see the car on Saturday. He arrived at 10am, and by 10.30, the car was his. He’d bought it for his son. Unbelievable. After all the build-up, the sale went through without any upset and really quick. Emma was over the moon.

The steps of deleting the Gumtree ad, cancelling the insurance and the road tax were sweet ones. It was a weight off our shoulders. The time just happened to be right for the sale. Would I recommend Gumtree? Well, it eventually worked for us, so yeah. They get the car out there and it’s for free! Just be warned that in order to get a sale, you have to wade through a load of nonsense first.


  1. We’ve sold a couple of things on gumtree, a TV and things like that. It was so stressful I did wonder if it was worth it. We had exactly the same as you, people arrange to collect and then not turn up, offering a really low amount, sending lots of messages really badgering us. I really don’t know if we’d bother again. It’s not the service though it’s the people! Sounds like it all worked out well for you in the end though

  2. Never heard of that scam before and it’s great to know about it now. Although we’ve never sold or bought anything on Gumtree … yet. Some people are just time-wasters aren’t they? Glad you guys managed to sell your wife’s car now 🙂

  3. 2 March 2016

    Wow! Good job you googled about that scam – I’d have probably fell for it and I like to think I’m quite savvy when it comes to stuff like that. Feeling all sentimental about the guy who bought the car for his son, and remembering my own first car and how much I loved it! Still the best car I’ve ever had.

    Really enjoyed reading your Gumtree adventures! You tell the stories in the best way! Thanks 🙂

  4. 2 March 2016

    Never heard of that scam before good to know bout it and glad u never lost out. It’s amazing how many time wasters are out there though.

  5. 2 March 2016

    You get some oddballs on Gumtree as you said. I have used it on occasion and so many people ask I’d it’s available and then don’t follow through. That’s just weird.

  6. 2 March 2016

    That is really worrying that some people are falling for the scam! Glad that you got the car sold in the end and that the guy was a decent buyer!

  7. 2 March 2016

    Oh no, I had no idea there were scams on Gumtree. We have actually found a car on Gumtree years ago and everything was ok.

  8. 3 March 2016

    I’m glad you eventually got the sale but what a nightmare for you on the way to getting it. It’s scary to think how many people will fall for that scam x

  9. Interesting post. I wouldn’t have thought of buying my car through Gumtree before. Why? Because I don’t feel we can trust the buyer. I guess you need to be very careful these days to trust anybody, right? Also as you mentioned, someone that wants to buy a car but doesn’t want to see it sounds very suspicious to me. I’m glad that after all the problems you actually managed to sell it to an honest person. Well done! I enjoyed reading your post, 🙂 x

  10. 3 March 2016

    I gave up with Gumtree after I was almost scammed. We sold ours on ebay but that was almost as bad with ridiculous offers and silly questions

  11. 3 March 2016

    I really dont know how people can live with themselves when they do these things, honestly it is just so awful. Am glad you managed to sell it.

  12. Eeek, what a mission! I’ve never bought or sold on Gumtree before but we sell on eBay sometimes and that attracts all sorts too. Thank goodness you clocked the scam, my cousin fell victim to something similar and lost £3,000!

  13. 8 March 2016

    I’ve never used gumtree at all. I’ve heard stories of time wasters that have put me off. Selling something shouldn’t be a hassle

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