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There are now more ways to sell your car than ever before, but how do you decide which is best?

If you are buying a new car there’s a good chance you’ve also got one to sell. How you do this depends how much you value convenience over getting the best price. In this guide we outline the three main methods of selling: part-exchange, selling online and selling privately.


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There are numerous websites where you can list your car for sale

One of the easiest ways to part with your old car is to part-exchange it with the dealership from where you are buying your new one. This is a great option for those who want the entire transaction to take place with just one other party, and ensures that you hold on to your old car until your new one is ready.

Another advantage of part-exchanging your car is that you don’t need to spend hours preparing it for sale. Most dealers will be able to see past dirty alloy wheels or scratches in the paintwork and still give you the same price as if the car had been polished to within an inch of its life.

All of this convenience does come at a cost though, namely that you’ll rarely get the best price for your old car. That’s because a dealer will not only need to buy it from you, but also prepare it for sale and possibly add a warranty for its next owner, and that’s before he or she has factored in a profit margin.

Selling Online

The emergence of online car buying services such as We Buy Any Car, Tootle and Trusted Car Buyers has created another easy way for owners to part with their old car.

The model is usually that you enter your registration number and a few additional details such as mileage and condition, and the buying service then comes back to you with a price. If you’re happy you can take your car to one of its depots or have it collected, and complete the deal. If not, there’s no obligation, although you can expect a fair few follow-up emails.

These companies often boast that you’ll get more money than from a part-exchange, but that’s not always the case. In addition, quotes from different car buying companies can vary by hundreds of pounds so it’s worth approaching two or three different ones. Remember too that these companies are business and not charities, so you still shouldn’t expect an overly generous price. What’s more, the quote you’re provided online might well be adjusted (almost always downwards) when a representative from the company inspects the car in person.

Selling Privately

Woman cleaning Mini
A clean car is a must if selling privately

If you are prepared to clean your car inside and out, write a good advert, take a few pictures and possibly pay to list on one of the more popular classifieds websites then the good news is your hard work is likely to be rewarded with a higher selling price than you’d get with a part-exchange.

Popular listings sites include Auto Trader, Ebay, Pistonheads and Gumtree, but there are plenty more besides, as well as the option of placing an advert in the window of a local shop or in a local paper. Whatever way you advertise, be prepared for people coming to look at your car only to offer a very low price, or phone up and make an appointment to see the car but then never turn up. So-called tyre kickers or timewasters are sadly part and parcel of selling a car privately, and one of the reasons many people choose not to.

You’ll also need to ensure anybody who wants to test drive your car has their own insurance in place (you are perfectly within your rights to ask to see evidence of it), and work out a sensible way of exchanging funds if the deal goes ahead. The government’s Money Advice Service recommends cash (handed over at a bank), a bank transfer or a banker’s draft as the safest methods of payment. Whatever method you choose make sure the payment has cleared before handing over the keys and sending off the V5C registration certificate to notify of a change of ownership.

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