When it comes to selling your car, it’s important to consider all the available options.
There are numerous ways to sell your motor – and the best method will depend on your personal priorities and circumstances. For instance, someone who is keen to make a quick sale may take a very different approach to someone who’s prepared to pull out all the stops to maximise their profit.
In this guide, we’ll cover five of the most popular ways to sell a car today. We’ll explain the process to follow for each method – along with the potential benefits and drawbacks to make it easier to decide what’s right for you.
If getting the best possible price for your car sits high on your priority list, it’s worth considering selling your car privately.
Private buyers are less concerned with profit margins than dealerships – and if you find the right buyer, you could get your car’s full market value (perhaps even slightly more).
However, bear in mind that you may need to arrange multiple viewings and test drives - and your search for a buyer could last weeks, months or longer. To ensure a hassle-free sale (and to get the best possible price), you’ll need to have the right documents to sell your car, such as the V5C logbook and service history.
When it comes to finding private buyers for your car, you could start by simply telling your family and friends you’re selling it. This can help to generate interest by word-of-mouth.
You could also try placing an advert in a local newspaper – or on a community noticeboard (typically found in shops, cafes, pubs and other community buildings). However, to ensure your car is seen by as many of the right people as possible, we recommend listing it online.
There are many car advertising websites and social media marketplaces that allow you to list your motor online. Setting up a listing is reasonably straightforward; once you’ve named your price, written a helpful description and added a few photos, you’re all set to start selling online.
Popular free car advertising websites and social apps include:
To maximise your chances of attracting the right buyer, try to make your listings as compelling and informative as possible – and advertise on as many sites as you can.
If you aren’t getting the desired enquiries through the free options, there are premium alternatives that could help you with your search. Just remember that any money spent on advertising will reduce your profit margin.
Selling to a dealership might be a viable option if you want to get rid of your old car quickly. By selling to a dealer, you won’t have to answer phone calls, meet with prospective buyers (or waste time with tyre kickers).
Just bear in mind that this convenience usually comes at a cost. (It’s unlikely that you’ll get as much cash for your car at a dealership as you could on the private market.)
A dealer will usually offer you less than your car’s market value, as they will have to account for the dealership’s overheads and profit margins.
You will have more scope to negotiate a better price if you have a model that is in high demand and the dealer wants it on their forecourt. Vehicles that are accepted as approved used cars may also command higher prices.
If you’re keen to get behind the wheel of a new car quickly, part-exchanging your old motor could be the way to go.
A part-exchange deal allows you to complete two deals in one transaction: you’ll trade in your old vehicle for another model in the showroom. Rather than receive your old car’s part-exchange value in cash, you’ll get that amount discounted from the price of your next purchase.
Car dealers will usually make more profit from a part-exchange deal than a standard sale. In many cases, selling your car outright and then purchasing a new one may be a more economical option. After selling, you can buy a new car with cash - or through a car finance agreement.
Selling your car at auction can be a great choice if you own a rare or collectable model. A classic car that’s in good condition could sell for a lucrative profit at an auction if there’s enough interest.
There are also specialised salvage auctions where cars that have been written off are sold. If your car is missing paperwork, it may be easier to sell it an auction than to a dealer or private buyer.
When you put your car up for auction, the organisers will help you advertise the vehicle before it is displayed.
Most people attending an auction will do so with the intention of buying a car, so you should have a good chance of finding a buyer for your motor.
However, as with most selling methods, there is no guarantee of success – and you’ll have to pay an upfront fee to the auction house, regardless of whether your car sells.
If you do manage to sell your car at an auction, it is likely that you will have to pay a seller’s fee and commission on the sale. (Therefore, it is important to factor this in when setting your minimum price.)
If your car has failed its MOT, is a non-runner or has sustained severe damage, it could be difficult to sell to a dealer or private buyer. In this scenario, you might consider scrapping your car at an Authorised Treatment Facility (ATF).
An ATF or scrapyard will buy your damaged car from you regardless of its condition. Just make sure that you have the right documents to scrap your car.
Although scrapping your car is a convenient selling option, you could potentially get more for it by restoring it to roadworthy condition and selling it through another channel.
The first UK car scrappage scheme was introduced in 2009 to encourage motorists to scrap their high-polluting cars in exchange for a discount on a new, eco-friendly model.
Motorists participating in car scrappage schemes help to reduce emissions levels – and boost sales for participating car manufacturers.
Transport for London’s (TfL) ULEZ scrappage scheme allows London residents to apply for a grant of up to £2,000 for scrapping a car.
Many older petrol and diesel cars that are not ULEZ exempt are eligible for scrappage schemes. Selling your car through a scrappage scheme can be a great alternative to selling it to a scrapyard - and will often leave you with more money in your pocket.
Please note: If your vehicle has been assigned Category ‘N’ by an insurer following an accident, it may not be eligible for a scrappage scheme.
If you have a worn or damaged car (and a little mechanical knowledge), you could strip out its useful parts to sell individually.
As long as your vehicle has not been assigned Category ‘N’ - and has at least a few high-value parts intact, it’s likely to be worth your while. Valuable parts include the engine, battery, GPS system, airbags and the air conditioning or climate control system.
Just be aware that stripping down a car can be a time-consuming process - and it could take a while to sell off all the valuable parts.
If you want to get the highest possible price for your motor, you’ll need to prepare it for resale. Here are a few ways to increase your car’s resale value:
For more detailed guidance, see our article ‘10 ways to increase the resale value of your car’.
Want to avoid the hassle of selling to a dealer or private buyer?
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Still looking for more information? Here are 13 tips for selling your car