For many, getting the most cash possible for a car is not the most important thing. There are other factors to consider – such as your time, the hassle involved and whether or not you want to deal directly with the car buying public. But if you really want to get as much money as you possibly can from the sale of your vehicle (which, as you are reading this, I guess that you do), a private sale may get you 20% more than the least lucrative alternative.
WHERE TO SELL
The price you can get for your car varies greatly depending on how and where you sell it. Some businesses understand that you want a speedy transaction, with little hassle, but will offer you less money than your car. Make sure you research cars similar to yours that are for sale. It is important to compare yours with the same make, model, specification, mileage and age. The AA has a useful site for valuing your car – but it tends to give you the dealer price, which can be lower. https://www.theaa.com/used-cars/
Once you have a good idea of what the market value of your car is, you need to decide how you want to sell it. This can be determined by how quickly you want the car sold. If you aren’t in a hurry, you will make more money from the sale.
HOW TO SELL
1. Online car buying sites such as We Buy Any Car will help you out if you are in a hurry. Bear in mind that the price they offer you will allow them to sell the car on at an auction and still make a profit. Car auctions sell cars a little lower than market value. Which? says:
You’re almost certain to get a better price selling the car, or even sending it straight to auction, yourself. In our undercover research, we found that five out of six of our mystery shoppers would have been better off selling to a dealer – in one case, by over £2,000.
2. If the car you are selling is just a few years old, and/or if you are replacing it with the same make you might consider part-exchanging through a franchised dealer. Which? Recommends that if you choose to part exchange, you should focus on the ‘price to change’ – this is the difference between the part-exchange offer on your old car and the price of the new one, rather than the individual price of either. A dealer may offset a discount on your new car against a poor valuation on your old one, for example, or offer a very good price on your old one to tempt you into buying the new car at close to list price (the price shown in the brochure). Bear in mind that most dealers will be looking to make a margin on any second-hand car they take on, so the part-ex price is unlikely to be as high as the price you’d get from selling privately. However, it’s undoubtedly much more convenient.
3. Another option is to sell directly to a relevant dealer: Some dealers look out for well looked after popular models, but it is still unlikely you will get the best price this way as they will still want to make their mark up by selling your car.
4. If you sell privately you stand to make more money from the sale the Money Advice Service say If you sell privately you might get 10% to 15% more for your car than you would from a dealer. That said, it can be more time consuming. You can list your car for sale online and deal with enquiries yourself. Very few people buy motors via the local newspaper these days, but it’s not a bad thing to tell your friends and family your car is for sale and make use of Facebook to do this. Apart from your house, your car is probably the most expensive thing people will buy, so understandably, people prefer to buy cars from trusted people or personal recommendations You could also try putting a for sale sign up in the window of your car.
PREPARING FOR THE SALE
There may be other cars for sale that are the same make, age and mileage as yours, so you need to make yours stand out. Online sales sites are full of cars with poorly taken photos, little information and incomplete data. They won’t sell as quickly or for as much. Some things to make sure you pay attention to:
- Checks that you have no outstanding finance on your car.
- Buyers like a car with a long MOT, if you have less than 3 months consider getting it done. Check out any mechanical faults or issues with the car.
- Check oil, screen wash and coolant levels. Check tyre pressures and tyre tread.
- Make sure you have everything ready. You will need any spare keys, wheel locking nuts and accessories from the car that you might have removed, like parcel shelves. Remove any personal items from your car.
- Think about whether any minor bodywork damage needs fixing. Check it against the price of your car. Companies like ChipsAway https://www.chipsaway.co.uk/ can offer you a free quote for repairs and will be honest with you about whether the work is worth doing or not [other minor car repair businesses are available]. Here is what WhatCar recommends:
Small dents and scratches are worth removing from nearly new cars, but they’re to be expected on older vehicles so you’re unlikely to recover the cost of getting professionals to put them right.
- Give your car a good clean inside and out and consider using a dash polish to restore shine to the interior. Think about steam cleaning any stubborn stains, or pay for a professional valet service (price between £50-£100).
- Take good photographs inside and out. Some people don’t like to feature their own house in the background – it is a good idea to use an attractive, neutral background. Use a digital camera rather than your phone.
- As a security measure, make sure you delete any personal data from your car. Built in Sat Nav’s might remember where you live, and some cars download whole address books from your phone. It’s important to clear this before you sell.
- If you are listing your car yourself for sale there are a number of websites that offer a free listing service, and some paid. Gum Tree and Facebook Marketplace / groups are generally free, and Motors.co.uk is advertising its services as free. eBay may charge you for or listing, or when you make the sale. Autotrader and other specialist car websites will usually have a charge for listing.
- Describe the technical specification of your car – include mileage, engine size, how many owners and how you have used it for. Also describe the overall condition, including any scratches or dents and any past problems. It is always better to tell a potential buyer if the car has any bad points – you will appear as more trustworthy if you are honest.
MAKING THE SALE
If you are selling privately be wary of aggressive hagglers and make sure you take full payment before handing over the keys. Do not leave your keys or paperwork alone with people coming to look at your car. The AA advises that if you change seats part way through, take the keys with you and hand them over when you get back in the car.
Write out two receipts that have the full details of the car, name and address and contact details for you and the buyer, as well as the amount paid. Both you and the buyer should sign the agreement. The AA has a downloadable receipt that you can simply print off http://www.theaa.com/car-buying/buyers-sellers-contracts
Although it might seem like a bit of work, selling a car yourself can save you a lot of money. Find out what a dealer might offer you for your car, add 15% on top of that and ask yourself whether the couple of hours you might invest in selling your car is worth that 15%. If it’s not, let the dealer take the hassle away from you!