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How to sell your car and get the most money for it

If the time’s come to send your car to the great car park in the sky, there are a number of ways it can get there. The question is, which method is going to get you the most money without requiring you spend every waking hour dealing with potential buyers. Here are carwow’s top tips for selling your car…

Different ways to sell your car

Assuming you own the car and don’t still have finance to pay on it, the most direct route is to put an advert up online or in a car magazine and wait for someone to buy it from you. Of course, that can be a lot of effort so a few services exist to make your life easier. Websites such as webuyanycar let you enter your cars details online, get a valuation and then take it into a local garage to finish the deal.

The easiest way to get rid of your old car is to trade it in when you buy a new one. The dealership will tell you how much it thinks your old car is worth and subtract that from the cost of your new car. Usually if the dealer can’t sell it themselves, they’ll then send it off to a car auction. If you still can’t get rid of it, you can always scrap it. There are even some websites that’ll collect your car and take it away for you.

Valuation tools such as carwow’s (shown here) can help you work out your car’s value

How to find out how much your car is worth

Before you sell your car, however, you should find out roughly how much it’s worth – this’ll let you know whether you’re getting a good price or not. There are a range of valuation tools out there – carwow even has its own – simply click login at the top right of this screen to find it. The tool you use might present you with a range of different prices for private, retail and trade-in. These refer to the different prices you get for the different ways you can sell your car.

You’ll get less money if your car’s missing some or all of its service history or isn’t in a very good condition, so keeping your car in good nick is a great way to make sure you get as much as possible when you come to sell it. Any mods you do to your car probably won’t push your sale price up either – in fact, some dealers might assume a car’s had a hard life if it turns up with Fast & Furious wheels and stickers everywhere. Put your car as close to stock as you can and sell your mods separately to make the most money.

Part exchange – pros and cons

While you won’t get as much money as other selling methods, part exing is the easiest way to sell your old car. You just need to rock up to a dealership, pick your new car and the dealer will tell you how much they can give you for your old one.

The obvious disadvantage with part exing is that you won’t get as much money for your old car than if you’d sold it privately. This is because the dealer will then have to prepare the car and get it resold – incurring extra costs which they’ll pass on to you.

Webuyanycar – pros and cons

Webuyanycar and websites like it are a fairly new way to sell your old car. They’re quite easy to use – you just pop your car’s details in on their site then take your car to a local garage to have it inspected and finish the deal. These sites will sometimes offer slightly more for your car than you’d get if you’d just traded it in, while still requiring less effort than selling it privately.

They’re not perfect, however – you’ll almost certainly end up with less than if you’d sold your car privately. Plus many buyers get tempted by the price they’re given on the website, only to find that they’re offered much less for the car when they actually get it inspected.

eBay and private sale – pros and cons

If you don’t mind doing a little legwork yourself, you can typically get the most money for your old car by selling it privately through websites such as eBay, Gumtree or Autotrader. This method lets you advertise your car in the best light possible and will probably get you the most money in the end.

The downside to private sales is their relative difficulty compared to simply trading the car in. You’ll have to spend time taking photos, writing sales descriptions and dealing with potential customers. What’s more, you might have to meet dozens of potential buyers before you find someone willing to offer you the price you want.

Scrapping might be the best option for very old or tough to sell cars

Scrapping your car – pros and cons

If you’ve tried all other routes and can’t convince anyone to buy your old banger, don’t despair – you can always scrap it. This is really your only option if your car is so old or decrepit that no one wants to buy it. Some services will even come and collect your car for you. It’s not all plain sailing – there are loads of rules governing how you get rid of your car.

If anyone offers you cash in hand to scrap your old car, walk away immediately because it’s against the law – it’s your responsibility to make sure your car is disposed of at an Authorised Treatment Facility and you could be fined by the DVLA if you don’t. What’s more, any payment you get for your old car must come as a cheque or by bank transfer. Don’t expect much money for it, either – if you come away with £150, you’ll have done pretty well.

Some repairs will increase the cars value – others will cost more than you’ll make back

Prepping your car for sale

Nothing will make your Fiat worth the same as a Ferrari, but a few simple steps could get you much more money when you sell your car. First you should make your car as clean as possible – a clean car looks like one that’s been well cared for so should be worth more. That includes scrubbing the interior, too – if your carpets are old and mouldy, a cheap set of black floor mats can go a long way to improving the look of the cabin.

You’ll want to decide whether you should repair any body damage. On a fairly new or expensive car, bodywork repairs could significantly improve the car’s value when you sell it. Of course, if your car is old and cheap, spending hundreds on repairs won’t necessarily get you the same return when you come to sell it. Finally, you should get all the service documents and receipts for your car so you can prove how well you’ve taken care of it.

A good photo can make or break a used car advert

How to photograph your car

If you’re selling privately, you’ll also want to take some good photos of your car. Make sure you stand far back enough that the car fits in the photo and take shots that cover every angle so buyers can look all the way around the car before seeing it in the metal. We’d also suggest you take your photos in the daytime – but avoid direct sunlight that can create random patches of glare on the bodywork.

Another handy hint is to drive your car somewhere secluded such as a rural car park to take your photos. No one wants to see your dirty laundry or your neighbour’s dodgy topiary in the background so a pleasant, neutral setting for your shots can help them look much better.

Be honest about the condition of your car in your advert

How to describe your car

Finally, you’ll have to describe your car to potential buyers. As much as you might want to claim it was owned by John Lennon and personally serviced by Prince Andrew, it’s much better to stick to the truth.

Be clear from the outset about the condition of the car – if there are any dents, scrapes or blemishes on the exterior, include their location and size. The same goes for cars in good condition – if you polished it every weekend and made the effort not to smoke in the cabin, include that too.

You should also note down any extra option packs fitted to the car. You’re unlikely to make back the price you paid for them, but they might be enough to convince potential buyers to choose your car over all the others. Let buyers know about the car’s service history and what records and receipts you have. Also include any recent big repairs such as a new clutch or replacement timing belt.

What to replace it with…

Once you’ve shifted your old car, you get excitement of buying a new car. Check out our best savings on our car deals page or click ‘login’ in the top-right-hand corner to sign up and configure a new car or browse our extensive range of new, nearly new or pre-reg stock cars.

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