The 6 best ways to sell a car

February 29, 2024 by

Parting ways with your pride and joy can be a complicated affair. There are a lot of options when it comes to selling your car, but which is best for you? Read on to find out.

Changing cars means you have to choose how to sell your old one. We will guide you through the choices you have for selling it.

For example, did you know you can sell your car through Carwow? We’ve made the process of selling your car as quick and easy for you as possible.

Maybe some of the other ways to sell your car will be more suitable for your particular circumstances.

We can help you decide which way to sell your car by explaining the advantages and disadvantages of each one.

1. Selling at auction

Best for getting multiple offers at once

Selling your car at auction is a way to show it off to a lot of potential buyers at the same time. Your car is shown to a room of people who then bid for it, with the highest bidder getting the car.

When you enter your car into an auction, you can set a ‘reserve price’. This is basically the minimum price you’re willing to accept. If your reserve price isn’t met, you’re given the option to accept the highest bid or take the car home again.

Advantages of selling at auction:

  • You sell your car quickly by literally putting it in front of lots of potential buyers.
  • It’s over and done in a day; there’s no waiting around for people to come to view the car.
  • You can control how much you get by setting a reserve.

Disadvantages to selling at auction:

  • If you do sell the car, the auction house will charge you fees.
  • Preparing for an auction can be time consuming. There is a lot of paperwork to fill out, you need to research which auction house to use and arrange transport for you and your vehicle.
  • If you don’t end up selling the car, it’s a wasted journey.

2. Selling to a dealership

Best for getting a decent price with low effort

Selling to a dealer is a good option if you want a quick sale with little fuss. You can simply book an appointment to have your car appraised, then the dealer will inspect it and give you a valuation.

You can sell a car with outstanding finance to most dealers, provided you owe less on your remaining finance than the amount the car is currently worth. They’ll pay off the remaining finance and give you the leftover balance. For example, if they value your car at £10,000 but you owe £4,000 on the finance, you’ll be paid £6,000.

Advantages of selling to a dealer:

  • No need to advertise your car.
  • A lot of dealers will take cars with outstanding finance.
  • You’re almost guaranteed to sell it that day.

Disadvantages of selling to a dealer:

  • The price you get won’t be as good as it would be if you sold it privately.
  • A dealer will buy your car at the trade price, meaning they’re leaving a margin for them to prepare it and sell it on for a profit.

3. Part exchanging with a dealership

Best for convenience when buying from a dealer

Part exchanging is basically giving your old car to the dealer in exchange for a discount on your new one.

When you go to the dealer, they will take a look at your old car and give it a valuation. This valuation is the amount you’ll get off your new car, less any outstanding finance.

So, let’s say the car you’re looking at buying is worth £15,000, and the dealer has valued your car at £5,000. This means you’ll pay £10,000 for the car and give your old one to the dealer.

Advantages of part exchanging:

  • It’s convenient because you don’t have to go without a car when you sell the old one. You just drop your current car off at the dealer and drive off in the new one.
  • There’s no need to advertise your car, saving you time and hassle.

Disadvantages of part exchanging:

  • As with selling your car to a dealer, you won’t get quite as much for it as you might be able to by selling it privately.
  • You may be able to negotiate a better deal on your next car as a cash buyer with no part exchange.

4. Selling to a private buyer

Best for getting the most money for your car

Selling your car privately is the most time-consuming and potentially risky method, but it can result in getting a higher price.

Selling on an online marketplace such as AutoTrader

You’ll need to write a good advert detailing the specification and condition of your car, and also take some good photos of the interior and exterior to make it look as desirable as possible. This will give prospective buyers as much insight in to your car as possible and could make it more tempting compared to others they might be looking at.

Then it’s just a case of waiting for the phone to ring, hopefully, and then waiting for them to come to view your car. Would you be happy to offer them a test drive of your car? If so, will they be insured to drive it? What offer would you accept for the car?

When someone comes to look at your car, you’ll want to make sure you have all the paperwork in order and the car is clean.

Once you’ve agreed on a price, it’s just a case of filling out the relevant sections on your V5C (vehicle logbook) to transfer ownership of the car to the buyer. You can also do this online. Remember to leave them with the full service history and all keys for the vehicle.

Selling in an online auction such as eBay

As above, to stand the best chance of getting as high a price as possible for your car, make sure you take and upload as many good photos of the car as possible. Better photos can get you a better price – read our guide to taking better photos here.

There’s usually the choice of setting a closing date for the auction of your car or adding a ‘buy now’ price. You can set a reserve price, and you may get some bids before the deadline for the auction, but expect most bids to come in the last hours or even minutes before the auction closes.

When the buyer comes to collect your car, you’ll want to make sure you have all the paperwork in order and looks as good as it did in your photos. Once you’re ready to give them the car, it’s just a case of filling out the relevant sections on your V5C (vehicle logbook) to transfer ownership of the car to the buyer. You can also do this online.

Advantages of selling privately:

  • You’ll probably get a better price for the car than you would by selling it to a dealer. On average, you’ll get 10-15% more for your car selling privately.

Disadvantages of selling privately:

  • It can be time consuming – you’ll need to write an advert and wait for potential buyers to come and view the car.
  • You will have to give your address to strangers and have them coming to your house to view the car.
  • Beware of time wasters who say they’re coming to view your car but never turn up.
  • You have to pay fees for adverts and for using auction sites.
  • Receiving sums of money can be risky: beware of forged bank notes and if being paid by an electronic transfer, don’t let the buyer drive away until you have confirmed the payment is in cleared in your bank account and the payment can’t be cancelled.

5. Selling to a car buying website such as Carwow

Best for guaranteeing a sale without leaving your home

Car buying websites are a relatively new, quick and easy way to sell your car for a fair price with minimal fuss.

All you have to do is provide some key details about your car, upload some pictures and then get a valuation for it. It’s a much quicker process than advertising it yourself or using an auction site.

If you’re happy with the valuation, the next steps depend on which website and company you use.

Some companies have physical branches you can take the car to where they’ll give it a thorough inspection to make sure it’s as you described it. Alternatively, some will come to you and inspect the car at your home before collecting it and transferring your money to you electronically.

Advantages to using a car buying website:

  • It’s quick and easy, you can get a valuation of your car without leaving the house.
  • You’re guaranteed to sell your car at a time to suit you.
  • You can get multiple quotes from different websites to make sure you get the best price. Nine out of 10 people who sold their car thought Carwow’s Sell My Car service got the price they expected, or more.

Disadvantages to using a car buying website

  • Some websites may pay less than others, and reduce the price they’ve offered if there are is any damage or repairs required for your, so it’s best to get multiple quotes.

6. Selling to a scrapyard

Advantages to using a scrapyard:

  • It’s a quick way to dispose of your car and (hopefully) turn it into some cash.
  • The scrapyard (Authorised Treatmant Facilities) may be able to collect your car from you.
  • There isn’t usually any fee to dispose of a car to a scrapyard (breakers’ yard).

Disadvantages to using a scrapyard:

  • You may have to arrange to deliver your car to the scrapyard.
  • The amount you get for the car may only be a few hundred pounds.

Sell your car with carwow

Selling your car with carwow is quick and easy, and you’ll get a great price from one of our trusted dealers.

All you have to do is enter your registration, answer a few simple questions and one of our team will give you a call to check you’re happy with everything. You’ll also agree a reserve value, and your car will go into one of our daily auctions. Assuming it meets or exceeds the agreed reserve, your car will sell to the highest bidder!

But don’t worry if it doesn’t hit that reserve, as after each daily auction ends, dealers will be able to directly put offers in for your car, leaving you to accept the highest.

We’ll take care of all the rest, arranging for your car to be collected from you at a time that’s convenient, and ensuring you get paid on the day of collection.