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Where should you sell your car?

Choosing where to sell your car is an important decision. Let’s look at the pros and cons of your various options.

When you're thinking about selling your car, there are two key factors to consider: how much money you want to sell it for, and how much time and effort you can put in. Depending on how important these factors are to you, there will be an option to best suit you.

Selling privately

BEST FOR: Getting the best price
Selling your car by yourself is likely to be the way to get the most money – 10-15% more than selling to a dealer, according to the Money Advice Service. And, if you advertise here on Free Trader UK, you’ll be putting your car in front of the UK’s largest car-buying audience. This may take you a bit of time, as you’ll need to create an ad and respond to all the enquiries. You’ll also need to make yourself and the car available for potential buyers to view; and, depending on where you place the advert, you may need to pay for it. If you want to sell privately, follow these top tips:
  • Be honest and fair in your description of the car
  • Make sure you can prove you are the car’s legal owner
  • Promptly and politely deal with enquiries from potential buyers
  • Be present at viewings and test drives
  • Make sure you’re taking payments safely

Selling to a dealer

BEST FOR Getting a decent price without too much effort
Selling your car to a local dealer is normally a low-hassle method, especially if you’re part-exchanging your car as part of the deal. That said, you almost certainly won’t get as much money as you would selling your car privately. After all, the dealer has a business to run, and they may have some work to do to get the car retail-ready after they’ve bought it from you. BEST FOR Getting a decent price without too much effortThis option is worth considering if you don’t want to invest the time required by a private sale, as you won’t have to spend time dealing with enquiries or viewings. How much will I get for my car from a dealer? If you sell the vehicle to a used car dealer outright, you’ll get a price based on the car’s trade value and condition, so it won’t be the best price. Normally, your car’s part-exchange value will be slightly higher than the trade price you’d get from selling your car outright. That said, the dealer might not be willing to negotiate over a part-exchange price. Generally speaking, part-exchange (trading your car in when buying another one) is one of the easiest ways to sell your car. Selling a car to a dealer outright can also be a relatively simple process, if you are willing to take less money for the vehicle. How much should I get for my car? Use our free valuation tool to get an indication of how much your car is worth, but remember there’s no guarantee of a good price, so you may need to visit more than one place to get a decent deal.

Car-buying websites

BEST FOR A guaranteed sale
Those looking to sell their car fast will probably be tempted by car-buying websites. They offer a guaranteed sale, meaning you can get rid of your old car and get some cash quickly, without the hassle of advertising and dealing with potential buyers. But different sites have different ways of working, so it’s important to shop around. Some, for example, will make a high offer then chip the price down when you get there – leaving you with less cash than you anticipated. And if you have to take your car to a trade-in centre to be sold, you’ll have to work out how you’re getting home. Any value you’re quoted online will be subject to an inspection at a local depot. If the inspection finds faults, they will drop their offer – sometimes by a significant amount. You may also have to pay an admin fee for this service, which will further reduce your take-home money. Not all sites are like this though, and finding a site to buy your car can be one of the fastest and most convenient ways to get rid of your old car. if you want some quick cash with the minimum amount of hassle, this could be the best way. If you sell your car through Free Trader UK’s Instant Offer, we’ll give you an accurate and fair market price so, assuming you described the car accurately, you know how much money you’ll get. We even arrange the collection of your old car from the comfort of your home – all within 48 hours.


BEST FOR: Putting your car in front of multiple potential buyers at one time without having to discuss price with them.
Auctions are not for the faint-hearted, which is why you rarely see private buyers in the room. Instead, these are generally the hunting ground for dealers. As they’ll want to make a good profit on whatever they buy, they’re likely to offer a low price. You’ll need to set a reserve price; but, given the potential buyers' desire to bag a bargain, there is no guarantee this will be achieved. If it isn’t, you could leave with the car still unsold and have to try again. If you do manage to successfully sell your vehicle, you can expect the auction house to take commission, as well as possibly charging an admin fee. There are live auctions across the country, as well as some online auctions too. Related: The REV Test: How to buy a car

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