Where should you sell your car?

Choosing where to sell your car is an important decision, weighing up the pros and cons of various possibilities

Words by: First published: 4th August 2015
When you're thinking about selling your car, there are two key factors to consider. The first is whether you want to get the maximum amount of money, and the second is how much time and effort you are able to apply. Depending on how much importance you apply to these factors, there will be an option to suit you.

These are your main choices:
Selling privately
Doing all the work yourself is likely to be the way to get the most money – 10 to 15% more than selling to a dealer, according to the Money Advice Service. And, if you advertise here on Auto Trader, you’ll be putting your car in front of the UK’s largest car-buying audience.

However, you’ll need to have time – and the patience – to create an ad, as well as respond 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.
  • BEST FOR Getting the best price
Selling to a dealer
Nipping down the road to your local dealer is certainly quick and easy - especially if you're part-exchanging your car as part of the deal - but 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 will almost certainly have some work to do to get the car retail-ready.

Use our free valuation tool to get an indication of how much your car is worth, but remember that there’s no guarantee of a good price, so you may need to visit more than one place to get a decent deal.

This option is worth considering if you don’t want to deal with buyers coming to view the car. It therefore may be less time-consuming, especially if you are willing to take a little less money for the vehicle. Indeed, there’s a lot to be said for the sheer convenience of selling your car this way, and you could get a good deal on any new car you’re buying if you choose to part-exchange. It’s certainly worth considering.
  • BEST FOR Getting a decent price without too much effort
Car-buying websites
There’s plenty of glitz and glamour in the advertising for websites that guarantee to buy your car, but the reality may not be as attractive. Most importantly, these are businesses who want to make money from selling your car, so they're likely to offer less than its true market value.

You should also take into account that any value you’re quoted online will be subject to an inspection (when they may drop their offer) and you may also have to pay an admin fee, which will further reduce the price you achieve.

On the other hand, if you just want to get rid of your car and get hold of some quick cash with the minimum of hassle, this could be the best way.
  • BEST FOR A guaranteed sale
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 and, as they’ll want to make a good profit on whatever they buy, they’re likely to offer a low price.

As part of the process, you will need to set a reserve price; but, given the potential buyers' desire to bag a bargain, there is no guarantee this will be achieved, which could mean you leaving with the car still unsold.

If you do manage to successfully sell your vehicle, you can expect the auction house itself to take commission, as well as possibly charging an admin fee.
  • BEST FOR Putting your car in front of multiple potential buyers at one time without having to discuss price with them.
Related topics:
Selling your car