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Getting the Best Price for your Car


Follow the guide below to help you maximise the sale value of your car.  Knowing the value of your car is essential.  If you price it too high, prospective buyers won't be interested while pricing it below its true market value mean you wont realise its true value.

how to get the best price for my car

Car valuation

There are a number of used car guides.  Autotrader used a Glass's valuation and charged 3.50 or Parkers have a free check using their own data. These provide an average valuation of your car and therefore the price displayed may differ significantly.  Search the Autotrader website or other classified listings for similar vehicles advertised and gauge a price you think is suitable.  Remember prices will vary depending on age, mileage, condition, options and even colour.  If there are obvious flaws to the car, you need to take these into account when setting a price, and make deductions if necessary.  Also remember it is unlikely you will get the full asking price of your car as they buyer is likely to want to negotiate on the price.


Preparing your Car

Presentation is everything. Prospective buyers will be more likely to express interest in buying it if the car is in an attractive condition.  A clean car that looks well looked after has more chance of selling, and selling for a higher price.  Preparing your car for a sale by cleaning it inside and out.  This is a good time to repair any dents, scratches, missing trim, broken lights and scuffed alloys.  How much you spend depends on the car.  If it is a newer higher value car its worth spending more than an older car where the the odd stone chip or scratch is expected and you are less likely to see a return on your spend.  Put all invoices, expired MOTs, registration documents, manuals and everything to do with the car, in a wallet or folder which demonstrates your pride in the vehicle.


Advertising your Car

Advertising your car for a private sale is often relatively cheap.  For example, you can choose to advertise in a publication such as Auto Trader, Exchange & Mart, Ebay Motors or your local newspaper.  There are also many well viewed websites and publications which allow you to advertise your car free such as Gumtree, Loot and Pistonheads.  If you own a specialist or classic car, try the owners club forum or magazine publications.


Writing a good advert is key to attracting prospective buyers. If your advert doesn't sell your car enough, prospective buyers won't want to even view it and the phone wont ring.  It important to include all the relevant information that a prospective buyer needs to know in a clear and concise manner.  Make sure that you include all of your car details including the model, colour, mileage, manufacturer and the year.  Really try to sell your car, list any optional extras and details about the cars service history, tax and MOT.  Take a good clear photo both inside and out to attach to your advert to help with the sale.


Part Exchanging Your Car

When you part exchange your car, the car dealer will offer you an agreed price for your car as part payment of a new car from them.  Make sure you know what your car is worth before you start negotiating.  Most of the time, the price offered by the dealer will be less than you can achieve by selling your car privately.  Still give the car a clean and remember to take the cars registration document, MOT certificate and service history and all sets of keys to get the best value for your car.  The advantage of the part exchange option is it is hassle free and means you don't have to worry about the sale of your car and the time and risks involved with of selling your car privately.


Other Options

  • Selling your car at auction - An auction is ideal if you want to sell your car quickly and without hassle although you will not get as much as you would selling privately.  Prepare the car as if you were going to sell it privately.  Contact the auction to arrange when and where to take the car.  You pay a small fee to enter the car for sale and the auctioneer takes a percentage of the selling price as a fee.  If you want to set a reserve price below which the car should not be sold this will cost extra.  To get the maximum price take along the car's V5 registration document, any receipts, invoices, details of service history, and a current MOT and tax disc, if there is one.

  • Speak to your local dealers.  If your car is less than 3 years old and has full service history, your local franchise dealer may be happy to make you an offer for the vehicle without you having to buy anything from them.  If you agree a price they will arrange for payment and a pick up time.

  • If your car is less than 8 years old and you need a quick sale, you local non-franchise dealer may still be interested but expect trade price again. 

  • Websites such as and make selling your car even less of a hassle and it can all be done online.

Useful Links


Car Valuations

Car Classifieds

Selling your Car

Avoiding Scams

Other Tips

  • It is your responsibility to informing the DVLA that the ownership of the vehicle has changed hands.  If this is not done, you can still be liable for the vehicle, even though you are no longer the owner.  The DVLA will expect to be informed as soon as the vehicle passes between owners.  Ensure you post off the correct V5 form.  Don't leave it with the buyer do do so.

  • When selling your car privately meet at your address and not at a location where you are vulnerable.  For security, it's best if you have somebody with you.

  • Never hand over the keys and if the car is running, make sure you are in the driver's seat.  If the potential purchaser insist on a test drive check their insurance first and that they have a valid driving licence.  Always accompany them.

  • If a deposit is offered, keep the car until the balance is delivered and state clearly a time limit to complete the deal (e.g. 48 hours or 7 days).

  • If payment is by cheque, keep the car until the cheque clears.  If a banker's draft or money order is offered, telephone the bank to make sure it is genuine.  If you are paid in cash, count it and check the notes are genuine.  We suggest you choose to meet at a Bank where the withdrawal transactions can be witnessed.

  • A receipt should include full details of the car, your name and address, those of the buyer and the amount paid in full.  Include the time and date of the deal and write on it 'sold as seen, tried and tested' to protect yourself against any later claims. Both vendor and buyer should sign the receipt.  An example receipt can be found on the What car website here

Cut Price Motoring user Feedback


George from London comments:  You don't want to sell your car privately only to find you need a car to get about, especially to go and view new cars to buy.  What I done put a deposit on a car at the dealer and we agreed I would pick it up in 2 weeks time.  That gave me 2 weeks to sell my car otherwise I would have to part exchange it for the dealer (stealer) at a pre agreed price.


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