Where is the best place to sell your car? Should you do it online or privately? And what do you need to do before you sell?
There can be a lot to think about when you want to sell your car. In this guide, we talk you through the basics — from what you need to do to where to sell.
What to consider before selling your car
As you might have guessed, there’s no single best place to sell your car. And that’s because car dealers and online marketplaces come in a range of different shapes and sizes — just like your car.
You need to find the buyer that’s best for you. And that will largely depend on your answers to the following questions:
- What condition is your car in? The price you’ll get for your car and your options for selling it will depend on its condition. How many miles has it done? Does it need maintenance work? Has it recently passed a service or MOT?
For example, you might find that if your car is a very old model, your only option could be to sell it for scrap.
- Have you had it valued? Similarly, it’s worth knowing how much you could expect to get for your car before you sell it. You can do this easily online by searching for free car valuation services, but don’t just trust one valuation — shop around for different options.
- Do you want to sell it online or in person? While there are so many options for car-selling websites, some people prefer to meet the buyer in person. For example, you might want to part exchange it for a different vehicle — and seeing that new vehicle first might be wise.
- What are your priorities? Do you want to get the best price or do you just need the car off your hands? Every option for selling your car will be a toss-up between price, convenience, and speed of sale.
- Do you have all the paperwork? Typically, you’ll need a V5 (often known as a V5c, which proves ownership of the vehicle), as well as the service and MOT history, before you sell your car. Don’t forget the spare set of keys either, if you have them.
Any buyer may well pull out if you don’t have all these things to hand at the sale.
Ready to sell your car? Here are some options.
Where is the best place to sell your car?
As we mentioned, different methods of selling your car have different perks and drawbacks. While some options promise convenience, they might not be the best for price. And while you might manage the whole process yourself to get the best price, this could be more difficult to coordinate.
Ultimately, the final decision is up to you. Here are your options.
1. Sell your car privately
Private car sales are the traditional way to sell your car.
The upside is that you have control over the whole process, including choosing the buyer and potentially getting the best price. The downside? It can be quite time intensive — and there are no guarantees that you’ll get the sale.
There are two main ways that you can sell your car privately: offline or through an online marketplace.
Online marketplaces are a popular way to sell your car. They let you post an ad, decide the price, and manage messages from potential buyers, but you have to do it all yourself.
You may have used an online marketplace before. Sites like Gumtree or Facebook Marketplace have a potentially huge audience, which you can make use of to sell your car locally or further afield.
The handy thing is that these are free to advertise on. But as they’re places where you can sell anything for any price, your ad might be alongside a lot of low-quality listings. This can make it difficult to find serious buyers.
Alternatively, you can try an auction site like eBay. The difference here is that potential buyers are able to bid on cars for sale. This can help you get a higher price.
Another option is to use a specific car marketplace such as Auto Trader. This is one of the go-to options for buyers of used cars and the site can get a lot of traffic, meaning it can be easier to get a serious buyer.
Be aware though that Auto Trader charges a fee for your listing if your car is over a certain value.
Selling your car offline
Some people don’t want to sell their car online at all. Luckily, there are still options for in-person sales.
One possibility is word of mouth. Ask your friends and family if they’re in the market for a car, or if someone they know is.
You can also post adverts in your local shop, newspaper, or community centre. This way, you might find a buyer in your local area.
While this route can be convenient if you find someone easily, there’s no guarantee that anyone will be interested, so you may end up having to use a different option.
2. Use a car dealership
Rather than handling the sale yourself, you can get in touch with a car dealership to sell your car.
Like all other ways to sell, this has its advantages and disadvantages. It can be easier to sell this way, particularly if the dealer is close by. But used car salesmen are notorious for negotiating hard and you might not get the best price.
There are three different ways you can sell through a dealer: part exchange, a direct sale, or through auction.
A part exchange is one of the most common ways to sell your car. This works as the name suggests. You trade in your old car for a new model and pay the difference.
It sounds easy enough, particularly if you need a car straight away.
But it’s important that you have a good idea of what your car is worth in advance — and what the new car you’re looking to buy might be worth, too. Car dealers are ultimately out to make a profit and the exchange might involve a bit of negotiation.
An alternative is to sell your car directly to a dealer without exchanging it for a new one (you might not want a new car after all!).
In this case, all you have to do is head to a dealer and see what they offer you. It helps to shop around to see if you can get a better price.
A good option is to go to a dealer that specialises in the make of your car, whether that’s Ford, Fiat, or Ferrari. They tend to offer better prices.
Another option is to auction your car through a dealer or auctioneer.
This has the same benefits as using a site such as eBay, where potential buyers bid to buy. But you don’t have to handle the sale yourself and you’ll have the guidance of the auctioneers.
They’ll advise you on a reasonable price that you can expect. However, at an auction, there’s no guarantee that your car will sell for the price you want. That’s why the auctioneer may suggest that you set a reserve price — this is a minimum price below which you won’t sell.
3. Try an online car buying site
An increasingly popular option for selling your car is through an online car buying site. In fact, you’ll likely have seen ads from companies such as WeBuyAnyCar, Cazoo, Cinch, and Motorway.
All of these platforms focus on making car sales easy. Typically, you’ll simply enter the details and condition of your vehicle into the website and you’ll be given a quote. Then, someone will come and collect your car and money will be transferred straight into your bank account.
It definitely is quick and easy. But you may not get the best price compared to if you managed the sale yourself.
Also, bear in mind that any price that these sites offer will be subject to a real-life inspection of the car. So, everything you tell them about your car’s condition will be checked before you receive payment.
4. Sell your car for scrap
Finally, there’s also the option of selling your car for scrap.
This won’t be your first option if you have a new model, the car runs well, or you want to make a bit of money from the sale. But if your vehicle no longer starts or you’re not being offered as much as you’d like by other methods, it can be a good option.
To be completely honest, for many cars it may even be your only option. Depending on your car’s condition, there may not be many people who want to buy it.
Simply, scrappers will pay you for the raw materials or bits of machinery contained in your car. If you have the know-how, you can even sell the individual parts of your car yourself. But the most common options are to use an instant scrap buyer or a scrappage scheme.
Instant scrap buyers work much like other online car buyers. They’ll give you a quote and come and collect your vehicle, often the next day.
Meanwhile, scrappage schemes allow you to trade in your car for scrap and get a discount off a new car. Get in touch with your car manufacturer to find out more.
Quick summary: The best place to sell your car
Before you sell your car, consider your priorities:
- Do you want to make a quick sale, or do you want to get the best price possible?
- Are you more interested in convenience or control over who buys your car?
- Do you want to part exchange it or sell it outright?
- Does your vehicle still run?
Ultimately, how you answer these questions will determine the best way to sell your car. Whichever option you choose, it’s always smart to shop around.