Selling a car is often a daunting and time-consuming experience. Whether you’re placing an ad on an online auction site, dealing with private buyers, or negotiating a sale or a part-exchange at a dealership, many of us will feel out of our depth.

More often than not, your best route for selling is simply attaining a solid understanding of your options. So, let’s look at the four main methods of selling a car – and at the pros and cons of each.


1. Selling your car privately

Selling a car privately can involve anything from putting a car ad in a local newspaper to sticking up a note on your local supermarket's pinboard. However, these days, sellers will more typically use online sales platforms that will present their car advert to hundreds of thousands of engaged users.

Despite this, there are no guarantees with this method – and it is usually one of the most time-consuming options for selling. For best results, you will need to craft an advert that will make your car ad stand out in a crowded marketplace. It is also a good idea to add a range of photos that show the car in its best light. If you find that you’re not getting any pickup from prospective buyers, there are usually options to get you more visibility – though these can be expensive.

When your car ad does get responses, you will need to take time to respond to calls and emails from potential buyers. Then take time showing them your car and potentially taking them out for a test drive.

If a prospective buyer is interested, you will usually then have to negotiate over the price – which can be frustrating and awkward.

Private sales are very hands-on and can take considerable time. There’s also no guarantee that the sale will come off. If it does, however, you are more likely to get a better price for your car than with other means of selling.

Pros: Usually a high price

Cons: Time-consuming, no guarantees, paying for extra visibility


2. Part-exchanging your car

Before the rise of instant car-buying websites, this used to be the most common way of selling your existing car in order to trade up to a newer model.

Car dealers were usually happy to take your unwanted car off your hands as long as you were paying for a new one at the same time. This was often seen as a better option than laboriously trying to sell your car privately – as you could avoid the uncertainty and hassle of dealing with enquiries, viewings, and test drives.

However, when you part-exchange a car, the price you will get for it will typically be much lower than you would usually get from a private sale.

As it is up to the dealer's discretion whether or not to include your old car as partial payment towards a new one, it can be difficult to negotiate a better price.

Pros: An easy and hassle-free option

Cons: A low price that is hard to negotiate


3. Selling your car to an instant car-buying website

If you are keen to offload your car and aren’t really worried about the money, you can sell via a car-buying website.

This is a straightforward option. After you’ve entered your car’s details online and received a valuation, you then need to take the car for an inspection.

Though your valuation may be on the low side, when you take the car to the inspection, you may find the price offered is further reduced.

Bodywork scratches and other minor damage will often impact the initial valuation at the last minute, especially if it was not previously disclosed online. Consequently, the valuation price will often be different to the price offered following the instant car-buyer’s inspection.

Pros: Quick sale

Cons: Can be a low price, which can be reduced upon inspection


Selling your car with Motorway

A simple way of ensuring that you get healthy competition and multiple offers for your car is using Motorway – a free online service that will put your car in front of thousands of verified car dealers, who will then compete to give you the best price for your car.   

Simply enter your car’s reg on Motorway’s website and you will be provided with an instant estimated sale price based on up-to-the-minute market data. They’ll then ask you a few easy questions about your car and guide you through the photos you need to take to complete your vehicle profile. It can usually be done right from your phone – in a matter of minutes.

If you choose to enter your car into their daily sale, it will be shown to Motorway’s nationwide network of more than 4,000 verified dealers looking to add to their stock of used cars. Interested dealers will compete to buy your car, offering you their best price.

In as little as 24 hours you will receive your best offer – and, if you choose to go ahead with the sale, your car will be collected for free by the dealer and the money will be quickly and securely transferred to your bank account.

Pros: A quick, easy, and free sale; giving you the highest price from a network of verified car dealers

Cons: You might make more selling privately

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