Selling guide: getting the best price for your old car

Find out the car’s worth

When selling your car, the first thing to do is find out its value. There are loads of websites where you can do this by filling in the registration and a couple of other simple details – like the AA. This will help you see what the car is realistically worth, set a competitive price, or recognise if you’re being ripped off!

Once you’ve got an approximate value, compare the price to similar models here – check models of the same age with a similar spec and mileage. This is particularly useful if you want to sell the car privately; you’ll be able to match what other cars are selling for.

Where to sell a car

There are a number of different ways to sell your car, each having their own pros and cons. Some will enable you to get the most money in return, whereas some are considerably easier and stress-free:

Car-buying companies

Arguably the easiest option, car-buying companies allow you to log the car’s details on their website and give you an instant quote for it. However, you’re unlikely to get the full value for it, but some see this as a good compromise for how easy it is. You can also run the risk of the quote getting reduced when the car is physically looked over – even the slightest scratch can cost you.


Part-exchanging is a great option if you know exactly which car you want next. Here, you exchange your old car at a dealership and get the value knocked off a new one. This can be done on finance too, but the process isn’t as straightforward – ask your provider for information on this. You won’t get as much money for your old car as you would with private selling, but you save valuable time by not selling it yourself. And you can walk away with a new car pretty quickly!

Selling directly to a dealer

This is another good option if you don’t want the hassle and stress of selling the car yourself. But you won’t get as much money back. A dealer will offer you the car’s trade price and will charge you for any additional costs. To maximise the amount of money you’ll get here, take the car to a dealership specialising in the same make. If you take it to a different manufacturer (eg taking a Ford to Vauxhall), they’ll likely take it to auction – and charge you for it.

Private selling

Selling privately is usually the best way to ensure you get the most money for your old car. This can be done on car listing sites or through auctions. You may have small listing and admin costs, but on the whole, you can sell your car for its direct value. However, private selling is notoriously time-consuming – you will have to carefully write up the advert and specification, take photos, and arrange viewings with potential buyers.

Selling privately? Here’s how to get the best deal

A clear and accurate advert is crucial for getting buyers interested. Include the full name, trim, and engine size and type, as well as information on mileage and specification. Having a full service history is a massive pull for buyers, so make it clear on the advert if you have it.

Be honest about any faults. While they may reduce the likely selling price, being clear from the get-go makes sure buyers know what to expect. They might feel less like they’re being ripped off – imagine how annoyed you’d be if a dealer sold you a faulty car!

Take clear photographs of the car from all angles, including any faults. Avoid taking photos in direct sunlight to prevent glare. If you can, take photos with a neutral rural background – they’ll probably have more pulling power than a picture on your drive.

It’s also good to consider the time of year when selling. Certain models will sell better at different times. A 4×4, for example, will probably appeal more coming up to winter.

Once you have potential buyers arranging viewings, be prepared to haggle. Buyers will try to get the best deal – you could decide on the lowest acceptable price beforehand so you’re prepared for any negotiations.

Private selling is probably the best option for getting the most cash, but other options cut out the hassle of selling in exchange for a percentage of the price. In order to get the best deal, you need to work out which option is best for you. Ultimately, you need to be realistic about what your car is worth but be prepared to turn down an offer that you’re not happy with.

Share this article:
We’re rated Excellent Trustpilot
4.9 out of 5 on Reviews 1774
“ChooseMyCar is Ranked #1 out of 102 companies in the section Car Finance and Loan Companies with 884* 5 Star Reviews”
*as of August 2021