The complete guide to selling your car

Whether you're trading your car in for a new model or are just getting rid of it for cash, we reveal how to get the best price...

For sale sign in car

The first thing to consider is where you're going to sell your car. Traditionally, there were two options: selling to a dealer (the more straightforward option) and privately (which would make you more money).

These are no longer your only choices, though; the digital age has seen the arrival of eBay and other online companies who are ready to help you find a buyer for your car.

However, before you do anything else, it's important to find out how much your car is worth. So, What Car? offers a free car valuations tool that will give you a certificate detailing its value in all types of sale.

Trade-in/dealer sale

This is still the quickest and easiest way to find a new home for your car. If a dealer is keen to sell you a new vehicle, he or she may offer a good price for your old car. But conversely, if you negotiate a good discount on your new car, the dealer may be reluctant to give you the best price for the one you have to sell.

Where to sell your car

The best course of action is to try to haggle a price for the new car up-front, before you start discussing the fact that you have a car to trade-in, because this will help you ensure you're getting the best deal on both counts.

Sell your car to a dealer online

You can also try Motorway to sell your car to a dealer for a better price than part exchange or selling direct. Motorway works with a network of more than 5000 dealers nationwide. Simply enter your car's reg, then profile your car. The firm will then enter your vehicle into a daily sale where dealers compete to buy your car for the best price. You can then proceed with the highest offer it finds.

Private sale

As a rule, you will get more for your car by selling it privately. However, the process can be time-consuming, and you will need to be available to take phone calls and meet buyers for inspections and test drives.

Online auction

Using a general online auction is quick and easy, but it is also potentially the riskiest way to sell your car, particularly if you set your sale as an auction without a minimum price.

You need to be sure of your car’s value, then set the auction up accordingly; include a reserve price if there's a minimum amount you're willing to accept. And bear in mind that the fee you pay to the auction company when your car sells will cut into the amount of money you'll make.

Where to sell your car

Online buying companies

Selling your car to a professional online buyer is a quick and easy alternative to selling privately or at a dealer, but you probably won’t get the best price. Only you will know if it’s worth it to avoid the usual car-selling hassle.

However, there are other reasons why selling online may suit. If your car has a high mileage, is in less-than-perfect condition or is simply getting on a bit, you may struggle to find private buyers or dealers who are interested. Online buyers tend to be less judgmental and just value the car as they see fit.

Make sure you know the real market value of your car, and don’t let an online buyer fob you off with a drastically lower valuation when they actually see the car; they're well used to desperate sellers who are willing to accept less for their car at the last minute in order to get rid of it. If this happens, or they start adding on extra charges, it's time to walk away.

Donating to charity

Rather than simply scrap a low-value used car, you could donate it to charity instead. Many charities accept donations of cars; roadworthy ones are sold at auction and unroadworthy ones scrapped. It’s easy to donate your car online, just make sure that 100% of the proceeds will be going to your chosen charity.