Where to sell your car

Whether you're looking for a trade-in or are just keen to get rid of your existing car for cash, there are a wide variety of ways to sell

Words ByClaire Evans

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Traditionally, there were two ways to sell your car: 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 take your car off your hands.

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 with 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 something new he or she may offer a good price for your old one. 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.

If possible, then, you should try to haggle a price for the new car before you start discussing a possible trade-in because this will help you make sure you're getting the best deal on both counts.

Private sale

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

Online auction (e.g. eBay)

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 fixed 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 abare in mind that all the time, the fee to the auction company will be increasing, cutting into the amount of money you'll make.>

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 that 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.

Read more – How to prepare your car for a sale

Read more – Payment, paperwork and avoiding scams

Read more – How to write the perfect car advert

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