Although you frequently get the most money shifting used cars privately, selling your car to a dealer is surprisingly popular. Nearly half of the 7.2 million used cars sold every year go to traders according to British Car Auctions. But if you thought buying a car from a dealer was hard work, you should try selling to one.
Getting the best price can be tricky: traders are hard and often skilled negotiators. It is, after all, something they do every day of their working lives, not once every couple of years like the rest of us. The result is that sellers often don’t get as much as their car is really worth. Here are seven things to concentrate on that should help you get as much money as possible for it.
How old is it and what condition is it in?
The age, make and condition of your vehicle should determine where you sell it and therefore how much you’ll make from it. Take an old banger into a posh new-car showroom and you’ll be offered the minimum amount they can get away with. This is because your old nail is essentially an inconvenience to them. They’ll simply either send it straight to an auction or possibly sell it on to a local used car dealer.
Choose your dealers carefully
You’ll get the most money for a car if the dealer you sell it to actually wants to buy it. The most successful businesses know their clientele and car dealers are no different. Take your four-year old BMW to a dealer whose forecourt is full of eight-year old Fords and you won’t get the best price for it. Not only might your shiny and relatively new motor make their existing stock look a bit tatty, they’ll also struggle to sell it to their customer base. However, take that dealer an eight-year old Focus and they’ll instantly see the value in it.
How much is it really worth?
Just as you need to know how much any car you’re buying is really worth, so you should find out what sort of money to expect for any car you’re selling. Go to Glass’s and CAP Automotive who have valuation tools on their websites. Use any estimates that are for private sales as an upper guide. Then try a handful of online car buying websites. These can vary but on average they’ll be lower than the private price. Finally, find online classified adverts selling cars like yours of a similar age and mileage. Take off a dealer’s profit margin – between 10 and 20 per cent – then put these prices together with the other estimates and you should get fairly accurate upper and lower price ranges for selling your car to a dealer.
Get your paperwork in order
The longer a car’s MOT, the more it’s worth, particularly if it’s an older model. If you’re selling a car with less than three months MOT on it, a dealer will likely try to knock you down on the price. On the other hand, a full service history adds value to a car, particularly if it was done at a franchised dealer. Meanwhile a missing service history can lop around 10 per cent off a car’s value. Remember, changes in the law to road tax mean you can no longer sell a car with unused tax (Vehicle Excise Duty) on it.
Get any damage fixed
Look around most car dealers and you’re unlikely to see dented and scratched cars. That’s because no one wants to spend their hard-earned on damaged goods. If you take a car that’s beaten up into a dealer they will immediately calculate how much repairing the dings is going to cost them. They’ll then knock that – and more ‑ off the money they give you. If you’re selling a car that’s worth £1000 it’s probably not worth spending £200 getting it fixed up as you won’t get that back. If it’s worth £5000, you definitely will see a return on your investment.
Know your car
Understanding what traders want and can sell easily is half the battle if you want to make the most money from selling your car to a dealer. If your car is fitted with desirable options such as air-conditioning, a panoramic sun roof or sat nav, make sure you point it out. If you can find this out, it also helps to know how much these extras added to the sticker price when the car was new. You won’t get this money added to the car’s value second-hand but it’s a useful tool for emphasising saleable points.
Get more than one offer
You’ll never know if you’ve got the best price for your car if you don’t go to more than one dealer. Visiting a handful – and following the other six of these tips ‑ will enable you to be sure you’re getting as much as you can.