How to sell your car used to consist of giving it a good clean and putting an ad in the local paper and maybe in the newsagent’s window and waiting for the phone to ring.
Nowadays selling a car privately offers more options than it used to. It’s still considered to be the best way of achieving the highest value for a used car, and is certainly popular judging by the huge number of used cars appearing on sites like Auto Trader.
Where Shall I Advertise My Car?
The options include both online and offline (print) media:
Local newspaper – although print media are less popular and circulations are dwindling, it’s usually a low cost option.
Local notice boards and shop windows – a low cost or sometimes free option. Make sure your advertisement is neat, factual and preferably includes a photo or two of your car.
General Car Selling websites – sites such as Gumtree and Exchange and Mart could be worth considering along with the ‘for sale’ section of your local community website (if one exists in your area).
Notice in the car window – worth a try and can be an effective way of selling a used car. Make it neat and clear.
Car selling websites – Auto Trader is the main one with thousands of cars at any given time. There is a cost involved, of course, and you may have to fend off canvassers.
Other car selling sites include Piston Heads, Motors and Car Pages.
Print v Online – The Advantages and Disadvantages
Print – if using local print options such as your local newspaper, then it can be reasonably cheap and you’re likely to be dealing with a local buyer to you. It’s probably good for selling a relatively old or worn out car – even allowing for the advertising costs you’ll likely get more than a dealer might offer.
The drawbacks are mostly those of speed – the process of sending in your advertisement and waiting for it to be printed can take a week or two. Not good if you want a quick sale. Also, you have a limited buyer pool due to the local nature of the advertising and shrinking readerships.
Online – if using a large site like Auto Trader, you can have an advertisement online and be reaching thousands of potential buyers in minutes. There’s plenty of online selling site options – a search will yield several – and this method could be especially effective if your car is unique. Online sites can speed up the whole sales process compared to print.
The downsides are mainly that it isn’t face-to-face, and you do have to be on your guard against people trying to scam you. Potential buyers may try to knock you down on price quite aggressively – possibly due to there being no face-to-face contact initially.
Selling Your Car Privately – Pros and Cons
Advantages Of Selling Your Car Privately:
Best price – this is really the key advantage of selling privately. You’ll usually get the highest price for your car compared to other methods such as auctions and selling to a dealership.
Disadvantages Of Selling Your Car Privately:
Expenses Involved – the higher price you may get by selling your car privately has to be offset by the costs. You’ll need to spend on advertising and at least some money on preparing your car for sale. This can range from a few pounds on car shampoo and polish to maybe more on a full valet (advisable), perhaps repairing a few scratches and possibly putting it through an MOT test.
If the car does not sell, then further advertising costs could be incurred.
You may miss the chance of buying your present car’s replacement at a good price because your present one is taking time to sell. In a case like this choosing a faster method such as selling to an online dealer may be more cost-effective overall.
Slow– you may sell it quickly, but it could take time compared to, say, an online dealer who could possibly make you an offer and conclude the transaction in a matter of hours.
When it comes to how to sell your car, the private sale route incurs more hidden costs than you might think, even though it may generate the most money for your car.