How you choose to sell your car – to a private buyer, a dealership or at auction – will partially dictate the time you need to spend turning your wheels into cash. Part-exchange with a dealership is unarguably the most convenient and fastest way to sell your car. You can literally arrive in your current car and drive away in the new one on the same day. What you gain in terms of convenience is partially paid for in price. There are pros and cons to everything.

Selling your car privately

Most people will tell you that if you want the best price possible for your car, the only way to sell is to a private buyer. That’s someone who plans to make your car their own – or gift it to a family member or partner.

Most of the time that’s true, but it also depends on the buyer. Some people are great at haggling and you can find you’ve ended up selling for less than you intended to.

Of course, there’s also all the work you’ll need to put in to ensure you get a buyer for a private sale. Not only will you need to gather all the paperwork (this is necessary for all selling methods), you’ll need to make your car look great, photograph it, choose where to sell your car, figure out the right price, put together an ad and then field questions from possible buyers.

All of this might look like an evening or weekend job, but in reality, it can take weeks or even months to sell your car privately. All that’s fine, of course, if you have the time. If time is precious for you, other options for selling your car will be better.

Sell your car at auction

Selling your car at auction is a different beast entirely from a private sale. For one, it’s much easier. This is because most of the work is going to be done on your behalf by the auction house. Of course, there are pros and cons to this too.

On the pro side, once you’ve gathered together the paperwork and found an auction house to sell through, your job is pretty much done. There’s no need to worry about time-wasting tyre-kickers, fielding ridiculous questions from potential buyers or worrying if you’re getting the best deal on your next set of wheels. Selling through an auction house is relatively quick.

Most UK cities will have one or two regularly held car auctions each month. A quick search for car auctions with your closest city’s name will bring up the best ones near you. Some auctions are only open to car dealers, others to the general public.

You’ll need to get in touch to have your car inspected. Once done, they’ll give you an estimated price and if you’re happy, it’s game on! That means you agree on the reserve price – the minimum you’ll accept and have them sort the rest. They’ll arrange photographs, the lot description and advertising for the auction.

If your car goes under the hammer, you’ll need to pay a commission to the auctioneer and sometimes an entry fee for the auction(s) your car was in. This can be anywhere from £5 – £20 for entering the auction and then around 10% of the sale price for commission. The cost of auctions can feel like a massive downside and the non-guaranteed sale isn’t great news either. Still, if you don’t sell, there are no fees to cough up.

Selling to a dealership

As mentioned earlier, selling your well-loved car to a dealership is the fastest and easiest way to get rid of your wheels and make way for a new set. Selling to a dealer is easy because they smooth the whole process for you to make it a breeze!

On the pro side of selling your car to a dealer, it is fast and super easy. Paperwork is mostly taken care of and you know all of the necessary boxes will be ticked and taken care of properly. There is no need to worry about advertising, taking strangers for test drives, fielding questions from vaguely interested buyers or giving up weekends to chit-chat with strangers.

You won’t lose a commission on your sale price, but it is likely you will get slightly less than you would for a private sale. This is because dealers buy used cars at wholesale prices, not retail. This allows them to add a margin when they sell your car, to cover their business costs like rent, wages and utilities.

Doing a little of the dealer’s work when you intend to part-exchange can help you get a better price. That means making sure your car is immaculately clean, every scrap of paperwork needed for the sale is with you and the spare key can be handed over too. If you do your homework and have a good idea of what your car is worth, you can negotiate a better price too.

Start the negotiations on the price for your car with a strong offer that you can back up with the market research you have done. It’ll also help if you choose a dealership that is likely to want your car on their forecourt. That means selling to a dealership for the make your car is – a BMW dealer is far less likely to give you a good price on your Suzuki than a Suzuki dealer will.

At the end of the day, where you sell your car comes down to a question of convenience versus price and time. If you have loads of time on your hands, selling privately makes sense. If you want a fast sale, a dealer is going to be your best bet.

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