How I sold my old car


I love cars, I always have. I love the memories I have with mine, which made one day last month very hard as I had to sell my old people carrier. Whilst I won’t miss the regular trips to the garage and the skittish, ageing suspension, I will still miss it because it’s the car my children have grown up with for seven years and it’s been like a giant perambulator for our family life. There are certain squashed raisins in certain cracks beneath the seats that can never be fished out, lying there unreachable, as a testament to journeys long since completed.

The offer from the showroom

So when we ordered our new car from the dealer we haggled over part-exchange. We didn’t get a great offer although after some shameless arm twisting they raised the offer from £1500 to £1900. For a low mileage, top spec, 8 year old car with 12 months MOT and full service history, it was a bit miserly. It’s not a lot to come away with once I’ve sold my car.

Why was the offer so low? Well firstly we were selling them a different make of car. Wrong badge, they didn’t want it. They would have to transport it to the auctions. Also they don’t know much about them and only have an industry guide (Glasses) to help them price it, and even then I know Glasses said £2200 so they knocked a good bit off to be on the safe side. But the other issue is the industry-wide slump in car prices, and that affects everyone. Manufacturers are pressurising dealers to shift stock so they don’t want your part-ex car as extra stock.

Looking for a better deal

Once we had a date to take delivery of our new car I went hunting to try to get more money for my old car elsewhere. I started with We Buy Any Car. I entered the details on the website, (there’s no option to note any damage) then they display a glitzy headline figure “your car is worth £3060 subject to inspection” and so I booked an appointment at my local centre which turned out to be a sparse hotel room on the second floor of a tired Victorian building. A charming young man took some details and then came out to inspect the car. He barely looked inside, this turned out to be all about bodywork. I got quite annoyed that the faintest and infinitesimally small door-dings no-one would mend or even see were noted down as “dent, over 5cm” a phrase which appeared to be the most damning remark he could record. Then he turned round to me and said “Wow! It’s in fantastic condition!” and knocked £500 off his offer. Oh man.

The We Buy Any Car bloke said if we did the deal on the spot he would increase the price by £100 but the problem was that it was still 5 days before I took delivery of the new car. Clearly I should have left this closer to the last-minute. The company’s TV ad leads you to believe that selling your car for cash will boost your power to haggle a better deal on a new car. I can’t see this being the case at all. It made no difference to the price of our new car and several dealers told us that nowadays their profit and commission are unaffected by the method of payment, whether cash or finance deal. So it was a good offer but I kept looking.

The independent dealer

The next day I took my old people carrier to a local independent car dealer with who sells a mix of cars of a similar age. His inspection was even more cursory than We Buy Any Car but my first impression was that with about 30 years of experience in the business, he properly knew his stuff. He told me what Glasses guide said, I told him what We Buy Any Car said, so he offered me a smidge more and without even remembering to haggle I said “yes”. Uh-oh. I kicked myself. Still, it was such a big improvement on the part-ex from the new car showroom. This independent dealer will tart the car up and sell it on his own forecourt, saving himself the expense of auctions and transporters. Then he said “it does drive ok, doesn’t it?” Um, yes, but what timing for that question?!

The process of selling

So the day before we got our new car, I went back to the private car dealer, gave him the V5C (removing the yellow section first), the MOT, the service history and two keys. He gave me a company cheque and I walked home car-less! I probably saved £25 on a taxi by selling locally. I logged on to the DVLA website to claim my car tax back which was simple. They said the cheque would arrive in 4 weeks but actually it was 4 days. I altered my car insurance with LV which they initially got wrong but quickly amended next day. Once the decision was made on who to sell it to, the process was easy peasy.

I then contacted the dealer from whom I was buying a new car, told them that the part-ex needed to be removed from the deal and we would give cash value instead. I had talked to them in advance about possibly doing this. They simply re-issued the paperwork for the sale without the part-ex.

If your car is worth less than £1000 then chances are that part-ex might be better value for you as some dealers of both old and new cars offer a minimum part-ex value. But the moral of this story is don’t take the car-buyers adverts at face value and do allow time to take your car to a few places to get the best price.

Find out how to choose options when ordering a new car by clicking here.

Roadtrip ideas: Dark Sky Drives, Seeing Stars with the Family and How We Planned our Midwest American Roadtrip.


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