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Part exchanging an old car used to be the natural choice for many drivers – after all, you can offload your old motor – and get money off a shiny new one at the same time. For many, it seemed like a perfect win-win scenario.

These days, however, there are so many companies to sell a car to, that the subject warrants careful consideration – and, ultimately, the best method for you will depend on your priorities.

Part exchange your car with a dealer

If you choose to part exchange with a dealer, it basically involves two deals being done in a single transaction. Typically, you trade in your old vehicle, for a newer, more expensive one. A price is then given for your old car, and, if acceptable, you then agree to pay the difference – either by paying it to the dealership or by taking out finance on the new car.

For many, this is the ideal way to buy a new car. After all, you sell your old car immediately – and get to choose a replacement there and then. It’s a quick, straight-forward and largely hassle-free solution, right?

The dealer always wins

Dealers are out to turn a profit. This is not surprising – however, in order to do that, the proposed price given for your old car is often on the conservative side to say the least. Additionally, dealers are usually keen for you to choose an expensive upgrade, as they get commission on any finance you take out.

Though it might not be as quick, if you want to get the best price for your used car, it is usually better to sell it outright rather than through a part exchange.

Selling your car privately online

If you want to achieve the best price for your car, selling it privately is likely to be the solution for you. Although it can involve a lot of hard work and many hours of your time – with zero guarantee of success.

Auto Trader

Placing an ad on an online marketplace – like Auto Trader – has become a popular way to sell cars privately over the last few decades. With thousands of cars for sale and around 7 million monthly web visits, the Auto Trader website aims to connect sellers to buyers.

However, as with all private sales, there are no guarantees – and finding the right buyer for you on Auto Trader can still take a long time and be extremely frustrating.


eBay offers a slightly different way of selling your car privately. As an online auction site, it allows you to create a reserve price and sell your car off to the highest bidder. Theoretically, as long as enough genuine buyers see your listing, the final auction price should reflect something like the car’s true value.


Gumtree is a major destination site, where users can buy or sell practically anything – however, one of its key verticals is used cars.

As long as you’re not a dealer, it’s free to advertise on Gumtree – unlike with AutoTrader and eBay – so there are no overheads when it comes to advertising.

However, Gumtree’s vast size and lack of specialism means that many of the cars are ridiculously overpriced – and, thus, it can be tricky to connect with serious buyers.

Is selling privately online better than part exchanging?

Whilst selling privately online can often get you the best price for your old car, it is far from hassle-free.

Not only do you have to contend with members of the public coming to view your car, you will need to make yourself available for test drives, and organise all the appropriate paperwork.

Also, with many online platforms, such as Auto Trader and eBay, there are charges to list your car.

merc2Selling your car privately offline

Of course, if you’re looking to sell a car privately but don’t want to place an ad online, you still have options.

You could try word of mouth. This might sound old-fashioned, but actually most professional marketers are aware of the power of word-of-mouth advertising – since such recommendations are typically infused with a sense of trust.

So, why not start by asking family and friends if they might like to buy your car? If not, ask them to ask their own personal networks.

There are other things you might try such as placing an advert in the local newspaper or in a shop window?

If these things do succeed it generally hinges on you getting lucky – and, even still, it will probably be a fairly long and drawn-out process.

However, you are likely to get a better price than if you part exchange with a dealer.

astonSelling with an instant online car buyer

Of course, if you do take your car to a dealership for a part exchange, there’s no guarantee that they’ll do you a deal.

Depending on the make and model of your car, they may not think buying it is a viable option. Whereas, if you use one of the new breed of instant online car-buyers, a sale is practically guaranteed.

Like doing a part exchange, you probably won’t receive as much as if you sold your car privately. However, the process is designed to be completely hassle-free.

The popularity of such companies – like WeBuyAnyCar and The Car Buying Group – is no doubt due to the simplicity of their model.

Normally, you just value your car online, and then arrange a collection or a drop-off appointment. There’s an inspection, followed by a final price negotiation, and the sale is done.

Even simpler than a part exchange, the major hurdle is trying to work out which instant car buyer will give you the best price for your car in such a saturated marketplace.

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