Selling your car: where to do it

Selling your car: where to do it

Thursday, 13 December 2012 4:22 PM

How can you achieve a successful car sale?

How can you achieve a successful car sale?

There are several ways to sell your car, and the one you choose will depend on how much effort you want to put into the sale yourself, as well as the extent of your desire to get the best price possible. Read on if you need some help deciding on a particular channel for selling your motor.

Do it yourself

The traditional way of selling your car involves advertising it yourself and dealing with potential buyers directly. There are a number of ways in which to do this; some drivers still go down the old-fashioned route of placing a 'for sale' sign in their car window along with some brief details of mileage and price. Others opt for paying for a listing in the local newspaper or a car magazine.

Increasingly, however, the internet has become one of the most popular ways to advertise a car for sale. Both specialist car selling websites and more general portals like eBay and Gumtree are packed with ads placed by sellers keen to reach as wide an audience as possible.

While this can be a convenient way to sell your motor, there are certain pitfalls associated with going down the online route. Some buyers are less than trustworthy and it can be difficult to know how best to make sure the transaction is a safe one when faced with a username that could easily be a fake account set up by a scammer. Plus, it's possible to have your listing end with a single bid on the car, only for the bidder to email you demanding that you lower the final price before they pay.

The best way to tackle this is clearly displaying some rules in your listing that help reduce the risk you're exposed to, such as where you will ship to (if relevant), how willing you are to negotiate over price, and the specific forms of payment you will accept.

The website itself should also be able to help if anything goes wrong, although this isn't always the case (and it can be time-consuming to get issues resolved in this way). However, if you're at all unsure about using the web to sell your car, it's well worth considering the alternative – going through a trusted middleman.

Sell via a third party

Going through a reputable car dealer or auction house is probably the best option if you're selling a car for the first time and aren't confident in your ability to spot a rogue buyer. Sell direct to a dealer and the whole thing can be over in a matter of days – ideal if you need a quick sale.

Using a traditional auction house, meanwhile, is recommended if you've tried selling privately, but have had little success. It's also a viable route if you have a rare set of wheels (in which case, get it professionally valued!), or an unusual car that is hard to place a specific value on. Just bear in mind that there can be a fine art to setting the right reserve price; if it's too low, you may end up selling for much less than the motor is worth, while you risk not attracting any bids at all if it's too high.

However, one of the main benefits of selling at a car auction compared with going online via a generalist site is the fact that you're more likely to get legitimate buyers putting in bids on your car, as many auction houses require bidders to register their details with them before each event and will also deal with things like payment and paperwork for you. Although this doesn't completely reduce the risk of falling foul of a scammer, having that extra cushion between you and the buyer will be useful.

So, to sum up, advertising yourself is your best bet if you know what you're doing and/or if you want to sell to a local buyer. Otherwise, going through a third party could be a better option.