How to get the best price for your car


Restoring your car for sale can pay off but don’t go overboard, writes Geraldine Herbert

There is good news if you are planning to sell your car Motorcheck says prices for second-hand cars have risen sharply since 2010. On average, it costs about 18% more for a three-year-old car today than it did in 2010. This is most likely due to two factors: the shortage of stock has meant used car prices are higher, and the recovery in the economy means buyers can access cash more readily – either through their own means or by raising finance – so there is now more cash chasing a limited supply of used cars, which in turn is pushing up prices.

So when it comes to selling, how do you get the best price for your car? The two key factors are the condition of your car and the sale price. Time takes its toll on cars and everything from salt, grit, rain and snow to people and pets leave an indelible mark on your once-pristine vehicle. When it comes to selling your car, restoring it to its former glory will not only reap the best price but it will have buyers falling over each other to get their hands on the registration cert.

So first of all, give the car a thorough wash and, if you know how, a good polish and wax will make a huge difference to your paintwork. Depending on the value it may be worth getting this done professionally. Make sure the interior is as spotless as the paintwork on the outside. Clean the seats, vacuum the carpet and polish the dashboard. Make it look and feel like a well-cared for car. Finally, make sure the NCT is valid.

How much repair work you do on your car before selling it depends on whether you decide to trade it in at a dealership or sell it privately. While selling a car privately often means getting more money it also is a lot more hassle than going to a dealer.

A dealership will determine the value of your car based on mileage, service history and condition.

Generally, if you are bringing your car to a dealership don’t bother getting bodywork done, they prefer to see the small marks and do the work themselves rather than risk a bad paint job. Don’t get new tyres or get it serviced.

Finally, don’t waste money taxing it.

While the price the dealership will offer you will reflect the amount of work they have to do, it is still always cheaper for them to do repair work than you, as they will do it for a fraction of the cost.

If selling privately however, then there are a few additional things you can do to improve your car’s kerb appeal.

Fix any paint chips or minor body damage, this includes any window-glass defects.

Depending on the value of your car, you might also consider if a new set of tyres would be a cost-effective measure to help sell it. But do not replace them with budget tyres – you are better off leaving them as they are rather than wasting money on cheap ones.

Ensure your car’s headlights, brake lights and turn signals are all in working condition

There are some things you can unfortunately do nothing about and the absence of a full service history is one of them.

Finally, it’s important to set a reasonable price for your car. Set it too high and you will turn buyers away; but if it is too low you may lose out on a good deal.

Striking the balance when selling a car is the key.

Here are a few good tips:

1) Online valuation tools help get an average price.

2) Search online for similar cars that are for sale – the same age, condition, mileage and those with similar extras.

3) Cars sold through a dealership will cost more than those for sale privately, so compare your car to cars being sold privately to arrive at a value.

4) Visit a dealer to get an idea of your car’s trade-in value

5) Remember, seasonal fluctuations can influence prices. An oversupply of convertibles on sale in summer will lower selling prices; similarly, the threat of a bad winter can mean demand for 4x4s will soar.

Geraldine Herbert

16th February, 2016


Author: Geraldine Herbert

Motoring Editor and Columnist for the Sunday Independent and editor of wheelsforwomen. Geraldine is also a regular contributor to Good Housekeeping (UK), EuroNews and to RTÉ, Newstalk, TodayFM, BBC Radio and Vigin Media. You can follow Geraldine on Twitter at @GerHerbert1

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