Selling your car used to be a pain. You could take it to a dealer who would be most interested in you trading it in against one of their cars for sale. They would offer as low a price as possible to ensure they could turn a good profit when they put the car on their forecourt.
You could advertise it in the local paper or a sales weekly such as Exchange & Mart. That meant steeling yourself for timewasting phone calls from buyers trying to knock you down to a ridiculously low price. Or you could park the car outside your house with a ‘For Sale’ notice in the windscreen and hope for a buyer to magically appear.
Thankfully, the internet has changed all that. Today there are a host of ways to sell your car online, all of which market it to a much wider audience than the traditional methods ever could.
The various online options also allow you to be as involved with the sale as you wish. If you’re up for the challenge, you can deal directly with buyers and manage everything yourself. If you have better things to do with your time, you can now simply spend a few minutes entering your car’s details on a website, then accept a payment from a specialist car buying firm and have them collect the car from your home.
So among all these sites, which are the best? Well that depends on what you want to achieve. Let’s look at the choices.
Selling your car to a car buying service
Specialist car buying services have become very popular in recent years. They make selling your car simple and convenient, which is great for getting rid of it quickly and easily. They’re also great if you don’t like the idea of haggling over the price of your pride and joy, or you’re worried about strangers coming to your house.
Using an online offer site usually won’t get you as much money as selling the car yourself directly to the end buyer, whether online or in person. Just as with trading the car in at a dealer, any business putting in an online offer needs to make a profit by selling the car on to someone else.
Selling your car via a traditional ad
If you’re comfortable with the business of haggling over a price, you may do better by selling your car directly to a buyer through an ad site like Auto Trader or Gumtree. But beware – when you do this you must follow the golden rules about selling a used car to ensure you don’t end up getting ripped off, or worse.
Chief among these is the payment – many sites merely bring you and the seller together and leave it to the pair of you to sort out the actual sale and payment.
Private sellers may be wary of handing their bank details to buyers, but you should be even more wary about accepting cash. Most car dealers stopped accepting cash payments years ago, so private sellers have now become a prime target for money launderers. Have a look at our feature to ensure you don’t get left with no car and a load of useless fake money…
So, let’s look through some of the best websites for selling your car.
Motorway is one of the most effective and quickest ways to sell your car to a dealer. You simply enter the car’s registration and mileage and your contact details, and press the button. Motorway then gathers offers from its network of participating dealerships before coming back to you with the best offer for your vehicle.
Assuming you’re happy, the winning dealer will usually collect your car from your home or ask you to take it to a local collection point. Once the car is handed over, the money is transferred into your bank account on the same day.
Motorway works out offers based on your location, and works with many of the major car buying sites now on the internet. It also includes scrap merchants and recyclers for those wanting to dispose of a non-runner.
Remember that any offer on an online site are subject to seeing the car in the metal, so bear that in mind when looking at the prices being offered. Motorway surveys all owners who sell through the site to find out what they were finally paid for their car, and also collects final selling prices from the dealerships it works with. This data is then used to make the valuations of cars entered into the site more accurate.
We Buy Any Car
We Buy Any Car is the best-known online car buying site, mainly due to its extensive radio and TV advertising. The service proudly boasts a 4.5 out of 5 TrustPilot rating from more than 80,000 customer reviews.
Like Motorway, you enter your car’s registration and mileage into the site to start the ball rolling. You are also asked for the number of previous owners and whether the car has a full service history, which are factored into the offer price.
There is no free car collection service, so you have to take it to the company’s nearest outlet. They say this is usually no more than about 15 minutes away but it can sometimes be a fair bit more than that so it’s worth checking. The final price offered is subject to a personal inspection once you get to the outlet, so also bear that in mind. We’ve had several reports of readers unhappy with the amout of money knocked off the online offer price for minor cosmetic issues.
This service also charges a transaction fee, from £50 for cars valued between £100 and £3,999 to £75 for cars valued at £5,000 or more. You get your money within four working days, unless you are willing to pay yet another fee. This costs £25 for next working day or £30 for payment within 30 minutes of dropping off the car.
These little things can add up to a fair chunk of money, especially if you have to make arrangements to get home again once you’ve handed over your car. If your car isn’t worth that much to begin with, or is looking a bit battered, you might not have much money left by the time you get home.
Once known as the magazine everyone bought when looking for a used car, Auto Trader is now an online-only service. However, it’s one that is still very widely used. Anyone looking for a used car online will generally check Auto Trader first, while scanning the site is a daily task for used car managers at dealerships. So use this site and you are putting your car in front of a potentially big audience.
Auto Trader is principally an advertising service, providing you with a means to get your car in front of potential buyers. Like most classifieds sites, it leaves the mechanics of the sale – such as viewing and payment – for you to sort with the buyer. However the site does offer comprehensive advice to help you, with lots of information on preparing your car, creating your advert, taking payment and avoiding scammers.
All this costs money, though. There are four levels of fees for putting your car on the site, from a basic ad for two weeks at £37 up to an ‘Ultimate’ level at £75 that keeps the car on the site until it’s sold, and allows you to include 20 photos and even a video of your car.
Auto Trader also offers a car buying service similar to Motorway or We Buy Any Car, but it’s not available everywhere. When we tried, the computer said no to a mid-Wales location but worked fine in south-east England. The valuation feature asks lots of questions about the car’s condition, which we found produced the highest value of all the sites we checked. However, once again it comes down to what the final offer is once an assessor physically views your car.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last 20 years, you’re probably familiar with eBay. The vehicle section, eBay Motors, works much the same way as the rest of the site for selling your stuff – you post details of your car with a picture and then set an auction over a length of time you choose. You can set a starting bid price and reserve price if you wish, or you can set a ‘buy it now’ price which allows a buyer to secure the car immediately.
eBay takes care of one major headache – payment – so you know you’ll get the money before you release the car. But, like other classified sites, arranging viewing and collection is between you and the buyer. There’s also a fee to pay – a minimum of £15 to list the car (with extras such as Buy it Now increasing the fee) and then a ‘final value fee’ of 1% of the price paid, up to a maximum of £45.
While online selling takes some risk as to who you are really dealing with, eBay does give you some means of checking through its feedback ratings – a high feedback score suggests your buyer is a safe bet. If you sell through eBay, you should ensure you leave feedback on your buyer and encourage them to post feedback on you – it will help the next time you come to sell.
When it comes to general classified sites, it might seem obvious to go straight to eBay. But Gumtree has a major advantage over its better-known big brother (Gumtree is owned by eBay) – its ads are free to private sellers. Fees are only payable if you boost your ad with extra features. For lower-priced cars, which is the majority of cars sold on Gumtree, that can be a significant advantage.
Creating your ad is simple. Entering your registration brings up the vehicle’s key details, while the site offers advice on putting the rest of your ad together. This includes tips on adding photos and such, as well as a video guide on preparing your car for sale. There’s also specialist advice on selling a van, motorcycle or caravan.
Gumtree also has a deal with vehicle data specialist HPI Check – every car on the site is provided with a basic vehicle history check and, if it passes, a note appears next to the ad confirming the car has not been reported stolen, written off, scrapped or exported.
There is one potential disadvantage compared to eBay – Gumtree has no online payment facility. It merely brings buyers and sellers together in similar fashion to the likes of Auto Trader. So if you find a buyer for your car, you then have to conduct all the negotiation and money changing directly with them.
While Facebook is a very familiar part of every day for so many people, chances are that far fewer regard the social media site as a place to sell your car. However the Marketplace section, launched in 2016, is steadily growing in popularity.
It’s particularly popular with those trying to offload cars at the cheaper end of the market and who don’t want to spend money doing so – Marketplace listings are free. It works like any other classified ad site – you simply click on Marketplace in your newsfeed and open the selling section. There, you can choose a vehicle-specific button and enter details of your car, including photos.
Once uploaded, your car can be seen by any Facebook user who looks on Marketplace. Potential buyers can narrow down their search to types of car, mileage and location, helping to guide likely buyers to your ad.
All sale negotiations are between buyer and seller – Facebook simply makes your ad visible. If things go wrong, you have no comeback against the site. However as the buyer will be another Facebook user, you can at least have a look at their profile and get a feel for the kind of person you are dealing with.
Car Converter/Car TakeBack
These are two sites where you can go if you have a car you simply want rid of. They specialise in buying cars that are either significantly damaged or fit only for the scrap yard. As a result, they’ll make offers when many other car buying sites won’t.
Prices are generally competitive for this end of the market. You won’t get much money for your car, but you’re likely to get a better price here than from your local scrap merchant. Both firms also collect cars right across the UK – so if your car is damaged or an MOT failure, you won’t even have to drive it to the scrapyard…
- More car ownership news, information and advice at The Car Expert
- Sell your car with Motorway for the best price and least hassle*
*Motorway is a commercial partner of The Car Expert. If you click on one of the links above and end up selling your car through Motorway, we may receive a commission. This does not affect the price you receive for the car.