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Car Clinic - Selling Your Car


Well done. You’ve followed the Autoweb.co.uk guides and you’ve a sniff of a sale. A buyer is with you and he or she is talking of making a deal.

If you’ve priced your car fairly and prepared it well, it’s even possible that they’ll offer the full asking price for it. But unless it’s rare and very highly prized, you shouldn’t expect this.

It’s much more likely that they will want to haggle. For some, the prospect fills them with dread, while others will look forward to bargaining.

Whichever you are, the advice is the same: don’t begin until you know exactly how it will end.


in charge

You’re in charge

Remember that, as the seller, you control the process. If the price offered is too low, there’s no sale. Simple as that.

You’ll know from looking at other ads whether the price you’ve set is fair, and if it includes a margin for haggling. It’s important that you have an exact minimum price that you’ll take and that you keep this in mind as you negotiate.

The buyer’s opening line may be something like this: ‘so what’s your best price for the car?’

Don’t give in too soon: we’d advise re-stating the advertised price.


Knowledge is power

Knowledge is power. If you’ve used the Autoweb.co.uk valuation service and your asking price tallies with that figure, say so. If you’ve a laptop handy, go to the site and key in your car’s details as proof.

Remember though that the price shown may have dropped since you placed the advert.

Restate your car’s good points: service history, new tyres, year’s MoT certificate, whatever. Mention the value of these to the buyer (£300 for new tyres, £54.85 for an MoT test).

You could also use your laptop to browse Autoweb.co.uk and show vehicles similar to yours but advertising at higher prices. A little advance research, bookmarking links on your web browser, will pay handsomely here.

Whatever you do, smile, be polite and keep the tone courteous. The haggling may become spirited but remember that it isn’t personal: the buyer is merely trying for the best price, just as you are.

Having stood your ground, we’d expect the buyer to put forward a lower figure. The accepted tactics are that you in turn name a higher figure, with both sides eventually agreeing to a figure that falls midway between the two.

If you instinct is that the buyer is going down such a road, do the maths and calculate the haggling steps so that they arrive at the end figure you want. That done, offer a higher bid and follow up by re-stating the car’s good points: low mileage, service records, extra equipment fitted, whatever.

The buyer may fall silent at this point. Don’t feel you need to fill the space so left by justifying the price or, worse yet, by lowering the price.

Let the silence hang. If it continues, don’t be afraid to say something like: ‘shall we break for a few moments to consider where we both are?’

One tactic the buyer may try is to pull out a bundle of cash and count out the exact amount he or she is bidding, and try to put it in your hand.

Old trick

Old trick

Tempting though this may be, don’t fall for an old trick. Smile, politely thank them for the offer, and move on. Say something like: ‘thanks. I can see that you are serious about this. Now, how do you feel about £XXXX?

Usually, haggling takes no more than a couple of minutes and a handshake then seals the deal. It’s awkward (though possible) to have second thoughts and withdraw later.

But it’s far better to keep things simple: don’t shake on a price unless you are fully happy.

That done, it’s usual for the buyer to leave a deposit to show goodwill. Unless the car is high priced, £100 is fine.

If you can’t agree a price, thank the buyer politely. Say you remain open to a deal if he or she improves their offer, and mention that you may be in touch if no other buyer comes forward.

Once you have accepted a firm offer and a deposit, cancel your advertising. We wouldn’t advise drawing in several buyers and trying to play one off against another. Or, for that matter, seeking a better offer than the one you’ve just accepted.

It makes things complicated and is unfair. We bet that you wouldn’t like it done to you, so why inflict it on others?

Finally, agree payment terms and agree collection. Within seven days is usual but there’s no harm in being flexible provided that the buyer is fully committed to the sale.

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