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Car Clinic - Selling Your Car

How to price your car

Buying your next car should be fun. But, to do it right (and that’s why, we bet, you’re reading this), there’s a lot involved. Relax though: this Autoweb guide, written by experts, is the first in a series that will guide you every step of the way.

You will, likely as not,, have something you’re currently driving that you must first sell. And the amount you raise will be key to what you spend on your new car.

Later in this series, we’ll advise how to get your current vehicle into best shape to attract buyers. For now, though, you need a figure to start from.

Check value

Check the value

The easiest way to obtain is this is using Autoweb’s valuation tool.

Just tap in your registration number, add its current mileage and we’ll give you its value for sale privately, what you’d pay to buy one similar from a car dealer, what he’d give in part exchange (trade in) and also what you’d expect if to raise at an auction. Finally, we tell you its manufacturer’s list price when it was new.

Our valuations work for most mainstream makes and models up to 10 years old. Take your figures and fine-tune them by comparing against vehicles just like yours that are currently for sale on Autoweb.

Once you’ve got it, use Autoweb to check the figures against what else is available locally and adjust if necessary.



Miles and condition are king

Recorded mileage and overall condition affect value. Privately owned cars typically cover no more than 10,000 miles a year. If you’ve used yours more heavily, you’ll need to sell it for less. And if you’ve passed the 100,000 miles mark, that’ll hit its value hard. Most makes and models will then sell at a low, low price.

However only a few years back, most would-be purchasers shunned such cars entirely. But better-built vehicles and improvements in engine technology mean that, with correct care, many will now run to 200,000 miles or more without needing major repairs.

And that fact is dawning on buyers who now see that, at the right, such high-milers can make bargains with years of service still to give. So if the mileage on yours runs into six figures, price it towards the low end of what most others ask

Low miles

Low miles means a better price

At the other extreme, cars that have covered very low mileages will command higher prices. But that’ll be true only if service records back up that total as pukka and also that the car has been looked at every year by a garage, regardless of the distance covered.

What’s more, such cars need to be in excellent shape within and without to command a premium: scuffed bumpers or scraped alloy wheels will spoil your chances.

Bear in mind, too, that the market will dictate an absolute upper limit depending on the car’s age. A three year old car will always be worth far less than a new one, even if it is really ‘as new’, having covered just a few dozens of miles.

A word or two about service history. A fully stamped book will help a car of, say, up to four year old, achieve closer to its asking price and will make any sell more easily. Add to that a pile of receipts for work done and you send all the right messages to would-be buyers. That said, such paperwork won’t in itself add much to all-in value.


Value of extras

The value of extras

Optional extras such as alloy wheels, leather upholstery and built-in sat-navs may have originally cost thousands. But the plain truth is that, on a second-hand car, they add next to nothing to its value. They should, however, make it sell a little faster. ‘Go-faster body’ kits bought from accessory shops, huge stereo speakers and cheap-looking floor mats will drag the price down.

Paint colour makes a difference, too. Metallic silver, grey, red or blue are the shades buyers prefer, although black works well on sports cars and off-roaders and white is OK for Minis and performance hatchbacks. Bright, candy shades attract on Fiat 500s and Smart ForTwos.

But if yours is dark blue or dull green, you may need to drop the price to see it go.

Whatever you’re selling and irrespective or whether it’s via private sale or trade-in, two things are key. First, preparation matters. Showing your car at its best, clean and smart and with its papers in order will pay you back. We’ll explain how to do this in other chapters of this guide.

Taking time to write a good advertisement will help enormously, too. Again, we’ll explain elsewhere just how to do this well.


Speed is everything

But second, decide how quickly you want to sell. If a speedy sale matters most, selling cheaply is the only way to go. Don’t go too low because you should expect the buyer to haggle over price.

If you’re in no hurry to sell, pitch the price a little higher than most. Remember, you only need someone to want your car badly – and you’re quids in.

And finally…

If you’re selling privately, don’t ask as much as dealers locally are charging because you almost certainly won’t get it. And remember, too, that location matters. If you’re in the middle of nowhere, you’ll need to drop the price to draw interest. That’s especially true if you’re in the Scottish Highlands or Cornwall.

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