Before you can get too carried away over buying a new set of wheels, there’s always the dilemma of what to do with your old car. Whether selling privately or trading it in at a dealer, typically hundreds of pounds will rest on your choice.
For those who decide to maximise the car’s value by selling privately, the first decision is where to advertise the car.
If your car is a very popular model, you’re in no hurry to sell, or its value is below £1,000 don’t automatically opt to advertise in the best known car sales magazines like Auto Trader or Exchange & Mart that cover a very large area.
They’ll certainly have a big audience of buyers, so you’d be more likely to get a quick sale. But for the top-selling cars, they’re also likely to have huge numbers listed with which yours will struggle to compete for the attention of buyers. This will probably mean you’ll have to cut your price to make your car stand out from the crowd.
So for bargain or very popular cars, the first place to look into advertising is your local newspaper. Buyers prefer not to travel far and the ad may be fairly cheap. For a wider audience of dedicated local buyers, try a local classifieds paper like FreeAd, Friday-Ad, Loot or similar in your area, which can also be cheap to advertise in.
Other options include trying a card in a local supermarket or newsagent’s window. That’ll either be free or cost just a few pounds. Or putting a big sign in the window and finding a visible but safe place to park your car during the day where there’s likely to be plenty of passing traffic. Bring it home overnight though.
For cars priced below £1,000, if all else fails Auto Trader has a ‘Bargain’ section and advertising on their website costs from just £9.99. But if your car is worth more, their prices go up considerably.
Using the internet to get your ad seen more widely.
More and more people are going online to search for their next car. Submitting your ad to well-known classified sites like Exchange and Mart and Loot can give good coverage for minimal cost.
By far the most popular car selling site is Auto Trader. You can choose to advertise on their website only, or supplement it with an ad in one of their magazines covering your area. But unless your car is priced at under £1,000, their fees aren’t cheap – from £25 for two weeks on the website alone.
eBay also has a thriving car sales section, where you can choose from an auction or classified style listing. However, do watch their ‘listing’ and ‘final value’ fees, which can add up to more than you expect – pricier than Auto Trader if your car sells via auction or Buy It Now. Keenly pricing your car in an eBay Motors Classified Ad for £12.99 may be a better option.
Finally, DesperateSeller is a site that offers to advertise your car on 101 motoring websites until sold. At £29.99 the service is far from the cheapest here, but it is unique and offers a broad distribution of your ad. How many of the websites it distributes your ad to are truly worth the web space they’re written on is the only question.
There’s a wide range of other car buying / selling websites, which we list on our car search resources page. Just follow the link at the bottom of this article and find our ‘motoring links’ section. The few that let you advertise free are worth a look. But for the rest you have to ask yourself how car buyers are finding them and – if you pay to advertise there – how many buyers will really see your ad.
If your car is a bit more expensive or unusual – perhaps a prestige make or classic car – then a national newspaper or specialist car magazine may be a better choice than the options mentioned above.
Finally, a word about scams. Avoid the brokers who ring up and claim that they have several people on their books looking for a car just like yours. They’ll be after a sizable registration fee before allegedly passing on your details. Yet after handing over the cash, few ever hear from them or their mystery buyers again. Ever wondered what all those ‘no canvassers’ statements in the car ads were all about?