Selling a car is something most motorists will have to do at one time or another, whether you sell your beloved motor to a dealer, a private buyer or part exchange it in return for something, well, better. Whatever method you plan to use when selling a car, you’ll want to get the best possible price, but that’s not always easy.
Car dealers are notoriously hard negotiators, while the accessibility of the second-hand car market, with the availability of thousands of listings online, means private buyers will always be able to find an equivalent vehicle elsewhere, even if your car represents good value.
So what can you do to increase the saleability of second-hand cars and make sure you receive the best possible price? Here are our essential tips…
1. Take quality photographs
You don’t have to be a professional photographer or have an expensive camera to take good quality pictures of your car, but you will have to dedicate some time to achieving the best possible result. Here are a few golden rules to follow:
- Location, location, location – Parking your car in front of a dingy alley or an industrial estate is not going to make your car look its best or you seem like the most trustworthy seller. We’re not suggesting you take your 51-plate Ford Fiesta to a local beauty spot for its photo shoot, but open spaces like public parks where there are no unsightly shadows or private driveways tend to work well.
- Avoid bright sunlight – Many of the cameras on smartphones are unable to take decent shots in bright sunlight, with glare from the sun bleaching out the detail and leaving the image overexposed. Instead, aim to take pictures with the sun behind you or on an overcast day. The best time to take your shots is between 7am and 9am.
- Quantity and variety – If the online listing is free then upload as many images as is necessary to show the car from every angle, inside and out. Around 10 photos will usually be sufficient. You don’t have to get creative with your shots. Just starting out in front of the car and working your way around it will do the trick. Be sure to include photographs of the front, back, side profile, wheels, the engine, the seats and the instrument cluster, including the mileage reading as proof that it’s consistent with your ad.
2. Deep clean your car
Spending a couple of hours giving your car a thorough clean before you take the photographs will be an effective use of your time. The first step is to wash and wax the exterior, including the tyres and wheels. You can make your own tyre cleaner by mixing baking soda and water to make a thick paste and scrubbing that into your tyres with a brush. For the wheels, equal parts of white vinegar and water will have them looking like new.
You can then move on to the interior, starting with a thorough vacuum of the car mats, the seats and the boot. If there are any stubborn stains then a teaspoon of washing up liquid in a cup of warm water should help to remove them. If the floor mats are beyond recovery then it’s well worth paying £20 for some new ones.
3. Get all the paperwork together
When it comes to selling second-hand cars, potential buyers will take a close interest in the service history. If your vehicle has been well maintained then that is a major selling point, so getting all your service records together and including the term ‘full service history’ in your advert will help to boost its value. Records of everything from oil changes to more major work and routine servicing should be organised chronologically. Nothing is as convincing as a neatly organised stack of service receipts.
If the vehicle is coming up to its MOT or the MOT has run out, consider getting a new one before you put the car on the market. This will be attractive to buyers as it assures them of 12 months motoring before they have to fork out.
4. Minor repairs make a big difference to the overall package
You’ll understandably be reluctant to spend money on a vehicle you’re about to sell, but a few small repairs can make a big difference to the value of second-hand cars. Chips and scratches in the paintwork are easily reparable, either by a professional or doing it yourself if you have the know-how.
Damage to alloy wheels may also be worth repairing depending on the age and overall condition of the car. Windscreen chips can often be fixed under the vehicle’s insurance at no extra cost without affecting your no claims discount.
5. Negotiate like a pro
If you’ve followed our tips until now then you’ll no doubt be inundated with interest in your second-hand car. But before it comes to selling the car, you need to think long and hard about the minimum price you want to achieve. Researching equivalent vehicles online should help you determine the vehicle’s market value. You can then set a slightly higher asking price to reflect all the work you’ve done.
You should be open to negotiating be also be prepared to walk away if a potential deal is not going your way. If you plan to sell to a dealer, pick one who already stocks vehicles that are a similar type and age to your car as they’ll have a genuine interest in buying it. If you’re selling a car privately then make sure you meet potential buyers in a public place, preferably during the day, and always accompany the prospective buyer on a test drive.
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At Tradex, we have been putting tailored motor trade insurance policies in place for car dealers, mechanics, car enthusiasts and more, so we know a thing or two about getting a good deal. We also provide specialist policies for young drivers and personalities insurance for those risks that are difficult to place.