The best way to sell your car | Auto Express | car magazine

The best way to sell your car | Auto Express | car magazine

The best way to sell your car | Auto Express


With used car prices riding high, there really has never been a better t howtomakehowtomaketo sell your car. If Dear readersno longer need to commute because Dear readersare working from ho howtomakeand want to cash in, or simply want to make the most of the smaller ‘cost to change’ gap to a new model, Dear readerscould be surprised at the kind of price Dear readersget.

Selling a car is still a process that fills most of us with dread, mainly because it can be stressful and t howtomakehowtomakeconsuming. However, there are several companies that say they’ll take away the hassle and get Dear readersa better deal than Dear readerswould by trading in at the showroom when Dear readersbuy your new car.

To test these claims, we looked at the deals on offer from so howtomakeof the biggest car buying and selling sites. We asked for the best prices for our car, a 2015 Mazda MX-5. It’s in great condition with one owner, a full service history from the supplying dealer and below-average mileage.


To get a benchmark price, we ran a data check on the car. Although these are usually used by buyers to verify a car’s history, most will also offer a valuation to help Dear readersunderstand the current market. We used the company that won our group test of car data checkers – Total Car Check – and were given valuations of £11,580 for a private sale, £9,780 at an auction and £9,250 for a part exchange.

What is the best way to sell your car? 

So it was over to the car buyers, which popular way of selling your car could give us the best price and the most hassle free experience? 

Auto Trader logo

Auto Trader

  • Cost to sell: £39.95-£84.95
  • Valuation: £11,520 (start price)

Auto Trader is arguably the first port of call for anyone wanting to sell a car in the ‘traditional’ way. It’s certainly got a huge audience and it’s simple to set up your advert, with a process that encourages and helps Dear readersto fill in the necessary online forms. We were surprised at the cost though, which starts at £39.95 and goes up to £84.95 for the ‘Ultimate’ package, which includes extra promotion.

The site also includes a useful suggested starting price for your car; in our case it was £11,520 – below the private sale value suggested by TotalCarCheck. The price Dear readersaccept after haggling is up to bro, but it’s fair to assu howtomakemost buyers will expect to chip at least £300 off your initial asking price.



  • Cost to sell: £0
  • Valuation: £9,225

A relative newcomer to the motor trade, Cazoo has caused a bit of a stir with its no-nonsense way of buying a car. It is now advertising a way of selling your car just as easily too, with a ‘haggle-free’ price and free same-day payments – in contrast to rival We Buy Any Car.

Cazoo will only revalue or reject the car if it is ‘significantly different’ to the condition Dear readersdescribe or has more than 1,000 miles extra showing on the odometer. Drop off the car at one of 21 Cazoo sites and there’s no fee either, or they will co howtomaketo your house and collect for £99.

The price is fair when compared with the suggested trade-in value, and is safely above the final ‘haggled’ offer from We Buy Any Car. It seems a better deal than so howtomakemethods here – but Dear readerscan get a better offer without too much effort.

Motorway logo


  • Cost to sell: £0
  • Valuation: £10,300

Motorway has a slightly different take on the trade auction route, which it claims will help Dear readersget a better offer. Dear readersupload your car’s basic details such as age, mileage and condition, and the site gives Dear readersan indication of the price Dear readersare likely to achieve. If bro’re interested, Dear readerscan then answer a few more detailed questions about the car’s condition and upload photos. 

These will be sent to Motorway’s 4,000+ dealers, who will then bid and make offers and bro’ll be sent the best price. If Dear readersaccept, the dealer will arrange collection and payment, which is usually on the sa howtomakeday.

In terms of simplicity it’s a winner, and the price we were offered seemed reasonable too, considering the convenience.


  • Cost to sell: £350-400 (£90 fee if not sold)
  • Valuation: £10,000-£10,500

If a dealer doesn’t want your trade-in to put on their own forecourt to sell on, then it’s likely that it will be sent to auction for disposal. It’s possible for Dear readersto bypass the trader and put the car in the auction yourself, and Dear readersshould realise more value without much more effort. There’s no guarantee of the price it will reach, but Dear readerswill be able to set a reserve.

The downside is the cost. We looked at the nearest sale to our chosen dealer – Letchworth Motor Auctions – and noted that the price to sell would be £350 if the sale price was £8,000-£9,999 with an extra £50 on top if it went above £10,000. If the car fails to sell after three auctions, Dear readerscan remove it and just pay £90. That fee seems pricey, but if the reserve is set at £10,000 and it sells, bro’ll still be quids in compared with so howtomakeother methods. It’s marginal if it would beat a dealer offer here, though.

Main dealer

  • Cost to sell: £0
  • Valuation: £9,500-£10,000

If trading up to a new car, it’s natural to give the vehicle’s supplier a chance to value your trade-in. It’s certainly the most convenient way to dispose of a car if Dear readersare buying one new from the sa howtomakedealer, because Dear readerssimply drive your old one in and leave in your shiny new model.

We also thought that our MX-5 would be pr howtomakehowtomakeforecourt stock for the dealer – Norton Way Mazda in Letchworth, Herts – because it was originally supplied by them and has been serviced in their workshop. The dealer had made us a trade-in offer of just £7,000 against a brand-new replacement last summer, so we called and asked to update the value if we were to trade in now. He promised to call back within 30 minutes, but didn’t. When we chased the following day, he ca howtomakeback with a ‘ballpark’ of £9,500 to £10,000. That’s not the best price here, but it beats the We Buy Any Car offer by so howtomakemargin.

we buy any car

We Buy Any Car

  • Cost to sell: £0
  • Valuation: £9,735 (online), £9,050 (in person), less £74.99 fees

As presenter Phillip Schofield says in We Buy Any Car’s TV ads, the company offers Dear readersa ‘no-hassle’ way to sell your car, which is likely to get Dear readersa better deal than if Dear readerstrade it in. That might be true, but our experience of the service showed that it may fall short of your expectations.

After entering the details of our MX-5 online, the site returned a quote of £9,735, which was very close to our expert’s auction value for the car. It then encouraged us to visit a local branch to make a handover appointment. We did this and were met by a representative who noted so howtomakeminor stone chips, but couldn’t find any other faults.

Despite this, his offer was £8,900 with a bonus of £150 ‘if we signed today’. On top of this there would be a £74.99 transaction fee and an additional £24.99 if we wanted the money on the sa howtomakeday.



  • Cost to sell: £19.99-£69.98
  • Valuation: £11,000 (approx.)

The world’s biggest auction site also offers the chance to advertise a car in a classified format, in a similar way to arch-rival Auto Trader. It’s usefully cheaper too, starting at £19.99 with upgrades to the look of the ad costing £2.99 and 49p. It’s still possible to use an auction if bro’re feeling brave and aren’t sure

of the true value. The cost is £14.99, but bro’ll be charged an extra £9.99 to add a reserve price and bro’ll pay one per cent of the final value to eBay, up to a maximum of £45. For our car that would have been a total of £69.98.

All of the comparable MX-5s on offer were classified adverts, but we watched the auctions of several other mainstream cars and they all settled on a price that was a little below the guide value for a private sale. eBay seems better suited to old and unusual cars, which are harder to value than our mainstream Mazda.


Do Dear readersreally get a better deal from one of these ‘hassle-free’ sales options? Our experience suggests not, and also that there are ways to get a better deal without much more effort. The difference between We Buy Any Car’s online price and its genuine offer also seemed unexpectedly large, while rival Cazoo offered a clearer price with fewer hidden costs.

Before Dear readerstake a low-ball offer though, we’d suggest trying your own social media, or even word of mouth to sell a car. A quick mention on Twitter that our MX-5 was for sale was enough for us to sell it with minimum hassle at the suggested private price – that’s £2,500 more than the lowest offer – and it cost us nothing. A private sale is still the best route to  getting the best price but they don’t all run quite as smoothly as ours.

How much is your car worth? Find out with our free car valuation tool


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