Arguably the most important thing when you sell a car is to find an answer to that question “how much my car is worth?” There are three main ways to determine a car’s value: one is to trawl online car sales websites to see what similar examples to your model sell for; the second is to go to online car valuation sites; the third is to try car takeback services. We look at the pros and cons of each here.
Find out how much similar examples sell for
This is perhaps the most time-consuming way to find out how much a car is worth. You need to go to a variety of online car sales websites which is easy enough. But to get an accurate price, you must find examples of cars for sale that correspond exactly with your motor.
What do we mean by this? Well, it has to be the same model as your car and have the same engine and power output. It must also be the same age and registration and have covered the same number of miles. And lastly, it’ll ideally be the same specification as your car and that’s down to the optional extras.
Reality is, you probably won’t find more than a handful of cars that are an approximate match to your model. So you need to take an average value.
If you take your time and do it accurately, you’ll get a good idea of the price your car is selling for in the real world. But you’ll have to be dedicated.
Online car valuation websites
There are various websites that offer to value your car. The downside is, most require you to give your contact details and they then bombard you with spam. One of the better ones we’ve found is Parkers. Simply put in your registration number and it spits out a price. Two prices to be precise: one for if you’re interested in selling privately, one to a dealer.
Online car sales websites
On the face of it these are an excellent tool. You put in your registration number, miles you’ve covered and approximate condition of your car and they give you back its value. The trouble is they have an agenda: to get you to sell your car to them so they can make a healthy profit from selling it on.
That manifests itself in two ways. We put the details of a six-year old Polo into three of these websites and got three values back: approximately £5,000, £6,000 and £7,000. Reality is it’s worth somewhere between the first two figures. But some sites have a reputation for quoting a high price. This entices you to take it into them. Then when you’re on site and mentally committed to selling, they lower the price by picking up on tiny bits of damage.
Others are more up front and offer you a realistic price to begin with. Either way, unless you have some kind of benchmark, they’re an unlikely way of getting a guideline price.
To get an accurate value for your car you really need to know what cars are selling for on the open market. If it was us, we’d use a combination of online valuation website and research of live prices from internet car sales sites. Just remember that if you’re selling to a dealer, they won’t buy from you for the same price that they’re selling similar examples for.
I’ve been writing about cars and motoring for more than 25 years. My career started on a long-departed classic car weekly magazine called AutoClassic. I’ve since pitched up at Autosport, Auto Express, the News of the World, Sunday Times and most recently the Daily Telegraph. When I’m not writing about cars and motoring, I’m probably doing some kind of sport or working in my garden.