BUYING a new car is exciting, but you’ve got to sell your old one first.
Getting a valuation for your car is vital for figuring out exactly how much cash you’ve got to splash on the next one.
But how do you figure out how much your car is worth?
The easiest way is not to worry about it all, and simply trade it in at your nearest dealership. No hassle, just let them take it off your hands while you drive away in your new motor.
The trouble is, you might be cheating yourself out of a chunk of cash – money much better spent upgrading to a flashier model or just tucking into your back pocket.
Getting a valuation is therefore the smart thing to do before you even think about pricing up a new one, because you might have more money to play with than you thought.
Even for trade-ins it shows you’ve done your homework and the sales person can’t take you for a seller who jumps on the first low-ball offer they get.
What is forecourt value?
This is shorthand for the retail price a dealer can sell a second-hand car for on their forecourt.
It’s a useful guide when you’re trying to value your car, because you can compare yours with others of the same type and with comparable mileage and spec.
To figure out the average forecourt price simply use the filters on online classified sites to match the age, mileage and model of the car you’re selling, and see what vehicles exactly like yours are going for at dealers.
It’s a good starting point, but remember the prices you’re looking at represent top whack and include the dealer’s preparation costs and mark-up.
If you’re trading your car in, or selling to a retailer, you’ll only get the trade price, which will be considerably less than the forecourt value.
Should I sell my car privately or part-ex(change)?
Selling your car privately means you cut out the middle man and get to pocket that difference yourself.
And if that’s your plan these forecourt values are a useful best-case guide for what your car might be worth.
Just remember that buyers may prefer the security of buying from a retailer, given the extra protection, warranties, finance and other services they can offer.
So you may have to drop your price expectations a little to compensate.
If you’re not selling to a professional buyer and choose to sell privately from home on a classified website, you need to have the know-how to be able to handle the calls, emails and viewings by tyre-kickers as well as some who may be canny operators and able to spot an inexperienced seller from a mile off.
As such they may know how to haggle you down on price, so you need to be confident in your valuation and able to stick to your guns even when they’re piling on the pressure.
Private viewings, test drives and even payment all offer opportunities for scammers to rip you off (or worse), and if anything does go wrong you’re on your own.
Done properly, selling privately can see a much better return. But given all that potential stress you may decide it’s worth taking slightly less money for your car for the convenience and safety of a dealer trade-in.
How much is my car worth?
Valuing your car doesn’t have to be complicated. Car selling websites like Motorway offer free car valuations, which is a handy tool for figuring out how much money there is in your existing car – and what that gives you to play with when choosing your next one.
They can even put it in front of a network of verified dealers nationwide to find your best offer, and handle the whole sales process from start to finish.
Valuing a car is a complicated business, but age and mileage are simple starting points to figure out a ballpark price.
It’s not rocket science: newer cars are generally worth more, and if you’re comparing two identical models, the one with just 10,000 miles on the clock is going to be worth more than the one that’s racked up 20,000 in the same time.
Just put yourself in the buyer’s shoes and ask which one you’d go for, given the same choice.
It might sound basic but, however you’re valuing your car, these are your first considerations.
Yet there are loads of other factors that might make your car worth more. If you’re going through a car selling website, make sure to add extra detail and as much information as possible to make the valuation more accurate.
Does service history affect my car’s value?
Service history is an important bargaining chip when buying and selling, and if you want your car to secure the best price you’ll be in a stronger position if your car has all its paperwork up to date.
Most newer cars will have been serviced within the dealer network anyway, and both private and trade buyers will expect (or even insist on) evidence of this.
Much of this information is now stored online within the dealer network for newer cars, so the days of physical stamps in the service book are gone in many cases.
But you will need to be able to prove you’ve stayed on top of the maintenance.
If your car is still within warranty this should in most cases be transferable to the new owner, assuming you’ve had it serviced properly.
Check the small print but this may also apply to extended warranties you may have taken out on the car, and can add reassurance for buyers that will help you get the right price.
For older cars that might have been serviced outside of the main dealer network it’s on you to make sure you have all the receipts to prove you’ve looked after it properly.
A neat folder with everything presented in chronological order will reassure buyers you’ve been a responsible owner, while evidence of recently replaced tyres, cambelt changes or other big services will also help.
While some buyers may be willing to take a punt on a car with no history whatsoever, most will consider this a risk and expect you to drop your price accordingly.
What factors can affect a car’s value?
- Your car’s optional extras will play a big part in how much it’s worth, and how it compares with other ones like it in the market. So, if it’s got that fancy infotainment upgrade, expensive options like leather upholstery or spangly wheels, these may add to its value
- Colour can play a big part: used buyers for mainstream models generally prefer conservative silvers and blacks rather than more extrovert choices – though for trendier city cars the opposite may actually be true
- For performance models, or cars with a bit of a following, there may be certain must-have options fans are willing to pay extra for, too. That could be anything from signature colours, ‘performance’ packs with factory sports suspension, or just a really tasty set of wheels
- On the flipside, DIY or aftermarket mods like non-standard rims or body kits probably go the other way, and look less desirable
At what mileage should I sell my car?
Presenting your car well is important if you’re selling privately.
But for the trade, mileage remains the key indicator for condition and value – which is one reason many finance agreements put such strict limits on how far you can drive the car each year and penalise you if you go over this.
As such if you’re trading your car in as part of a finance package your mileage will likely have been within these limits anyway.
For older cars sold outside of such agreements there’s no fixed guide on what mileage you should sell it on at, and sensible buyers will work to an expectation most cars will cover around 10,000 miles a year.
Accordingly a six-year-old car with 60,000 miles on it will be considered average, while one with half that could be worth a bit more.
Once you go over 100,000 miles most buyers will – rightly or wrongly – consider that a negative. Most main dealers probably won’t touch a car with these kinds of miles with a bargepole, though independent used retailers may be more receptive – especially if it’s a brand known for long-term reliability like Toyota, Honda, VW or Audi.
Drivers doing 20,000 miles a year or more may consider selling their cars more often than those doing average or low miles, so as to maintain what value they can in their cars.
Some cars – especially prestige and supercars – are especially sensitive to mileage and the market often looks down on anything more than 10,000 miles.
For ‘flippers’, looking to make a killing on new models where demand way outstrips supply, even a 1,000 miles on the clock can be too much. But this is an extreme example and for most buyers an averaged out mileage adding up to around 10,000 per year will be fine.
How to get the best price for your car
Think of advertising your car as creating a profile for a dating site.
You wouldn’t use a picture of yourself with bloodshot eyes, morning after hair and a stained old T-shirt there, and nor do potential buyers want to see poor quality photos of a dirty car in the corner of a muddy car park.
So, make an effort. Get the bucket and sponge out, give the car a really good wash and maybe even treat it to a bit of a wax. If that uncovers a few stone chips, a scuff on the bumper, car park door dings or a kerbed wheel or two consider getting these patched up and professionally repaired before putting your car out there.
So-called ‘smart repairers’ can even do this on your driveway, saving money and hassle compared with a trip to a conventional bodyshop.
Give the interior a clean, too. Nobody wants to see last week’s fast food wrappers festering on the passenger seat when they’re viewing a car, whether it’s in real life or in photos.
So clear all your rubbish, receipts, drinks bottles, charging cables, child seats and other clutter out, give it a proper once over with a vacuum cleaner and wipe the dash down with a cloth.
If you really want to go to town there are all manner of potions and products you can use inside and out but, at the end of the day, nothing beats good old-fashioned elbow grease.
Looking good? Now you can see about getting that valuation for your car.
Which is the best car valuation site?
Selling a car can be a stressful business, but there are sites and services out there to take the strain out of it.
Sites like Motorway can guide you through the process from start to finish, and will put your car in a sale which shares it with the 3,000-plus dealers on its books.
Any that like the look of your car will then put in a no-obligation bid and, if you accept, they’ll pick it up and transfer the money straight into your account. They can even take care of any outstanding finance, leaving you to pocket whatever’s left of the sale price or put it towards your next car.
Whether you use their site or advertise the car yourself, it’s important to get some good photos of your car to make it stand out in the listings and boost its value.
This is where all that effort cleaning it pays off. Find a quiet car park or road somewhere you can easily shoot the car from all angles, avoid extremes of bright sunlight or pouring rain and take the time to photograph every side – not just its good side.
The camera on your phone is usually fine and Motorway’s photo app will even guide you through the process, prompting you to take exactly the shots dealers bidding for your car will want to see and, hopefully, landing an attractive offer.
If you’re going it alone make sure you have a look at listings for similar cars and you’ll soon see the difference between a good-looking ad and a poor one.
And when you find a good example just follow that same template and selection of angles to shoot the car from.
No need to be arty – just straightforward shots of the front, back and both sides showing the condition of the paintwork, close-ups of the wheels and then some interior pics so people can see it’s worth what you’re asking.
These simple steps and a little bit of extra effort could well be the difference between just selling your old car or actually making some money on it; the valuation apps helping you seal the best deal.
And if that means more cash in your pocket, or a little extra to lavish on the next purchase, then it’s win-win. Happy selling.
How much does low mileage add to car value?
It’s hard to separate the affect that mileage has from other factors that affect a car’s value such as age and wear and tear, and a high mileage affects the value some models more than it does others.
However, as a very general rule, it is thought that a car with a low mileage lose around 20% of its value for every 20,000 miles added to the odometer.
Obviously this represents a smaller amount of money as the car’s value depreciates — a car will lose a lot more value from 0 – 20,000 miles than it will from, say, 80,000 – 100,000 miles.
What information do I need for a car valuation?
If you’re using an online service like the one on motorway.co.uk to get your valuation then the info you need to get a car valuation is minimal.
All you’ll need to get a valuation is your car’s registration number, mileage and some personal info including your full name, email address and mobile number – and based on the results of a survey carried out by Motorway earlier this year, getting a valuation could add up to £1000 to the final sale price of your car.
How to improve your car’s value
There are a number of surefire ways to get a bit more cash for your car, and some are as simple as cleaning and waxing it — unsurprisingly, people are more likely to splash out for a sparkling car than one covered in fingerprints and drive-thru.
It’s also worth getting any minor dents and scrapes repaired, and getting your service and MOT done as close to selling your car as possible.
Keep ahold of the documents associated with your car: especially your V5C (logbook), service and MOT history, and insurance documents.
The time of year you sell could also affect the price you get — people are more likely to shop for a car in the warmer months of the year, meaning there’s more demand.
How accurate is a car valuation?
At the end of the day, it’s important to remember that online car valuations are estimates, and aren’t a 100% accurate representation of your car’s worth.
But, for newer cars especially, they do provide a realistic guide to a vehicle’s resale value. If you’re completely unsure of a ballpark price for your car, then an online car valuation will help you on your way.
Remember to enter as much detail about your car as possible, from the exact year or generation it’s from, to the condition and up to date stats including mileage, as this will give you the most accurate evaluation.
Will modifications to my car affect its value?
You might think you’re adding value to your pride and joy by blessing it with some new alloys, but chances are you’re only lowering the price you’ll get back for it.
It depends on the car and the buyer, of course, but most modifications will negatively affect a car’s resale value.
Most buyers want originality, so if you’re planning on sprucing up your motor it’s worth ensuring those changes are reversible, so when you come to sell you can change it back to its original form.
Now that we’ve helped answer the question “how much is my car worth”, you might like to read about how to sell your car online.