Part ex or private sale?

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When it comes to trading in your old motor for something new, you’ve got two options: sell it privately or part-exchange it against your next set of wheels. But which is best? There are pros and cons to each option, and picking one often depends on the condition of the vehicle you’re selling. If you’re trying to decide what you should do with your old car, here’s a look at the arguments for and against private sale and part exchange.

Part exchange

Part exchange definitely involves a lot less effort than selling your car privately. You simply agree on a price for it with the dealer and hand over the keys, knocking the part exchange value off the price of the new car. The problem is, dealers might try to woo you with particularly generous part-exchange offers – but the windshield price of the new car is inflated anyway, so you won’t really be getting what they’re offering. As an example, I part-exed my first car, a clapped-out, rusty old Ford KA some 12 months after buying it. I was offered £1,000 for it if I part exchanged it against a 2003 Vauxhall Corsa, which was priced at around £4,500. Having only bought the Ford for around £1,200, I was fairly gobsmacked at the offer.

The thing is, the KA was probably only worth about £600 in real terms, but then the Corsa was probably overpriced by at least £500 – so the deal wasn’t quite as sweet as it sounded. Still, it was straightforward. I didn’t have to go through the process of advertising and haggling with potential buyers over the price. I’ve an inkling I’d be just as poor a haggler in the position of seller as I am a buyer. Unlike private sales, where you might pay to list your car on a website or in a local paper, part-exchange won’t cost you anything.

You also won’t need to spend time and money making the car look its best to impress potential buyers, as a dealer will want to valet it before putting it on the forecourt anyway. And finally, there’s an element of safety and security to part-exchange that you won’t necessarily get from a private sale. If you’re sensible and careful (more on that later), private sales are perfectly safe – but there’s always the chance you could encounter someone looking to rip you off. When you part exchange, however, you’ll be dealing with an established, legally-regulated business, which means you’re less likely to be taken for a ride.

Private sale

When you find a buyer for a private sale and agree on a price, you know that the amount you agree on is exactly what you’ll get and isn’t a clever sales technique used to get you to buy another vehicle with an inflated price. You could get a better price for your car from a private sale, because the buyer isn’t thinking about targets, budgets and showroom overheads which might put a ceiling on how much they’re able to give you. Also, advertising your car for private sale on a site like Auto Trader puts it in front of hundreds and even thousands of potential buyers around the clock, saving you the time and trouble of taking it from garage to garage comparing part-ex prices.

Finally, you can take your time selling your vehicle and won’t be pressured into selling by someone who makes their living buying and selling cars. You can arrange viewings as and when you please and only sell when you’re happy with the deal. There are some precautions you must take when selling to the general public though, as the Citizens Advice Bureau outlines here.

Which is best?

If you’re selling a car it’s worth looking at both options to see which will pay more. You can look for private sale cars that closely match yours on Auto Trader to see what the going rate is before taking it to dealerships to see what they’re offering for part ex. Part ex is probably the easier option, and it’s free, but you may get less for your car than you would for a private sale. You may have to pay to advertise it for private sale, but you can always recoup those costs by marking up the vehicle slightly – or you could use free advertising services such as Gumtree. If you want a quick sale and peace of mind, part ex may be your best bet – but if you want the best possible price, it’s worth at least scoping out private sale first.

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