Negotiating when selling your car

Whether you’re selling your car privately or to a dealer, the buyer is likely to want to haggle about the price. So don’t be caught off guard – read our negotiating tips below so you know the techniques to use to maximise your car’s value without losing the sale.

Get ready to haggle

Some people love to haggle, others hate it. But your buyer will expect some negotiation, so remember not to cave in at their first offer.

Even if haggling only gets you an extra £50 for your car, that’s could be the equivalent of what you’d earn for a few hours’ work.

Before going into any negotiation about price, make sure that you know the ‘market’ value of your car. You can find it out using car valuation sites such as CAP, Glass’s Guide, What Car? and Parkers. It’s also a good idea to check the asking prices of cars similar to yours in classified ads in local papers and on car selling sites such as Auto Trader and Gumtree.

Once you know the value of your car, you can build in a margin around it to allow for haggling. That way, you and the buyer close the deal happy.

Remember, what a car is worth is ultimately down to what someone is prepared to pay for it!

Negotiating price when selling privately

To help you negotiate successfully with private buyers, follow these basic tips:

  • Build urgency from the moment potential buyers start to contact you. Let them know that other people are interested and you have other viewings scheduled.
  • Do your best to be flexible – give the buyer the impression that you are offering them an early viewing.
  • Before a viewing, plan how you’ll respond when the buyer tries to lower your price.
  • Be honest about any damage to the car, but don’t point out faults.
  • Be firm about the price, but not unreasonable. Have a bottom price in mind when you advertise the car, but don’t tell your buyer what it is!
  • Unless you’re in a hurry to sell your car, don’t be afraid to turn down offers.
  • Don’t get offended if someone makes a ridiculous offer – explain how you arrived at your price.
  • If your buyer says “I like the car, but…”, and then there’s silence, counter this by asking: “How much would you be willing to pay?”
  • If your buyer says “What’s your best price?”, don’t be too eager to reduce your price.
  • Don’t allow yourself to be intimidated by the buyer or a mechanic. Drop the price if they identify reasonable problems, but walk away if you think you think that they are ‘trying it on’.

Negotiating price when selling to a dealer

Selling your car to a dealer will save you time and effort because you don’t have to advertise your car or meet buyers, but you’ll get less money than through a private sale.

There will also be less scope for haggling, because the dealer will want to stick to your car’s trade value. (You can find out your car’s trade value using one of the valuation sites shown above.)

You may have more chance of being able to negotiate over price if you’re part-exchanging your car for one of the dealer’s new or used cars.

If your car is in good condition, has a full service history and recently-renewed MOT, emphasise all these points after the dealer has made an opening offer. This applies whether you’re selling your car to them outright or through part-exchange.

Is your car reaching the end of its life? Find out How to dispose of an old car.

Your next step

How to find the right car for your budget