Part exchange my car UK: our guide highlights your 2 best options
Not sure whether to part exchange your car or try get a better sale price elsewhere? Our 'part exchange my car' guide explains all.
For most people, a big part of buying a new car is selling their old one.
If you’re in this position, you have many different options available to you, from handling the whole thing yourself to selling it online through a car-buying website.
But one of the most common ways of selling is to simply part-exchange a car when buying a new one.
There are plenty of pros and cons to be aware of when opting to part ex, however.
Let’s start with the reasons why part exchanging is a good idea.
Why should I part exchange my car?
The big benefit of part-exchanging your used car is that it’s the easiest option.
All you have to do is find the new car you want to buy.
The dealer will usually offer some form of part exchange, where you knock some pounds off the purchase price for that new motor by trading in your current car.
You don’t have to create a listing to sell your car, organise visits from prospective buyers or haggle over price with them.
What’s more, the part exchange will generally take place on the same day that you pick up the new motor, meaning there is no gap or overlap.
You won’t have to make do for a couple of days without a motor if you sell your existing car and have to wait to purchase your new one.
Similarly, there’s no overlap period where you have to find space to park two cars at your home before you complete the sale of your old motor.
You also won’t have to negotiate a price with a prospective buyer of your car – something that many people don’t feel comfortable doing.
In essence, part-exchanging can be an attractive option because it’s quick and simple.
There’s very little work involved on your part, and it’s all handled within a very short timeframe.
Man holding car keys (Image: Jay Lamping from Pixabay)
Why shouldn’t I part exchange my car?
However, the simplicity offered through part-exchanging a car does come at a price, quite literally.
If you’re looking to get the best price for your old car, part exchange is probably the worst option you can choose.
Firstly, bear in mind that the dealer is a business, and so will want to get something back from your old motor.
That means selling it on to someone else for more than they paid for it.
As a result, part-exchanging always means that you’ll be accepting less than it’s really worth.
Dealers can – and often do – milk this situation, knowing that you already have your heart set on the new motor.
Because you are effectively committed, some dealers will offer the bare minimum for a part exchange, since they don’t believe it’s very likely that you’ll actually walk away from the deal.
This is particularly true if they think that selling your old car is going to be a hassle.
If it’s not something they would normally sell, then they will need to find another dealer to take it off their hands, and this additional work could result in them undercutting the amount they will give you for your used car further still.
What’s more, part-exchanging can mean even more negotiating than you feel comfortable with.
After all, you might find that you not only have to haggle over the price of the new car but also over what you think is an acceptable price for the vehicle you’re part-exchanging.
Part exchange my car alternative #1: selling direct
Clearly, part-exchanging is not going to be a great option for everyone. So what are the alternatives?
If you’re determined to get the highest possible sum for your car, then you will need to sell it directly to another driver.
You will be responsible for building the best possible listing, including the photos that paint the vehicle in the best light.
It will then be up to you to handle all of the negotiations with interested buyers, which could include setting time aside for them to see the car in person or take it for a test drive.
While this might secure you the highest sum, there’s no escaping the fact that it’s going to involve a lot of work.
It can also be a protracted experience, while you wait to drum up interest from the right buyer.
This delay can then have a knock-on effect on your ability to secure the new car that you’re planning to buy.
Part exchange my car alternative #2: car-buying sites
Another option is to make use of a car-buying website.
Car-buying sites have become more popular with those selling a car because they offer the simplicity of a part exchange, but with the ability to make more money for your vehicle.
The sites act as middlemen, connecting you with dealerships across the country.
The dealers effectively bid for your old car, based on the details and photos you share, and then you can pick the price you’re happy to accept.
Obviously, it’s important to remember that you’ll never get the absolute maximum price by going down this route.
The dealers will want to sell the cars on again for a profit, after all.
However, the fact that they don’t view you as being ‘committed’ to dealing with them, as might be the case with a part exchange, means you will get a better price as does the competition from other deals.
After all, if they bid too little, they won’t be able to secure your motor.
The simplicity offered by a car-buying website is a big appeal too.
There’s no need to worry about waiting weeks for potential buyers to see your advert.
Instead, you have effectively a guaranteed sale within just a few days.
What’s more, some car-buying sites will come and pick up the vehicle from your home so you don’t even need to worry about heading off to a dealership to drop it off.
It’s important to do your homework on the fees involved with the car-buying site you’re considering using, as well as how set in stone the price you’re being offered is.
Some dealers will want to see the car in person, to ensure there aren’t any hidden issues, before committing to a final price, for example.
However, car-buying sites offer the simplicity and ease of part-exchanging your car, but with the promise of a higher price, making them an attractive proposition worth considering for anyone looking to sell their old motor.
Want to learn more? Below is a list of all the main car-buying sites, including a link to our review of each plus a direct link to their site so you can get a quote.