Sell my car on AutoTrader: how to get the best price
Want to sell your car on AutoTrader? We explain how to get the best price, how much you'll pay in fees, and what the alternatives are.
AutoTrader is one of the UK’s best-known used car sites and offers drivers a range of options when it comes to selling your motor.
But is it the best option for you? And how do you maximise the amount you get from your sale?
Sell my car on AutoTrader: how it works
AutoTrader is one of the biggest names around when it comes to buying and selling cars, having started life as a magazine.
If you want to sell through AutoTrader, you have two different options.
The fastest and easiest is their ‘Instant Cash Offer’ service, which works rather like other speedy car-buying sites.
You enter the registration plate for your car, and some details about the car. These include:
- The mileage;
- The level of service history you have;
- The condition of the paint and bodywork;
- The condition of the wheels and tyres;
- The condition of the windscreen, mirrors, dash and interior.
Once all of this is completed, you’ll be provided with an initial quote.
You’ll then be contacted by AutoTrader to arrange an inspection of the car.
The good news is that they will come to you to carry this out.
At this point, AutoTrader’s representative will check over the car to ensure that it matches the description that you supplied.
You’ll then be provided with a final quote.
If you’re happy, you’ll be paid by bank transfer there and then, and the representative will take the car off your hands.
Alternatively, you can sell your car to another motorist through the AutoTrader listing service.
You create an advert for your vehicle, and then wait for interested parties to get in touch.
AutoTrader guides you through the building of your advert, which should include all of the important details about your vehicle like its mileage, the condition and any other important features.
It then is just a matter of waiting for interested buyers to get in touch.
You get to handle any viewings of the car and negotiate the final price.
How accurate is the AutoTrader valuation?
If you’re going with the ‘AutoTrader instant offer’ facility, then there is a danger that the final price you get will be different from the initial quote.
It all comes down to how the condition of your car in person varies from your description.
AutoTrader stress that, as long as your initial details are all accurate, then you will get the full quote.
It’s important to bear in mind here that with this feature, AutoTrader intend to sell the car on to another motorist.
As a result, the price they offer will always be less than they believe they can get another driver to pay for it. Ultimately you’re sacrificing some potential value for a guaranteed sale.
AutoTrader also offers a free car valuation tool, which can come in handy if you’re opting to handle the sale yourself through the site to another driver.
It brings together data from live adverts and dealer websites, as well as values from car auctions.
You don’t just get a single figure either ‒ the tool provides you with a part-exchange price, an instant offer and a private sale price, so you’re fully equipped to work out which route is best for you.
How can I get the best price when I sell my car on AutoTrader?
AutoTrader offer a host of tips that they believe will help you secure the highest possible price when selling through the platform.
Take great photos
Obviously sharing photos of the vehicle plays an enormous part in your chances of selling your vehicle, but it’s not just a question of taking a lot of pictures ‒ they need to be good ones.
According to AutoTrader, taking good quality photos can have a huge impact ‒ adverts with good quality pictures sell three times faster, apparently.
Presentation is key
Pay as much attention to cleaning the interior as the exterior for those photos.
As they point out, you need to imagine you’re giving someone a virtual tour of the car, so show it all off!
Get to the point
Pictures alone won’t do the job, however.
How you write your advert is also incredibly important, and AutoTrader say it’s vital to keep the advert snappy.
That means keeping the description of your vehicle short and simple, as well as highlighting any optional extras that will help it stand out from similar cars.
What’s more, it’s a good idea to mention if you have the full service history of the car.
Tell the truth
There is not much point in hoping that a potential buyer won’t notice any imperfections in your vehicle.
All that is likely to happen is that those issues will cause them to walk away from a deal, meaning that you’ve both had your time wasted.
Instead, AutoTrader argues that it’s crucial that you are honest about any potential blemishes from the get-go.
That means that potential buyers won’t be met with any surprises, and will have less room to try to negotiate down the price as well.
Know what your car is worth
Setting the right price point is a big factor when it comes to selling a car.
AutoTrader says that the used car market is so hot at the moment, that the average price of a used car was up by 30% in December on the same point a year ago, so it’s really important that you have a good idea of the current market value of your vehicle before putting your advert live.
Sell my car on AutoTrader: what fees will I have to pay?
There are various different advertising tiers if you decide to list your car for sale on AutoTrader, and the cost varies based on which package you go for.
A basic package means that your listing is live on the AutoTrader site for two weeks, and you can show off your car with up to 20 photos. It costs £36.95.
Above that is the standard package, where your listing runs for three weeks.
Alongside those 20 pictures, you also get to promote your car more, meaning it appears in the top tier of search. This package will set you back £46.95.
Paying £58.95 will secure you the premium package, which as well as the above includes the opportunity to show off your car in a YouTube video. This package runs for six weeks.
Finally, there is the ultimate package, which runs until the car is sold.
AutoTrader claims that this is the best-performing package, and you can rebook for free too.
The ultimate package will set you back £74.95.
As well as all of the above, you enjoy a ‘search advantage mechanism’ which according to AutoTrader means that the higher the quality of your advert, the higher it will appear in searches.
If you go with the ‘Instant Offer’ feature, then there is no fee to pay at all.
AutoTrader alternatives and competitors: where can I sell my car for the most money?
There’s no shortage of options when it comes to selling your car, so it’s worth reviewing how AutoTrader compares to other firms.
If you want to sell your motor quickly, there is a range of other websites that will allow you to do that.
With all of these sites, it’s worth remembering that the car will be sold on to another motorist, so the price you get for the sale will never be the absolute maximum you could potentially raise, though this is offset by the speed of the sale.
We’ve listed the main players directly below.
Top options if you want to sell your car quickly
If you are happy handling the sale yourself, then AutoTrader is not the only option.
You can instead list your property for sale on the following sites.
Autotrader rivals: I want to sell my car myself
Sell my car on AutoTrader: collection rules
This all comes down to the sales route you opt for.
If you go for the Instant Offer feature, then yes, someone from AutoTrader will collect the car from you.
In fact, they will take the car off your hands once they have completed the inspection.
If you’re selling directly to another motorist through AutoTrader, then it all comes down to the deal you negotiate.
Some buyers will happily take the car from you, while others might prefer for you to drop it off with them. If you want them to collect, you will have to insist on that as part of the deal.
AutoTrader Trustpilot rating: excellent
Before you sell your car to anyone, you want to have a good idea of how others found the experience.
And a sensible place to start is with the Trustpilot website, which allows people to review the various businesses they have used.
This includes firms that help with the selling of cars, and AutoTrader has had no shortage of reviews on Trustpilot, racking up a whopping 85,000 reviews at the time of writing.
Encouragingly, they are generally very positive too, with AutoTrader earning an average score of 4.7 out of 5. That’s good enough to be classed as ‘excellent’.
Positive reviews frequently flag up how easy it is to use to sell a car, as well as how quickly the car has sold.
Obviously, just because other people have had a great time selling through AutoTrader doesn’t guarantee that you will.
However, it seems that more often than not car sellers are satisfied by the process, as well as the price they eventually got for their car.
Should I sell my car on AutoTrader? Our verdict
AutoTrader offers the best of both worlds when it comes to selling, as you can take the quick option of its Instant Offer facility or handle the sale yourself through its listing service.
If you simply want to sell your vehicle relatively stress-free, then the Instant Offer facility will appeal, particularly as they will even come and collect the car from your home.
Of course, it is important to bear in mind that taking this route means you will inevitably not get the best possible price for your vehicle, though you may feel that this trade-off is worth it for the sake of a quick and easy deal.
Alternatively, you can handle the entire sale yourself by listing the car on AutoTrader.
This gives you the best chance of getting the maximum amount possible for your vehicle, though how successful you are comes down to a host of different factors, such as how good the photos you take of your car are, how much your advert stands out from the crowd, and how in demand your car is.
Going with this option may potentially deliver the best price, but equally, there is no guarantee that you will find a buyer.
And even if you do find one, it may take a long time, necessitating the need to keep re-advertising.
The right choice for you will come down to how swiftly you want to conclude a sale, how determined you are to get the highest possible price, and how comfortable you are handling a negotiation.