Auto Trader alternatives – the ultimate guide

    Note: Auto Trader is not a commercial partner of Motorway. The information provided in the article below is correct as at 18th November, 2022.

    Auto Trader started out as a printed magazine available in newsagents from the late 1970s. The magazines were localised by region and their main content was used car classifieds from – and for – private individuals.

    It has now developed into the dominant online marketplace in the UK’s used car market with a massive 11.2 million unique site visitors each month, incorporating trade business with the consumer listings that originally built the brand.

    Auto Trader has developed into a much bigger service than its origins as a classifieds magazine for used cars.

    Despite Auto Trader’s dominance in the used car market, there are plenty of other options when it comes to selling your car. Depending on your priorities, you may find that an alternative to Auto Trader suits your needs better.

    Read on to learn more about how Auto Trader works, and how it compares to other methods of selling your car:

    When you’re ready to sell your car, it’s worth researching all the possible options, so you don’t lose out on time or money.

    How to use Auto Trader

    When you access the Auto Trader homepage, you are given options to look for a new or used car, sell your car, or value your car. There are also links for car reviews, car leasing, and learning more about electric vehicles (EVs). 

    To sell your car on Auto Trader, you need to create an advert to list to either private buyers or trade buyers (car dealers). You’ll need nice photos of your car, as well as all the important and compelling information to hand that buyers will want to know. 

    Auto Trader has a business-to-business dealership portal, as well as car listings for private individuals to browse and purchase. By moving a large portion of used car sales online, they’re cutting out the need for people to drive to dealerships and get competing offers to sell their cars. 

    How it works

    When you go to create your ad, Auto Trader will use your reg and mileage to find your car’s details and auto-populate information such as the car class, door and seat number, engine size, transmission and fuel type, and owner history (e.g. ‘seven owners’). 

    You’ll see that some vehicle features may also have been filled in, but you can add and remove these as appropriate. It’s worth adding in as much detail on features as possible so buyers can get a sense of your car’s spec and driving experience.

    Auto Trader will also automatically run some basic vehicle checks, using data from the Motor Insurance Anti-Fraud and Theft Register, and Experian. This confirms whether your vehicle has been registered as a category write-off, stolen, scrapped, imported, or exported. 

    It’s up to you to add in your photos and write a description for your car. As Auto Trader prompts, a detailed description in your ad will help your car sell quicker. It’s also up to you to set the price. 

    Many online services now offer instant valuations, and Auto Trader does too. You can get one, or a few, valuations and come up with a price you think you can sell your car for. Finally, you can include a YouTube link in a premium or ultimate package advert. A short video with clips of your car from different angles can help a lot, especially if the model is less well-known, or if you want to show off your car’s excellent condition. 

    Once you’ve filled out all the fields of the advert, you can proceed and choose which ad package to purchase. 

    Admin fees and payments

    All adverts on Auto Trader are paid, unless you’re privately selling a car valued under £1,000, which is free to list for one week. 

    There’s a sliding scale of pricing, depending on whether you’re based in Northern Ireland or Great Britain, whether you’re selling to trade or privately, and what the value of your vehicle is. In all cases, there are four ad packages available: Basic, Standard, Extended, and Ultimate. 

    These packages largely affect the length of time that your ad will be live on Auto Trader, and when you’re selling privately, the packages can also affect how detailed your ad can be, and how much it’s promoted within the classifieds. 

    Since Auto Trader has a huge number of listings at any given time, you might worry that your car will be a needle in the haystack and fail to attract much attention. This is the incentive to spend more on the ad package so you can make the most of all of Auto Trader’s features, and keep the ad live until the car sells. 

    It’s worth browsing the various packages to see what might offer you the best return on investment, and help your car stand out from the crowd. 

    How to sell your car on other free listing sites

    Auto Trader is an enormous private online marketplace for selling your car. However, if you want to sell your car privately, it’s far from the only option to list your car for sale.

    Other online classified sites like Facebook Marketplace, eBay, Gumtree, Shpock, and offer alternative ways to bypass any middlemen and help connect private buyers and sellers. 

    You might not reach the same volume of keen buyers this way, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re less likely to sell your car for a decent price. In fact, selling within a smaller network might appeal to you more.

    When selling your car privately, there are plenty of free online listings sites you can use to find buyers.

    There are several main drawbacks as a private seller, no matter what company you sell through. There’s no guarantee you’ll find the right buyer, or get a good deal. There’s also a low, but nonetheless worrisome, risk of being scammed by an unfamiliar buyer

    Especially when you’re finding your buyer through online, nationwide networks, it’s up to you to make sure you feel comfortable sharing information and inviting buyers to view and test drive your car. 

    Finally, you’ll have to decide on a safe way to manage payment, and it will be your responsibility to transfer car ownership, otherwise, both you and the buyer could be vulnerable to fines. 

    The process of finding a buyer privately, either on Auto Trader or elsewhere, can therefore be lengthy and frustrating, if you’re not lucky with finding motivated, trustworthy buyers.

    CompanyFee-free listingSafe, managed paymentHPI verificationBuyer collects in-personSale type
    Auto Trader✓*Classifieds & auction
    eBay Classifieds & auction
    Facebook Marketplace✓**Classifieds
    Shpock✓**Classifieds (selling through Gumtree)✓**Classifieds
    MotorwayCar buyer
    ^ The above-listed companies are not commercial partners of Motorway
    * only with Instant Offer
    ** only when you set your listing as ‘collection only’

    How it works

    To sell your car on eBay, Facebook Marketplace, Gumtree, and Shpock, you create your listing like you would for anything else. Add as much compelling information as you can, along with plenty of pictures and video if it’s supported. On most of these sites you can specify collection-only, or local delivery-only. 

    In these networks, only fellow site users can bid on or instantly purchase your goods. Some have additional seller and buyer protections – that is a major selling point for eBay, which is also the only site in this group to offer secure payment through their platform.

    When you sell on Facebook marketplace, Gumtree, and Shpock, you have to handle the negotiations and payment yourself. On eBay, your car listing has a minimum purchase price (like Motorway’s ‘reserve price’) to avoid any time-wasters who offer less than you’re willing to accept. 

    Admin fees and payments

    You can boost your listing on Facebook Marketplace by sponsoring the post. You’ll be able to slide a suggested budget up and down, and see how much reach this price will fetch for your post. 

    eBay is free to list on, and final sales value (including postage and other fees) is subject to a 12.8% fee, and a fixed charge of 30p per order. When the total value exceeds £2,500, you pay a 3% fee on the value over £2,500. 

    It’s free to sell your car on Gumtree, but boosting your advert might cost £5-£8 per week. Adverts expire after a certain period so if you don’t sell your car, you’ll have to re-list the ad.

    Instant online car-buying companies 

    Online car-buying companies (such as We Buy Any Car) have become some of the most popular Auto Trader alternatives. They promise to take the hassle and stress out of the process of selling your car by securing a quick, instant sale online.

    In fact, it can in some instances take less time for you to sell your car to an online buyer than it does to get an MOT at a local garage.

    There’s currently a lot of these companies out there, offering slightly different services – but, traditionally, instant car buyers offer a quick alternative to selling your car privately on a marketplace like Auto Trader. 

    You don’t have to place lengthy adverts, market the car yourself, or worry about showing your car to potential buyers who might waste your time.

    There are pros and cons to these businesses – some offer high prices, whilst others offer as little hassle as possible. However, you might find you can get a better price privately, or with another company.

    Read our complete guide for more information on the various admin fees and experience that can be expected from different instant online car buying companies.

    With We Buy Any Car, you drive to a hub to have your car inspected in-person.

    How it works

    Typically, you start the car-selling process with these businesses by entering your reg number and mileage on their website in order to receive an instant online valuation. If that valuation is to your liking, you can arrange an appointment for the buyer to inspect your car in person. 

    Here’s where it can become less ‘instant’ with some of the companies, depending on how quickly you can arrange for this inspection. Some might come to you, while other companies will need you to drop it off at a local branch.

    When your car gets inspected, you will often be asked to agree to a lower price to account for any wear and tear or damage.

    If you agree to a final price, the car-buying company will take your car and send you the funds. In the case of WeBuyAnyCar, you normally just leave your car at the inspection centre and make your way home another way. Some companies work similarly, while others will pick up your car from home or work as agreed.

    Admin fees and payments

    WeBuyAnyCar has a transaction fee that applies at the point of sale. It varies and is dictated by the final price you receive for your car. There are no fees for cars valued below £99.99. A transaction fee of £49.99 applies to cars valued at £100 to £3,999.99. A transaction fee of £59.99 applies to vehicles valued between £4,000.00 to £4,999.99. For cars priced at £5,000 or more, the transaction fee is £74.99.

    There are also fees if you want to receive your payment faster than the standard processing time of 4 working days. You can opt for ‘next working day’ for the price of £24.75, or £29.75 for a same-day payment service which takes a few hours to receive funds.

    WeWantAnyCar offers no administration charge for cars that sell for less than £100. For vehicles with a purchase price of over £100, the admin charge is £99. 

    Money4YourMotors has the same pricing: no fees for cars that sell under £100, and a £99 charge for all other cars sold. 

    The Car Buying Group offers £50 extra for your car if you drop it off at one of their centres.
    Meanwhile, when you sell your car with Motorway, dealers compete to give you their best price, and you don’t pay any fees or charges, and they’ll pick your car up from your home for free.

    How to sell your car to a dealership

    One of the more traditional ways of selling since the 1950s has been to go directly to a car dealer. There are two different kinds of dealerships: independent dealers (who will sell a range of car brands and types) and franchise dealers (who are specialised to a specific car brand).

    Auto Trader’s dealership portal also allows dealers to connect with both buyers and sellers – so you can sell your car to a dealer on Auto Trader.

    You can find top dealers on the Auto Trader website, or you can find a dealer directly.

    Dealers can buy your car outright, or you can get a part exchange against your next car. (For more on this, read on below.) 

    Before the internet, dealership branches were the go-to option for people looking to sell their cars with minimal fuss. People would drive their cars around to various appointments, looking for the best price.

    Before selling to a dealer, you should make sure that you have all the relevant information about your car ready at your disposal. This means your purchase history, service history, and everything that proves you’ve taken good care of your car. 

    You should also have recently valued your car and had it serviced, so you have an understanding of your car’s true worth and the shape it’s in. This will help you to assess the offers you get for your car, and give you better negotiating power.

    Speaking of negotiation; since a dealer will be looking to make a margin, you’re unlikely to get an offer as high as your car’s full valuation level. So you should bear in mind finding the right kind of dealer for your car. You can get a great price from a dealer if you’re selling a car they actually want to buy. There’s little point trying to sell a Land Rover to a MINI-franchised dealership, for example, or a nippy city car in a very rural region.

    All car dealers want to sell cars that retail at £10,000 or more for the most margin, so if your car is in good shape, and a highly desirable model in the used marketplace, you have a chance of getting a great price.

    How it works

    You can start by calling some local independent and manufacturer-specific dealerships in advance, to see if they seem interested in your car. With your valuation to hand and your car newly serviced, you’ll be ready to start shopping around.

    There are some prep steps we recommend for anyone selling their car, which particularly go a long way in securing a good deal from car dealers: 

    • You want to have had your MOT as recently as possible, no matter the age of your car.
    • If your car is nearly new, you may be able to get much more for it if you sell it before the next plate changes (these happen in March and September in the UK).
    • Repair chips and scratches before you go to dealerships, as it can cost you less than the money dealers may take off the price of your car.
    • Make sure to clean your car inside and outside
    • Sell soon after your MOT, and gather as much of your servicing history as possible. Proving the health of your car will give dealers confidence.

    For more maintenance tips, read our guide on keeping the value of your car as high as possible.

    When you drive to a dealer who makes an offer you’re happy to accept, you might even be able to sell the car then and there, and leave it behind. You’ll agree these details with your dealer, and they’ll make payment and advise on the administrative steps you need to take to transfer ownership.

    Admin fees and payments

    There shouldn’t be any fees or payments applicable when you sell your car to a dealership. You simply take payment by whatever means you and the dealership administrators agree on, and the sum will be as negotiated.

    How to part-exchange your car

    Another way to sell your car quickly to a dealership is to trade it in for a new (or, at least, new-to-you) car. 

    how to part exchange your car

    How it works

    It’s worth preparing your car in the same way you would if you were looking to sell it outright to a dealer. And, again, you can visit a few dealerships to shop around and see what kind of car you can get when you trade in your existing car.

    With part exchange, you pay the difference between the value you’re getting from your outgoing car, and the price of the new car. For example, a dealer might offer you to part-exchange your car against a £20,000 new car, giving you £10,000 off the price to cover the cost of your outgoing car.

    The competition is in seeing what favourable offers such as the above you can get from different dealers. 

    The difficulty is in comparing offers and deciding on what suits you: making your next car better value for money, or getting the most for your old car, or saving money by paying the least difference. 

    Admin fees and payments

    The payment you make when you part-exchange will be whatever difference there is to pay on the new (or new-to-you) car. If you’re part-exchanging as part of a PCP contract, the payments may look a little different. For more information, read our guide on part-exchanging a car on finance.

    Whatever the case, there shouldn’t be any confusing charges or fees beyond the vehicle prices you’re offsetting against each other.

    How to scrap your car

    Owners of older cars (usually at least 10 years old and/or high-mileage), write-offs, and other cars that are hard to sell: read on! Or read our ultimate guide to scrapping your car.

    Scrapping a car is typically unlikely to make you more than £500. However, this can vary. Additionally, if you know how to safely break down your car into parts and sell them individually, as well as selling the shell, you could fetch much more. 

    A compromise is possible: owners can remove and sell the highest-value parts, and offer the rest of the car to a scrap merchant. You’ll likely get a similar price for the shell as you would have for the complete car. The expensive parts worth selling separately are the engine, gearbox, airbags, and seats. The biggest marketplace to sell these parts is eBay. 

    At Motorway, we also work with a partner to provide a scrapping service. If you’re thinking about scrapping your car, enter your reg and mileage on our dedicated scrap my car page to be directed.

    You can sell very old cars as scrap quickly and easily, but the money you’ll get is very limited.

    How it works

    When you scrap your car, you can either find a private company offering this service, or you can find an authorised treatment facility (ATF) that will scrap your vehicle and pay you the scrap value — usually by cheque.

    Admin fees and payments

    Fees may vary but typically, when you scrap your car, you will be offered one sum that represents the scrap value minus any deductions. You can normally expect £100-£1,000 for your scrapped vehicle, the most common price being around £500. This value tends to be the same whether you’ve already removed and sold the high-value parts or not, so it pays to sell the engine, gearbox, airbags and seats separately.

    Selling your car the Motorway way

    When you sell your car the Motorway way, more than 5,000 dealers compete to give you their best price. You can sell your car to motivated buyers without even leaving the house. It’s completely free for you, and you can get a sale agreed in as little as 24 hours.

    We’ll give you all the necessary tips to profile your car while it’s looking its best and likely to fetch a great price. 

    Sell with Motorway and our network of more than 5,000 dealers compete to give you their best price.

    How it works

    Just enter your reg on the homepage and you will be provided with an instant estimated sale price based on up-to-the-minute market data. We’ll then ask you a few easy questions about your car and guide you through the photos you need to take to complete your vehicle profile. It can be done right from your phone – in a matter of minutes.

    If you choose to enter your car into a daily sale, it will be shown to our nationwide network of more than 5,000 verified dealers looking to add to their stock of used cars. Interested dealers will then compete to buy your car, offering you their best price.

    In as little as 24 hours you will receive your best offer – and, if you choose to go ahead with the sale, your car will be collected for free by the dealer and the money will be quickly and securely transferred to your bank account.

    Admin fees and payments

    We charge you, the car seller, absolutely nothing. You’ll receive payment in your nominated bank account once the dealer has collected your car. Yes way!

    Is it time to sell your car?

    Want to learn more about owning, maintaining, and selling your car? Check out more of our guides here, covering everything from finding buyers, to negotiating a good price, and completing payment safely.