How to get the best price for my car

There are all sorts of aspects to consider when it comes to selling your car. Are you hoping to sell it as fast as possible? For as much as possible? Or just as stress-free as can be? Often, it can feel like you have to pick a priority and compromise on the rest. 

With Motorway, we’ve perfectly balanced convenience, speed, and price. You can get the best offer for your car in no time at all. All from the comfort of your own home. How do we do this?

  • Start with a free and instant valuation for your car
  • Build a car profile right from your phone
  • Your car enters a daily sale in front of our network of 3,000+ verified dealers
  • We present you with your best offer
  • Your car is collected for free from your home
  • You’ll be paid the same day as collection, the money usually appears in your account the same day

Sounds good, no? So, now convenience and speed are sorted, let’s take a closer look at price…

What affects the price you get for your used car?

A range of factors can impact the price of your car, some of them more in your control than others. The best price for your car can change at any time for any number of reasons, but here are the most common:

Mileage

Precisely how far your car has driven can also affect car value. Naturally, a car that’s got 50,000+ miles on the clock will be worth less than a car with a mere 5,000. Most people won’t particularly want to buy a car that’s been put through its paces.

Condition

Unsurprisingly, a car that’s been well looked after will get a better price than one that has been neglected. If you wash your car often, get it serviced when needed, and generally keep it at its best, this should all be rewarded when it comes to valuations. 

Don’t worry if your car’s condition, despite your best efforts, isn’t 100% perfect. No experienced car dealer (like the 3,000+ we work with) is expecting a used car to be flawless. A scratch here or there are easy to fix. It’s the serious issues that have been ignored for some time that will likely cost you in terms of the sale price. 

History

A car with a long service history isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The important thing is that you can prove it. Without the documentation to back up your service history, a dealer is essentially forced to buy blind, so to negate the risks, they’ll offer a lower price. 

Plates

Plate changes can impact the value of your car, and they occur twice a year, once in March and again in September. Plates reflect the age of your car, so with the release of every new plate, older ones tend to lose value.

Private plates are also something you should make dealers aware of. A dealer will still be happy to buy your car with a personalised plate, but you may find it more lucrative to sell the plate separately. To keep the plate, but sell your car, you’ll have to write to the DVLA to transfer the plate to another vehicle or get a retention certificate.

Even the weather can impact your car value — no one wants a convertible in the winter!

Demand

You could have the best-looking, most well-cared-for used car around, but if demand isn’t there, then your valuation may be disappointing. On the other hand, if demand is high, then you may be very pleasantly surprised by the value your car can get. 

2021 is a prime example of this, with used cars reaching record highs causing car valuations to skyrocket. If there seems to be demand for your car then it’s always good to act sooner rather than later to get the best deal.

Location

Precisely where you are trying to sell your car can also affect how much it can make. This can be based on simple logic i.e. a Smart car is probably going to be more in demand in urban environments than in the countryside. But it can also be based on new developments in your local area. One example of this is the ULEZ or Birmingham CAZ, which both placed extra pressure on owners of high CO2 emission vehicles. So, in London, sales of cars that don’t meet Euro 6 standards are likely to dwindle, while zero-emission vehicles would be more in demand.  

Colour and other additions

While colour doesn’t have any effect on how well your car can run, a bright orange car may have issues selling compared to a nice, neutral grey. The same goes for any after-sale additions you may have made like colourful rims or if your car is a particularly unique model. If you have extensively personalised your car, then you might have better luck looking for a private buyer — one with just as much enthusiasm for bright colours as you.

getting the best price for your used car
Super colourful or classic cars might get a better price from private buyers.

Getting the best price for you car: other things to consider 

Beyond the features of your car and you drive it, keep the following in mind. These might also prevent you from getting the very best price on your car:

Fees

There can be fees to selling your car, including collection fees, transaction fees, and other admin charges. Make sure you read through all the small print fully before you commit to anything. Motorway is completely free to use, we never hit you with surprise charges.

Fees could also apply for administrative tasks, like posting an initial “for sale” advert online or in a local newspaper.

Understand your buyer

An online valuation can be a great place to start when it comes to knowing what to expect for your car, but they aren’t guaranteed. If you are selling to a private buyer, then you’ll need to be open to negotiation, and you might need to throw in something to sweeten the deal, like a full tank of petrol.

If you’re selling to a dealer, then you have to remember that dealers will always have one eye on resale value. So, they won’t be looking to pay over the odds for your car. This can be frustrating, especially if you’ve clocked up a fuel bill driving around for a good price. 

Consider when you sell

Sometimes, things like season can impact your best price. If you’re selling a convertible, for example, it will probably attract a lot more interest in the spring and summer months than in the heart of winter.

Similarly, Christmas might not be the best time to look for a buyer. Some smaller dealers may close, and private buyers might have too many other expenses to think about buying a car.

Ready to sell?

Our handy guides have everything you need to know about selling your car:

Car depreciation — the ultimate guide
Top 10 tips to sell your car
Should you sell your diesel car?
How much is your car worth?
Van valuation — the ultimate guide
Should I sell my hybrid car?
Top 5 ways to sell a car
Companies that buy cars
How to part exchange your car
How to sell a car for parts
WeBuyAnyCar alternatives
Should I sell my petrol car?