Should I part exchange my car?

    Part exchanging has traditionally been seen as one of the easiest ways to sell your car. Trading it in at a dealership in exchange for a discount on your next car requires very little effort or admin on your part. Depending on the particulars of your deal, you can even drive to the dealership in your existing car and drive back home in a new model. 

    Most dealerships offer part exchange with broadly the same terms. It can be combined with various financing deals, and is especially popular at manufacturer-specific dealerships, like VW, Audi, Land Rover and BMW, who often encourage their customers to trade in their cars for a newer model. 

    If you’re deciding whether part exchanging is the right option for you, we have some tips to help you make the best decision.

    Selling your car in the same transaction as buying your next one makes part exchange an appealing option to many car owners.

    What’s the part exchange value of my car?

    You’re unlikely to get your car’s full value when you part exchange. It’s the major drawback of trading in your car — you’re rarely in any position to negotiate your discount with the dealer. They’ll usually offer low on your old model, and take further cuts from the price that may not seem transparent. Often, it’s because they’re not looking to directly sell your old car on their own forecourt — they’ll in fact try to sell it at auction and make as much profit as possible.

    Essentially, you’re paying for the privilege of not having to take on the work of selling your car outright. When you sell your car this way, it’s a buyer’s market.

    Is there a good time to part exchange?

    Timing can definitely factor into the offer dealers will make you to part exchange your car. And, unfortunately for you, they have the upper hand in anticipating the factors that can increase or decrease the value of your car for part exchange.

    Timing: the market

    For one thing, dealers know much more than you about the seasonality of their business. Whether they’ll sell your car to their customers, or place it in an auction, they have the numbers on whether the used car market is trending up or down. They know when it’s the right time for them to buy low, versus buy high. It’s extremely difficult for customers to anticipate the market and choose an optimal time to part exchange.

    Timing: the model

    Additionally, if you’re not up to date with the latest model of your current car, you might not realise that yours has become a ‘runout’. Or, that the model you’re looking to trade your current car in for is itself a runout, and therefore worth less than you think. 

    A car becomes a runout when the manufacturer announces the imminent release of its latest, upgraded model. Immediately, any stock of the previous model gets relegated to an older generation, and will sell much cheaper. 

    Additionally, cars are all graded based on the European Emissions Ratings. Depending on where you live, and planned local low emissions zones, it’s worth checking what your car’s rating is. The ratings can be in line with age, but that’s not a hard and fast rule. If you think your area might soon adopt a low emissions zone, and your rating won’t be compliant, you should swap your car in good time. If you choose to part exchange, make sure the new model you’re trading in for will be compliant with any zoning rules.

    When you stay informed about car model upgrades and emissions ratings, it makes it easier to avoid bad timing based on your car model.

    Timing: your car’s value

    The timing factor you have the most control over is choosing the right time to sell your car based on its value, which changes over time. All makes and models depreciate at different rates. The most basic equation for checking your car’s value is thinking about its age and mileage

    People often say that cars on average depreciate by 20% of their initial value every 20,000 miles. Please note that 20,000 miles per year is a little above average annual mileage in the UK and might represent two or more years’ worth of motoring for some drivers. 

    It’s worth getting a free valuation of your car and checking it regularly, to choose a good time to get the most value out of your car. 

    Knowing your cars value and the current used car market is the best way to get the best return when you sell or part exchange.

    Can you part exchange for a cheaper car?

    With the cost of living crisis biting, some car owners are wondering if they can downsize their cars for models that are cheaper to purchase and run. In theory, a dealership may let you part exchange your car for a less expensive one. However, it’s less likely that they’ll agree to a deal where you get the difference as cash. 

    If you’re looking to trade in your car for a cheaper one, it will work out in your favour to conduct the sale separately from the purchase, even if both transactions are at the same dealership. It means a little more work for you, but it’s a much better way of getting your money’s worth. When you sell your car the Motorway way, more than 5,000 dealers compete to give you their best price.

    How can I get the best part exchange deal?

    To get the best part exchange deal, you should go to the lengths of car preparation that you’d go to if you were selling outright. This means a thorough cleaning inside and out, and making any necessary repairs. 

    For a quick transaction, it’s helpful to have all your necessary motoring and car ownership documents ready: MOT, V5C logbook, a finance settlement letter, etc. You should come prepared with the knowledge of what your car would be worth if you were selling. You should also research what you need to get from your next car and consider such factors as range, spec, and emissions rating.

    All that said, you will probably still get a better deal by selling your car. 

    There are many things you can do to get your best part exchange deal. However, it is unlikely to ever get you a better price than if you sold your car.

    Should I trade in my car or sell it?

    When it’s time for a new car, there are two major factors to think about: getting a great price, and having a convenient and easy experience. While part exchange is known as a speedy and easy option, there is a way to sell your car just as easily (if not easier) and for the best price.

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

    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.

    Motorway is a convenient and great value option for selling your car.

    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.