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Getting the Best Price for Your Used Car

By: Scott McBride - Updated: 9 Aug 2010 | comments*Discuss
Getting The Best Price For Your Used Car

There is no law against advertising a used car for a ridiculously high price, but the chances of selling it are slim. Set the price too low and the car will be snapped up, but then the seller will rue missing out on the best price.

It is a balancing act, so to avoid disappointment and ensure a used car is priced as accurately as possible, a seller has to get a valuation. There are several ways to go about this, and there are pros and cons with each one.

Take the car to a dealer and, whether franchised or independent, the same industry price guides will be used to value the car. There may be slight differences in the prices offered by dealers, but this will depend more on how easy the individual dealer believes it will be to sell the car on. Nevertheless, all dealers will make an offer on the low side in order to resell the car at a profit.

Ask the Experts

Consider asking an independent specialist to give an unbiased opinion of the car’s condition and value. This will cost money, and is more often a tactic employed by buyers to ensure a used car is worth the asking price, but an independent inspection can give a seller an indication of what work has to be carried out to make the car more attractive to buyers and will help achieve the best price possible.

A quick scan of the classified advertisements will give a seller a good idea of a car’s worth. Find the same make and model of a similar age, condition and mileage to find out what other sellers consider a fair price. For a quick sale, price a car a little lower than the competition, as the best buy will sell first.

Buyers’ guides for sale in newsagents or available online calculate a car’s worth using the same trade guides that dealers use. Valuations given will vary according to the age, condition and mileage of the car and although the price will be a good estimate, sellers should still check what prices similar cars are achieving in their area.

These guides tend to give four different valuations for the same used car, based on whether the car will be traded in, sold to a dealer, taken to auction or sold privately.

  • The trade-in price is what a dealer will offer if the seller is going to buy his new car from that dealer. Remember the dealer will want to make a profit on the car, so the valuation will reflect this.
  • The dealer price is what a dealer will expect to sell a used car for on the forecourt. This price will usually include a warranty and remember too that buying from a dealer gives a greater deal of legal protection if there turns out to be problem with the car.
  • The auction price will be the lowest, as most buyers at auction are in the motor trade and will not pay over the odds. It is an easy and quick way to sell a used car, but is unlikely to achieve the best price.
  • The private sale price is the one most sellers will use as a guide. It tends to be lower than the price demanded by dealers and buyers searching for the best used car deal will know this. Still, sellers will get more through a private sale than through a trade-in.

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