Dealer vs Private – How Should You Sell Your Car?

Posted on 6 June, 2018 4:37:37

There comes a time for many drivers when they decide to sell or upgrade their car. Whether your goal is to buy a newer model, something more family friendly or to fund a European holiday – you’ll be looking to sell for the best price, or perhaps in the quickest time possible and least hassle. No matter if you choose a traditional trade-in with the car dealership or used car business or to sell your vehicle privately, there are certainly pros and cons. With the proliferation of online car sale listings and auctions there is lots of food for thought on the best way to move your car onto its new owner. So how do you decide which way is best for you? We look at the key considerations to help you decide.


It’s true that you will be likely to fetch a better price for your car if you sell privately compared to trading-in or selling to your local dealer. When you put a car up for sale privately, you will generally organise a Roadworthy Certificate along with any repairs or work that is necessary to bring it up to roadworthy status. When you pass your car over to the dealer they usually take care of all of the repairs and administration, and this extra work on their part is normally reflected in the price they will offer to you. They will then go on to sell the car at a profit to them, pocketing the difference between what they paid you and the price the new owner has negotiated. Depending on the age of your car and the dealer’s interest in onselling your ex-pride and joy, offers can be hundreds to thousands of dollars less than what you might make through a private sale. It’s always advisable to arrive at the dealership with your car looking like it just rolled out of the showroom, after a wash and detail, to improve your chances of being offered the best price.


Selling to a dealership or used car business is usually a reasonably quick process; a phone call, a quick negotiation, a visit to drop off the car and an exchange of payment (or a discount off your new car) is usually all that’s involved before your handing your keys over. When you sell privately, on the other hand, you generally need to organise repairs and Roadworthy Certificate, make sure the car is regularly washed and gleaming, take photos, write a description, decide on the asking price and set up an ad or an auction. Then, unless you hit the jackpot and find a unicorn buyer, you may end up fielding calls, texts or emails and deal with people who turn up to ‘tyre kick’ – or not show up at all – before finally finding someone that seals the deal. This process can take weeks, or even months, and although you can look to outsource some elements – like washing your car and even taking photos – the costs and drain on your time can add up quickly. The silver lining is that if you’ve priced your car fairly – you’re likely to get a better price in the long-run than selling to a dealer, as long as you don’t get sick of the leg-work and sell for peanuts.


When you decide to sell your car privately, it’s important to consider that you will have strangers turning up to test drive your car, which involves some risk. It’s advisable to check that your insurance policy will cover you in case of an accident while your potential buyer is driving. You might like to take a photo or note down the driver’s licence details and agree on a suitable route and duration for the test drive. You should also be savvy and watch out for potential scams, red flags are things like elaborate stories, requests to transport vehicles or asking you to incur costs that will be reimbursed later. When you sell through to a reputable dealership or used car business, generally the only risk that you may face is that don’t get what you consider to be a fair price for your car, though you should be clear on the terms of sale and how you will receive payment before signing any paperwork.

Topics:   Car Resale

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