Selling your car without getting stung

And how you can get ahead in the part-exchange game

Gleaming in the showroom is the new car of your dreams. Parked outside is your old nightmare of a motor. In order to afford the new car you must sell the old one. Of course, the car salesman is all too willing to help out by inviting you to do a part exchange. That sounds like a sensible and simple solution to your problem, but have you ever stopped to consider what's in it for them? There really is more to the part-exchange game than just swapping old for new.

A car dealer only offers the trade value, nothing more, and sometimes less. This is effectively the wholesale price for a particular model. Adjustments are made for condition, age and mileage and there will be furtive glances into the car trade price bibles (Glass's Guide and CAP Black Book) to confirm that figure. However, that is rarely the amount which will be offered. In order to strike a deal on the spot a salesman uses the profit on the new car to inflate the trade-in value of the old car. But the customer loses out, because negotiating a discount on the new car is not on.

You can win at the part exchange game, though, by doing a little research and uttering the magic words "price to change". All you need to discover is the lowest retail price of the new car and the real trade value of the part exchange, the difference between the two is the price you want to pay. Firstly, buy a price guide from your newsagent, these are small format magazines (such as Parker's) which are the public's equivalent of the trade guides and accurate enough. It will reveal how much your car is worth to the car trade. To double check this figure and for a local perspective, ring up some car dealers and offer to sell them your car and see what they quote.

If the replacement car is secondhand, using the guide calculate the difference between trade and retail price to "guesstimate" their profit. That is the figure which you need to erode to get the best deal. If you are buying a new car then the best policy is to shop around and find out who offers the best "price to change", the difference between what you get for your old car and the price of the replacement.

One of the best tactics is to negotiate on the new car without mentioning a part exchange, secure a good discount, then at the last moment introduce your old car. As the salesman has invested lots of time he won't want to double back. Even better, breeze into the showroom without a car. By far the best way to get a decent motoring deal is to sell privately then go cash in hand to the dealer and negotiate from a position of strength.

Welcome to plan B: selling your car privately. This way you get more than the trade price, but also several times more hassle. Never mind, roll your sleeves up and clean that car; if you can't be bothered, get a valet company to do it for you at around pounds 30 to pounds 50. Dirty cars don't sell, or at least don't sell for as much as clean ones. Tidiness and shininess can add a couple of hundred to an otherwise ordinary pounds 2,000 car.

Next, gather together any information you have: handbooks, old MOTs, service history, warranties, receipts for any garage work and parts, then put them in a file. This always creates a good impression with buyers, because anyone who keeps paperwork this neat, must also have a neat car - well that's the theory anyway. Another way to attract buyers is to set a fat selling price. Look at local private advertisements to see what similar cars are being offered for.

Set a minimum figure which is financially acceptable to you, because no one pays the asking price these days and you will be expected to negotiate downwards. For instance: you need a minimum pounds 2,500 to put down as a deposit; cars similar to yours advertised for up to pounds 3000, then pounds 2,750 has to be attractive to buyers yet leave room for manoeuvre.

It is vitally important to advertise in the right medium. Cheap cars, hatches, saloons and estates up to pounds 3,000 sell better in a local paper, or free ads publications. Specialist cars like off-roaders and sports cars - as well as more expensive vehicles - ought to be sold in the relevant sections of the local Autotrader publication which feature thumb sized snaps and ads. Prestigious and expensive cars pounds 15,000-plus should find their way into up-market newspapers.

If your car is old enough to count as a classic, then choose any of the monthly publications, or the Classic Car Weekly newspaper. Write a brief ad, stating model, mileage, year, colour and price.

Now wait for the phone to ring. Most people are genuine, but some criminals can take advantage of an obliging seller so it is important to keep control of the situation. Make appointments to suit you and be strict about time keeping. Insist on identification, seeing a driving licence and insurance cover. Never let customers drive off on their own and never get into a car with the buyer and a couple of his burly mates.

Always have at least one friend or member of the family with you when a buyer calls. Be polite and honest, but make no representations about the condition of the car. Never hand over the keys unless you have the money in your hands. There are lots of stolen building society cheques and bank drafts around, so do not accept these unless you go with the buyer to the relevant bank or building society to confirm that the draft is genuine. Finally write a brief note giving basic details of the parties involved and a description of the car with the words "sold as seen", and get the buyer to sign it.

Sport
Thiago Silva pulls Arjen Robben back to concede a penalty
world cup 2014Brazil 0 Netherlands 3: More misery for hosts as Dutch take third place
Sport
Robin van Persie hands his third-place medal to a supporter
Van Persie gives bronze medal to eccentric fan moments after being handed it by Blatter
News
Ian Thorpe had Rio 2016 in his sights
people
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur
fashion

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
scienceScientists have developed a material so dark you can't see it...
News
Monkey business: Serkis is the king of the non-human character performance
peopleFirst Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Arts and Entertainment
Blackman: Landscape of children’s literature does not reflect the cultural diversity of young people
booksMalorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
Voices
Mrs Brown's Boy: D'Movie has been a huge commercial success
voicesWhen it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor
Arts and Entertainment
Curtain calls: Madani Younis
theatreMadani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Life and Style
Douglas McMaster says the food industry is ‘traumatised’
food + drinkSilo in Brighton will have just six staple dishes on the menu every day, including one meat option, one fish, one vegan, and one 'wild card'
Life and Style
Once a month, waistline watcher Suran steps into a 3D body scanner that maps his body shape and records measurements with pinpoint accuracy
techFrom heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Sport
Mario Balotelli, Divock Origi, Loic Remy, Wilfried Bony and Karim Benzema
transfersBony, Benzema and the other transfer targets
News
Soft power: Matthew Barzun
peopleThe US Ambassador to London, Matthew Barzun, holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence. He says it's all part of the job
Sport
Joe Root and James Anderson celebrate their record-beaking partnership
cricketEngland's last-wicket stand against India rewrites the history books
News
Gavin Maxwell in Sandaig with one of his pet otters
peopleWas the otter man the wildlife champion he appeared to be?
News
Rowsell says: 'Wearing wigs is a way of looking normal. I pick a style and colour and stick to it because I don't want to keep wearing different styles'
peopleThe World Champion cyclist Joanna Rowsell on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Information Security Manager (ISO 27001, Accreditation, ITIL)

    £70000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Information Security Manager (ISO 27001, A...

    C# Developer (HTML5, JavaScript, ASP.NET, Mathematics, Entity)

    £30000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...

    C# Integration Developer (.NET, Tibco EMS, SQL 2008/2012, XML)

    £60000 - £80000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Integration...

    Biztalk - outstanding opportunity

    £75000 - £85000 per annum + ex bens: Deerfoot IT Resources Limited: Biztalk Te...

    Day In a Page

    Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

    How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over northern Iraq

    A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
    The evolution of Andy Serkis: First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

    The evolution of Andy Serkis

    First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
    You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial: Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried

    You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial...

    Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried
    Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

    Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

    Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
    Children's books are too white, says Laureate

    Children's books are too white, says Laureate

    Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
    Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...

    Blackest is the new black

    Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
    Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

    Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

    The US Ambassador to London holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence – it's all part of the job, he tells Chris Green
    Meet the Quantified Selfers: From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor

    Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

    From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
    Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

    Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

    Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
    Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

    Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

    When it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish – among others – know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor
    Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy: Was the otter man the wildlife champion he appeared to be?

    Otter man Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy

    The aristocrat's eccentric devotion to his pets inspired a generation. But our greatest living nature writer believes his legacy has been quite toxic
    Joanna Rowsell: The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia

    Joanna Rowsell: 'I wear my wig to look normal'

    The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef gives raw ingredients a lift with his quick marinades

    Bill Granger's quick and delicious marinades

    Our chef's marinades are great for weekend barbecuing, but are also a delicious way of injecting flavour into, and breaking the monotony of, weekday meals
    Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014 preview: Why Brazilians don't love their neighbours Argentina any more

    Anyone but Argentina – why Brazilians don’t love their neighbours any more

    The hosts will be supporting Germany in today's World Cup final, reports Alex Bellos
    The Open 2014: Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?

    The Open 2014

    Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?