None of us really fancy ourselves as used car salesmen, so trying to flog a car can be a stressful business. Many drivers are so keen to get the whole thing over with that they make all the most common mistakes, and lose out on hundreds of pounds. Cara Whitehouse from Tootle has revealed the six insider secrets that can get you a much better price for your car - even if you're a complete novice.
1. Know what your car is worth - and price it realistically
Use online tools such as those from Parkers, CAP and Auto Trader to get a sense of private and trade-in prices. You may not get exactly this price from your sale, but it's a useful benchmark to start with. Whitehouse adds: "Make sure you take into account any damage on the car when you're estimating its value too - if you price it too high, you'll likely get no interest."
2. Decide how you want to sell
Whitehouse points out that selling privately should always get you the best price. This is particularly true of older, cheaper cars, which attract comparatively low offers from dealers. Different private sales websites are more or less suited to certain types of cars - but the site with the widest reach is Auto Trader.
However, she adds that this approach doesn't always suit you - or your car. She explains: "It can be difficult to sell expensive cars privately because a private sale offers none of the security a dealer can (like warranties and a returns policy). Selling privately can also be hard work - having to negotiate with strangers and 'tyre kickers' can be frustrating."
If you have a newer car with a lower mileage, you can consider selling to a dealer. Whitehouse suggests: "A dealership specialising in your particular make will likely give you the best price. But it's also worth checking those that specialise in your type of car - such as high performance cars or 4x4s."
You can be confident you've got the best price by getting offers from multiple dealers through a site like tootle. The platform sends alerts to hundreds of dealers when a car that matches their buying wish list is uploaded to the system, and they'll send any offers back through the system.
3. Give your car a spruce
It's not rocket science, but sometimes we miss the most obvious tricks. Whitehouse says: "Whether you're taking pictures to put on Auto Trader or heading to a dealership to negotiate a sale, make sure your car looks its best. Give it a good clean inside and out. Dirty paintwork and junk all over the backseat can give buyers the impression that the car hasn't been as well looked after as they'd have hoped."
4. Create a great ad
If you're selling privately, make sure your ad stands out. Include information on the exact model and spec of your car as well as any optional extras it has. Whitehouse says it's also a good idea to include a brief 'history' of the car and why you're looking to sell (if you need to upgrade to a family car, for example). This can reassure people that that it's still in good condition and has been well cared for.
She adds: "Take high quality photos of a clean car from the front, back, both sides and both 'front diagonals' (showing the bonnet and side). You should also take images of the wheels, the front and rear seats, the open boot, the dashboard and any valuable options. Make sure all electronic instruments are turned on when you take pictures of the dashboard and features such as the sat nav - this will reassure buyers that everything works and the mileage you've quoted is correct."
5. Prepare your full service history
Whitehouse says that a car with full service history is worth as much as 20% more than one without - so if you have this, use it to your advantage. She says: "Have proof of all your services and invoice receipts for any work that has been done to hand when you're negotiating with a buyer."
6. Know how to haggle
Haggling doesn't come naturally to everyone, but as a seller is actually far easier than as a buyer. Whitehouse says the key is to let the buyer know your final price at the start of the process. She explains: "It may seem counter-intuitive, but studies have shown that a final price normally ends up closer to the opening offer than the counter-offer. If you've done your pricing research, you should be confident of knowing what a good deal looks like."