Time to buy a new car? – what to do with the old one?

Top tips for selling your old car to make way for the new one

trade in
sell privately
buy a new car

When it’s time to buy a new car, but you’re not sure what to with the old one – what are your options? Should you sell it privately online, through ‘social selling’, or should you trade it in at the dealer where you’re buying your new vehicle?

Here are ‘pros and cons’ to all these routes:


1. Selling privately online

Paying a small amount to post pics of your car on a general vehicle sales website may seem like a quick, cheap way to move your current vehicle out of the garage to make way for the new one, but bear a few things in mind before you take this route:


  • Arrange a roadworthy assessment and certificate for your vehicle and take care of any repairs necessary to achieve the certificate prior to the assessment.


  • Make sure that you are asking for a fair price for your vehicle – do extensive research online to compare prices of vehicles similar to yours to make sure that you are giving – and getting – a good deal.


  • Ensure that you have got the time to chat to each potential buyer, fielding their calls whenever they want to get through to you.


  • Use these conversations to gauge how serious the buyers are before you agree to meet them for a test drive. Ask questions about how they intend to finance the purchase, and what their needs in a vehicle are.


  • When setting up a test drive with a private buyer, make sure that your insurance covers them while they are driving. Ask to the see their driver’s license before you let them take the wheel.


  • Meet in a public place and plan a test drive that’s short and through busy areas. Always go on the test drive with them, no matter what they offer as collateral to go on a test drive alone.


  • Once you’ve agreed on a price, meet the seller at their financial institution to complete the transaction.


  • Don’t hand over any ownership documents until the agreed purchase price is cleared in your bank account. Keep a paper trail of all discussions and negotiations surrounding the deal.


2. Social selling

Another way to potentially sell your car, is through social media channels. You would post photos of your car, along with details of the sale, and promising a commission to the person whose referral by sharing on the social network leads to the sale of the car.


  • If you want the details of your car to go far and wide, you’ll need to reduce the privacy settings on your Facebook profile.


  • If a buyer contacts you, make sure to follow all the same steps that you would follow with any other private online sale, including meeting in public areas for test driving.


  • Make sure you’ve got a strategy in place to deal with multiple claims on the referral commission – the nature of viral communications online is that posts may be seen by overlapping circles of friends, and you may have more than one person claiming the money you’ve promised.


3. Trading in at the dealership

Negotiating a trade-in with the dealer where you’re buying your new car means that you’re working with an expert in the industry, who has the experience and knowledge to research and offer you the best possible price for your vehicle.


  • Trading your car in at the dealership means that you deal with one person in the sale of your car. You won’t have to arrange road-worthy certificates, manage test drives, or get involved in any of the admin needed by the eventual buyer of your car. You’re also dealing with one place to complete both transactions – the sale of the old car and the purchase of the new car – which offers a whole lot of timesaving.


  • It’s worth phoning a couple of dealers yourself to find out what they would offer for your vehicle, so that you can enter informed negotiations with the dealer where you’re trading in your old car. Remember to include all relevant information about your car in these discussions, including model, odometer reading, service record, and any dings and scratches that may impact its value. It’s not worth being economical with the truth – any omissions will come to light, breaching trust.

Read: "How to spot a trustworthy car dealership" here.


  • Make your car presentable when you take it in for visual inspection. A wash and a vacuum won’t hide any major problems with the car, but they will make it more visually appealing.


Regardless of the method you choose to sell your car, make sure that you are getting a good deal for it. If you are not happy with the deal put on the table, discuss it with whoever is making you the offer to come to a mutual understanding