This article is part of a series on how to get the best value from your car. We also explore if car leasing contracts are good value for money.
Motorists are moving online to sell their used vehicles, but they could be sacrificing a better price for the convenience of a quick sale.
The closure of car showrooms during the third lockdown led to used car sales falling by nearly 9pc in the first three months of this year, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, a trade body.
Meanwhile, the number of people buying cars online spiked. Software firm GForces, which provides online services to car retailers, said that the number of new and used cars bought through its online platform last year increased by 1,228pc.
Online car retailer Cazoo recently sold its 25,000th car less than 18 months after it launched. Meanwhile, We Buy Any Car, sister company of online sales firm Cinch, recently bought its two millionth vehicle since launching in 2006.
With the proliferation of car-buying websites in recent years, customers now have more choice than ever before. But which is the best option for buyers and sellers, and will you get a better deal if you do it in person?
These services are fast and often provide a smoother selling experience than the traditional private route, but can come with drawbacks. Chief among these is the price obtained at sale – a seller is almost certain to receive a better price if they sell or auction the car themselves.
Websites to avoid when selling second hand cars
Undercover research from consumer firm Which? recently sent six mystery shoppers to receive a quote from both a traditional dealer and a car-buying website.
It found that five of six mystery shoppers would have been better off selling to a dealer than to a website. In one case, the price offered by a website was more than £2,000 lower than the price offered for the same car by a dealer.
Online buyers usually offer the seller a quote based on the registration number and mileage of their car. However, there is no guarantee that the quote received online will match the final price. Staff may offer less than the initial valuation after a detailed inspection of the car has taken place.
This can make it difficult to distinguish which firm will offer the best price, as each will have a different process for calculating a final valuation.
Best websites to sell used cars
As well as Cazoo and We Buy Any Car, sellers could also offload their vehicle to websites We Want Any Car, The Car Buying Group, or Money 4 Your Motors. These websites work similarly to each other but vary slightly in the services they offer.
For example, the website Buy My Car, which specialises in higher-end vehicles, will collect the vehicle within three days of the initial valuation being accepted.
We Buy Any Car does not offer a collection service. Sellers instead have to drive to the company’s nearest outlet. There is usually also a small transaction fee involved, ranging from around £50 for cars worth up to £4,000 to around £75 for cars valued over £5,000.