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Selling your car successfully

Aug 13, 2018

Selling your car can be a stressful experience, especially if you’re new to doing it. Follow these tips to sell your car without getting ripped off in the process.

Selling your carWhen it comes to selling a car, women in particular feel intimidated by the exercise ‒ and it’s not only the case in South Africa. A survey conducted by UK car-selling platform back in 2016 found that 68% of women in the UK dreaded selling their car, 40% feared being ripped off, and 24% admitted they had had a bad experience selling a car in the past.

While some do take advantage of women and men alike, the good news is that there are more ways to sell your car nowadays than just through a trade-in at the dealership. What’s more, there are things you can do to inform yourself on how to best price your car to get a fair deal.

Book value vs market value

Before you start the process of selling your car, you need to find out what it’s worth. The motor trade commonly refers to the “book” value and the “market” value of a car. The book value refers to the price published in the Transunion Auto Dealers’ Guide, explains Jamie Surkont, director at used car retailer getWorth.

“The book is used as a guide or base pricing instrument. One must still take into account many other factors that can affect a car’s selling price or market value. Factors such as the condition and history of the car, its colour and mileage, demand, and the state of the economy can all impact the car’s actual value,” he adds.

The market value, on the other hand, is the price that can actually be obtained by selling an asset on a competitive or open market. “Therefore, in car terms, it is the price you will be able to sell it for,” says Surkont.

Do some research on pricing

The best way to get your price is to do your homework. “Go onto websites and compare similar cars to yours. Be realistic about the condition of your car and inspect your car with fresh eyes, as if you were a buyer,” says Surkont. “Blemishes, damage and mechanical issues will affect what you will get. Then make allowances for the dealer’s margin or the discount that someone buying privately would normally expect.”

There’s also Transunion’s car value report that can help you get an estimated price for a once-off fee of R10.

Consider alternatives to selling your car through a dealer

You can sell your car back to the dealer or trade it in. Trading in your car is certainly convenient, but you don’t want to just accept the first offer you get. “Even if the price appears solid, you might be subsidising it through an inflated price on your new car,” says Surkont.

Consider the online alternatives that have sprung up in South Africa that allow you to sell your car snappily, including,, and which is an online auction site that will next month launch for the consumer. To sell your car privately, try

Research how much you’ll have to pay in transaction charges. (and soon charge a 5% fee on the sale price of the car. Make sure that you sell at the right price. “If the vehicle is priced right then it takes 24 hours on average to sell it,” says William Miller, co-owner of If you want to sell your car for a particular price, then ask them to put a reserve on it so that only deals above that price get accepted.

Clean your car

Before an inspection from a dealer or prospective buyer, clean your car inside and out. “A dirty car full of trash makes a negative impression, and a buyer will ask themselves whether the car was also poorly cared for,” says Surkont.

Be honest

If your car has a few scratches or has been in an accident, disclose this. Dealers and other surveyors are usually trained to inspect the workmanship and can tell just by looking at the paintjob whether the car has been in a collision. If you’re not sure whether your car has been in a crash, consult with the dealership that sold you the car or the manufacturer as they may have a record of it.

Service your car

If you want to get more for your sale, then make sure basic maintenance is up to date. “If the brakes are shot or the tyres bald, replace them,” says Surkont.

But he adds that if your car requires minor cosmetic panel work then rather sell it to a reputable retailer that will get it fixed properly. “You will save money in the long run,” he says.

Look at the mileage and motor plan

Motor plans are handy because they generally cover most service and maintenance costs. However, once they run out it can be costly to maintain a car which is why most people sell their cars. GetWorth recommends that you don’t wait until the last minute and that you rather sell at the 80 000km mark before the motor plan runs out.

“As soon as the motor plan runs out, the value of the vehicle will come down. If you want to keep the value of a second-hand vehicle make sure it’s under some kind of plan so people who are buying feel safe and have an insurance policy against any breaks,” advises Miller who also agrees with selling before it reaches the 100 000km mileage mark.

Get your paperwork together

Once you have an idea about the value of your car it’s important to get all the paperwork together before you sell your car. There’s no point in making a last-ditch desperate scramble to find the paperwork if you have an interested buyer. Getting the best price for your car doesn’t mean you have to know everything that goes on under the bonnet but it helps to do your research and to get everything in order before you start the process.

This article first appeared in City Press.


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Maya Fisher-French author of Money Questions Answered

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