How to get the best price when selling your vehicle

There are two options: selling privately or selling to a dealer, and both have their pros and cons.
There are two options: selling privately or selling to a dealer, and both have their pros and cons.
Image: sidelnikov / 123rf

Used-car prices in SA are rising due to increased demand for high-quality used stock, making it a seller’s market.

TransUnion Africa reports that the latest vehicle pricing index (VPI) for used vehicles rose sharply to 4.9% from 1.6% a year ago.

There is a growing trend of consumers downgrading from a two-car household to one slightly more expensive vehicle; for example, trading two sedans for one SUV, a trend that’s expected to continue in the upcoming months.

If you’re selling your car, here’s advice on how to get the best price.

There are two options: selling privately or selling to a dealer, and both have their pros and cons.

Selling privately

The benefit is that you will get a higher price compared to selling to a dealer who will buy your car and resell it for a profit.

This is where the concepts of “trade” and “retail” values come from, with the former being a guide to what an average dealer would pay for the car, and the latter being an indication of what an average buyer would be willing to pay for the car.

The drawback of selling a car privately is that it takes time and effort, whether it’s taking and uploading photos, or waiting for buyers who are not serious or who don’t turn up at all.

There’s also a security risk in dealing with strangers wanting to test drive your vehicle; they could be criminals posing as buyers.

It could also be a longer process as you may have to wait for buyers to get approved for bank finance.

Selling to a dealer

You will get a lower price, but selling directly to a dealer either as a straight sale or a trade-in is more convenient as you won’t need to worry about advertising the car, meeting potential buyers and transferring ownership.

If you’re in a hurry, selling to a dealer is quicker as they don’t need financing and can pay you straight away. Dealers will also take care of the paperwork and settle the outstanding balance with the bank should you have one.

One option to try get the best price is to advertise it on weelee.co.za, a free service for sellers. It has a bidding platform in which thousands of pre-approved dealers fight it out to give you the highest offer. This is unlike the traditional car sales method where only one buyer gives you a single offer.

Age and mileage

On average within the first year, cars depreciate and lose between 15% and 30% of their market value, says AutoTrader’s George Minnie. Within the first three years, you can expect to lose anything up to 50% of the car’s value.

New cars depreciate faster than used cars, meaning it’s better to keep a new car for longer, as it might not be the most feasible decision to sell your car within three years of buying it; whereas used cars have usually experienced the critical time of depreciation, so owners wouldn’t lose as much if they consider to sell.

The higher the mileage that your car has, the lower the trade-in and resale value will likely be. Selling your after anything between 50,000 to 100,000km is usually considered the “ideal”.

There is also a correlation between age and mileage based on a reasonable mileage per annum. For instance, a three year old car could be considered low mileage if it has done less than 75,000km (25,000km per annum).

Presentation

Whether selling privately or to a dealer, it’s important to convince the buyer that you looked after the vehicle.

Nothing is a bigger turn-off to a prospective buyer than a dirty car, so ensure it’s freshly cleaned inside and out. Give the paintwork a polish to bring out the shine and to remove minor scuffs and scratches.

Vacuum the interior and clean any stains, give all the plastic and rubber a shine, and ensure the cabin smells fresh. Clutter looks messy, so remove all your personal items from the interior and the boot.

Clean the engine bay, as grime and leaking fluid will signal that the car isn’t in great condition. Low coolant and oil levels are another sign of a car not receiving the TLC it deserved, so ensure they’re topped up.

Fix minor problems

Spending a few hundred rand to fix minor dents could increase your car’s value by thousands. Using touch-up paint to cover small chips is another low-cost way to improve the presentation.

Keep receipts for any services and repairs carried out while you've owned the car. A fully stamped dealer service record adds value.

Find the right price

Get the car’s book value online at TransUnion, which will provide a Car Value Report for R10.09.

Used-car sites like AutoTrader, Gumtree and Cars.co.za will also show what similar models to yours are being advertised for.

This will give an approximate value based on your vehicle’s age and mileage but the final price will be dependent on various criteria including its condition and colour (white cars have the best resale value and lowest insurance premiums due to their visibility on the road while gold, brown and purple are harder to sell).

If there is any time remaining on your service plan, maintenance plan or warranty, this will help add to the value of your vehicle.

Keep the spare key and other items that came with the car, such as pin numbers for the audio systems, Bluetooth device and info referring to immobilisers and alarm systems

The transaction

Never part with your car before money from the buyer has cleared in your account — it is imperative to make sure funds are cleared.

After selling the car, ensure you submit a change of ownership (NCO) form to your local registering authority to prevent receiving traffic fines on a vehicle you no longer own.


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