Part-exchange – Everything you need to know about the part-exchange process

Part-exchanging is one of the most popular ways of disposing of your car. It is quick and usually hassle free, which is why many buyers choose to swiftly get rid of their car in this way.

There are things you should know, though, as it’s not quite as simple as you might think -which is why we’ve put together this handy guide.


Clean your car before taking it in

While dealers won’t be too worried about light dirt, if your car has not been washed in some time, they will be able to tell. A car that hasn’t been cleaned in years doesn’t exactly give the best impression that it has been cherished by its keeper, and while this might not be the case, it’s how many dealers think.

If you also have any scratches or dents that could be taken out, it is worth having them fixed if they ruin an otherwise spotless car. While it isn’t worth bothering if your car is worth a few hundred pounds, if its value is in the thousands, it could make economic sense.

In short, £20 or so being spent to make your car look presentable could equate to a dealer giving you a few hundred pounds more in return.


Know what it’s worth before you go in

Car dealers are always looking for good quality used stock and want to make your purchase easy for you.  Yes, part exchange vehicles can head straight to their nearest motor auction if they aren’t in a good enough condition to be retailed but dealers will often work with you to ensure the car can be sold from their forecourt.

You can use online car valuation tools, to find the best price for your car before meeting a dealer or you can also look through the classifieds to see what similar cars are advertised for. Many valuation tools include part exchange prices, too, giving you an even more accurate idea of its value.

Be aware, though, that dealers and car valuation services will pick up on any marks, dents and other imperfections and will knock money off accordingly.

Know the price you want, though, and if it’s realistic and the dealer won’t give you the price you’re after, go elsewhere.


Choose a dealer that is likely to accept your car

While many new car dealers will simply part-exchange your car out of courtesy to sweeten the deal, some used car dealers may only accept a car if they feel that they might be able to sell it themselves. This means that if a specialist garage deals with the car you drive, you have a better chance of part-exchanging it there than anywhere else.

For example, an Audi dealership is far more likely to offer you a better price for an Audi compared to what a Ford dealer could offer, as they are likely to be more effective in marketing your car to their customer base.

In addition, some dealers are registered with specialised services that offer sellers a pre-agreed price for their car. By doing this you are pretty much guaranteeing how much you can expect to receive for your car when you get to the forecourt to make a part-exchange and pick up your next vehicle.


Be honest

It’s always worth telling the dealer of any problems when they’re giving you a price. While it might seem a good idea at the time to not tell them about that hidden fault, it can lead to complications if the dealer recognises it when you’re actually handing your car over.

As well as the negatives, though, it’s also worth highlighting work that the car has had done. If it has well been maintained, tell them, but also have paperwork to back it up. If it’s also fitted with any desirable optional extras, let them know too, as this can increase value.


Bring the relevant paperwork with you

This mainly applies to receipts and paperwork that you might have with you. If you claim your car has a full service history – which can noticeably increase its value – but don’t have a stamped service book or receipts to show this, your word counts for nothing. Bring in paperwork to prove your car’s history.


Part-exchanging a car with outstanding PCP finance

Roughly 80 percent of cars are financed using a PCP (Personal Contract Purchase) product.

The most common way of part-exchanging your car on a PCP is simply by handing it back at the end of the contract, replacing it with a new car on a new finance deal. Another way of doing it is by paying the optional final payment on your PCP, meaning that you then own the vehicle outright.

It is possible to part-exchange a car that has outstanding finance. A dealer that takes in the part-exchange will settle the outstanding finance by making a payment direct to the finance company. It’s always worth getting in touch with your car’s finance company and checking the car’s terms and conditions before doing so, and always notify the dealer if it has finance.


Don’t be frightened to shop around

If your preferred dealer won’t give you the price you’re after – providing it is realistic – don’t just accept it anyway – shop around to see if others will give you a higher part-exchange price. Even if they won’t, you can go back to the first dealer with confidence that you’re getting the best price for your car.


Keep your deals separate

A common habit that dealers like to use is by using a ‘cost to change’ price, giving you the total cost for you to change, rather than the price for your new car, and the part-exchange price separately. It often tricks you into thinking you’re getting a better deal than you are, so it’s best to separate these two things so you know exactly the price you’re getting, or paying, for both. Always know the cost to change vehicles yourself, though, as this is ultimately what will determine whether you can afford your next car.


There are other options out there…

While part-exchanging your car is a hassle-free way of selling it, there are other simple methods, such as using an online car buying service or using a part-exchange service that gives you a clear pre-agreed valuation for your car. If you have a desirable car in good condition, certain trusted dealerships may give you a cash price for your car, even if you’re not part-exchanging it at that particular garage.


Empty your car thoroughly

This applies to however you aim to sell your car – make sure you take all your belongings with you. This also includes checking any storage areas, cubby holes and behind and underneath seats. An extra look, or another pair of eyes, could help you find that lost set of keys or even just a few pounds down the side of a seat.

James Ash


Content Marketing Executive at

March 13, 2018

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