Setting the Asking Price

Setting the Asking Price

Setting the right price is the most crucial part of selling your car; set it too low and you'll find yourself out of pocket, set it too high and you'll get very little interest from buyers. However, a little research can help you to find the true market value for your car.

1. Researching the Price

To find out your car's market value, you'll need to have a look around at two things; what the official guide prices are for cars of your type and style, along with what other people are selling at.

Price Guides

Official price guides may be found either incorporated into motoring magazines or as separate books. There are also a number of guides that may be found free of charge online.

It's important to remember however that these prices are only a guide; there will be a number of prices given for each model year and registration to cover differing conditions of car. However, there are also many other variables other than the car's condition to take into account (see below), which means getting the exact book price will be rare.

Trade Ins

Even if you intend selling your car privately, it's worth visiting a local dealer to find out how much money you could get for your car by trading it in. This will give you an absolute rock bottom price at which you should expect to sell - anything above this can be regarded as profit.

However, don't look at the prices you see on the garage forecourt as an indication of what you could receive privately; these include a premium for warranties, guarantees and the legal protection dealerships can offer buyers from buying through them, rather than privately.

Classified Advertisements

Have a good look through classified adverts on websites, in magazines and newspapers to get a good idea of the kind of money that other sellers are asking for models similar to yours. This will help you to see what the going rate is for most cars; particularly popular models, as there will be so many listed. Adverts are also a good place to look for older cars that may not be listed in standard price guides.

Owners Clubs

If you have an unusual or old car, it could be worth getting in touch with the relevant owners' club to ask them to help you to value it. You may have to join the club or pay a valuation fee, but you should end up with a fairly accurate valuation. Enthusiasts will have a good knowledge of your type of car, and will be able to account for any extras, as well as the overall mileage and condition. However, particularly with classic or unusual cars, the price will also depend on the right buyer being around at the right time.

When setting the price for your car, always leave yourself room to negotiate. Whilst you can always knock the price down, you can never talk the price up.

2. Price Adjustments

Once you've found the general range of prices you can expect for your car, you'll need to look at what adjustments you'll have to make. If you've got a particularly good example of a car, it will be worth a premium - but you have to work out just how much.


If your car is in reasonably good condition, and has covered fewer miles than average, then it will be worth relatively more. Unfortunately the reverse is true; you'll have to reduce the price of a higher than average mileage car in order to get buyers interested. There are a number of mileage-adjustment tables available to work out how much you'll need to deduct or add on.


You'll need to be brutally honest with yourself about the condition of your car. If you don't adjust the price accordingly if your car is a little worse for wear, than buyers will simply walk away when they see it.


On the whole, limited and special editions aren't worth much more than the basic model, unless they have a great deal more additional equipment. However, some editions or colours may be particularly sought-after by buyers, so it's worth finding out if this is the case.