Male and female with two young children packing up red car.

Negotiating a car part exchange

Decided it's time for a new set of wheels? If so, you can sell your car in one of three ways: privately, through a dealership, or as part exchange. Let's look at the last option in more detail.

A part exchange means you use your old car as part payment towards a new car bought through a dealership. It can be a great way of getting a discount on a new car, and it could save you the hassle of selling your current car.

Pros and cons of part exchange

The main advantage is it can save you time in the long run. You won't need to worry about creating and managing your sales ads, or dealing with members of the public. You'll also save yourself money through not having to pay any advertising fees.

But, if you opt for a part exchange, you're probably not going to get as much money for it than if you sold it privately. This is because dealers need to cover the costs of reselling and make a profit on top of that.

You need to weigh up the pros and cons and decide whether a part exchange is the best option for your needs. If you're willing to dedicate time and effort to selling your car, doing it privately may guarantee you the best deal. But, if you'd rather hand the keys over and walk away, a part exchange's your best bet.

Valuing your car

If you're considering a part exchange, it's vital to do your research to make sure you get the very best deal. Start by finding out how much your current car's worth, and then look around for the best deals on the car you want to buy.

Autotrader has a free online valuation tool, where you can find a car's average price simply by entering its registration details. You can also use the tool to get a valuation of the car you're looking to buy.

Getting the best part exchange deal

When it comes to securing a part exchange deal, you're aiming for the price gap between your old and new car to be as small as possible.

It's really important to consider both car values when part exchanging. If the dealer's valued your car generously but won't budge on the higher price of the new car, then you're simply not getting the best deal.

To get the best possible offer, follow these tips:

Get your paperwork together.

Cars are more desirable with their paperwork intact. Along with the VC5 (logbook) and current MOT details, if you've got proof of service history and invoices of work carried out, hand these over to the dealer.

Book in for a service

If you've been a bit lax on the car servicing front, booking it into the garage could help bump up its value. Use Which? Local to find reliable garages in your area.

Go prepared

Proving to the dealer you've done your homework will help ensure your car isn't undervalued. Make sure you visit the dealer equipped with print outs of classified ads and car reviews; eBay's completed car auctions is also a good resource to use for car values.

Repair bodywork damage

If your current car's relatively new and there's damage to the bodywork, you should think about getting it repaired as this could affect its part exchange value. This isn't necessary with older or cheaper cars, as repair costs will often outweigh the difference in value.

Give your car some TLC

Before driving to the dealership, give your car a thorough wash on the outside and a good clean and vacuum on the inside. A gleaming car's far more attractive to dealers and will help you get the highest part exchange value.


Never agree to pay the asking price for a car straight away – always negotiate. If the dealer's offering you a run-out model (one that the manufacturer's replacing or updating soon), be sure that it's at a knock-down price. Second-hand buyers waiting for the new style means these older models, normally with design and engineering well-honed, sell at reduced prices.

If you're clear you know the value of both cars and are looking for the best deal – no matter which dealership it's from – the dealers will know you'll simply go elsewhere if their offer isn't good enough. They'll normally be willing to budge on their first offer, and will be especially keen to do so if they know you're well-informed and ready to take your business to another showroom.

If what the dealer is offering you isn't anywhere near what you were expecting, be prepared to walk away. There are plenty of other dealerships out there, and you might even decide that it's worth the time selling privately in order to get the best deal.

Part exchanging your car online

You can part exchange online but the process can be a little tricky as there's no way for dealers to check your car. It's vital that you accurately describe the state of your car, as failing to mention any damage could result in the valuation being reduced or withdrawn.

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