The great debate: cash vs part-exchange

Buying a new car is generally the second biggest purchase you make, just behind your house. 

We bet you change cars more often than houses, though. Which is why when you’re looking for your next motor, it’s imperative you get as much cash as possible for your current car. This inevitably makes you ask the important question: what’s my car worth?

No matter your circumstances, it’s a good idea to get a general feel of how much your car is worth beforehand and what price you should expect from franchise dealers, part-exchange, independents and private buyers. You can value your car online quickly and easily with a car value checker – first find out what your car’s worth then you know where you stand and can work out your best options.

Selling your car yourself, or making a part-exchange deal is a decision many of us have faced. Choosing which one is best for you depends on your circumstances. Keep reading below for more information on part exchanging and selling privately.


We’ll kick things off by saying something obvious. Part-exchanging is less hassle than selling your car privately. The dealer will offer you a price for your car. That figure is then taken off the amount you owe for the new car.

Typically, you can get more money from selling private or from an online buying service. But this varies hugely, especially as it’s in the dealer’s best interests to keep you sweet.

If your car isn’t worth a great deal of money, and you’re switching it up for a new or nearly new car from a franchised dealer, it might be worth taking advantage of a scrappage scheme. Assuming you’ve met the criteria, dealers can offer you a part-ex price of thousands rather than hundreds.

Selling privately

Selling privately usually allows you to get more for your car – making it the preferred option for many.

This is far more drawn out than part-exing. You need to advertise, deal with tyre-kickers, then haggle with an eventual buyer. Plus you need to sort the paperwork and deal with the money safely.

 The Money Advice Service offer good advice on how to sell your car privately

Which is best?

Without wanting to sound a bit how long is a piece of string, it really depends on your outlook. 

If you’re in no rush and don’t mind the extra effort, selling privately can get you more cash for your old car, ultimately reducing the amount you spend on the new car.

Part exchanging is simpler and quicker but usually elicits less cash off your next car, making the next purchase more expensive. 

Hot take – the dealers’ perspective

The majority of dealers would probably prefer you didn’t go in with cash to haggle for a discount on your next new car. 

Most franchised dealers are aiming to steer away from discounting too heavily and instead relying on low-rate finance options and manufacturer-backed incentives to help bring in customers.

This argument totally depends on the quality of the part-exchange. If your car is destined for the scrap heap the dealer might prefer the cash option due to the hassle of having to dispose of it.


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