The internet is a fantastic marketplace – you can buy and sell everything online now, from houses, to suitcases. Those selling online are often able to offer lower prices than the costs of products in bricks and mortar stores. Plus, the internet has connected individuals who are looking to sell to each other, cutting out the middleman. Cars are perhaps one of the most expensive purchases that we make. If you’re looking to reduce your up front purchase costs – or get a good price for an old vehicle – selling or buying online offers a great, simple option.
What are the choices?
There are lots different choices when it comes to selling or buying a car online now but most of them come down to the same structure. Normally, a website or app serves as a database, either distributing your car details to dealers or showing you the buying options available. These are four of the most popular:
Carwow – this site works on the basis of comparison. Find the car you want to buy and you’ll be shown a list of prices from different dealers across the UK. You then choose the one you prefer. Benefits include the ability to compare local and national dealers and also to compare by various factors, such as location and other buyer reviews.
Tootle – essentially, the seller’s version of Carwow. You enter all the details about your car, including images, into the website. You’ll then get information on interested dealers and what they’re prepared to offer. When an offer is accepted, the buyer usually collects the car from your home, making the process pretty easy for a seller. Tootle vets its buyers to make sure everything runs smoothly. Update July 2020: Tootle went into administration in 2019 – try Motorway.co.uk instead.
WeBuyAnyCar – a site for car sellers that simplifies selling. You’ll get a valuation from entering your licence details, which is based on the usual factors, such as age, market value and car type. The process is then taken offline with an appointment at one of the WeBuyAnyCar branches (200 around the UK), which is where the sales process is completed.
Wizzle – selling via an app. Cutting out the middle man – Wizzle claims that selling via its app can get consumers on average 30% more than using traditional car buying companies. The car details are entered via the app and then distributed to the network of dealers who email with best offers. Arrangements about payment are made privately, not through the app.
What are the benefits of using these sites?
Saving money. On the whole, most of these sites will save you money. They do this my reducing or doing away with the fees and charges that a traditional car buyer or seller business would impose. Savings can be substantial – for example, Carwow claims you can save average of £3,600 on your new car
Taking the hassle out of car buying. There are enough disgruntled customers of traditional car buying and selling methods for these options to appeal. Whether as a result of hidden fees or complicated procedures, many people feel hard done by. Then there’s the process of collecting a sold car or picking up a purchased one – many of these sites offer a free collection or delivery instead.
Speeding up the process. Although most people are unlikely to ‘sell within 30 minutes’ as one of these sites claims, there’s no doubt that they are faster than existing options. Putting buyer and seller directly in touch reduces the time spend on correspondence and offers are made up front.
Security. Contact details are only shared in certain circumstances so identity security is better than selling privately. Payments made through the site also add an additional layer of peace of mind.
Getting the most out of online car buying and selling
There’s no secret formula to using these sites – a few simple tips are enough to help most people get a good deal:
Register with more than one site. These sites don’t all have access to the same database of buyers/sellers, so you’ll get a wider range of offers if you use a couple of sites at the same time.
If you’re selling, be detailed. You’ll get the best offers if you provide a detailed description of the car, as well as images.
If you’re buying, be patient. You may not get exactly what you want straight away so play the waiting game. Either that or be flexible in terms of make and model.
Remember that many of these sites don’t take charge of the payment process they just put you in touch with a buyer/seller. If you’re using a site like this then make sure you have a record of the payment, either physical or electronic, and don’t part with your car without the money in your account.
You may wish to sort out your car finance before you commit to the car purchase, in which case take a look at our car finance pages for further information.
Alex Hartley is a keen advocate of improving personal finance skills. She's worked at Solution Loans since 2014 and written hundreds of articles about how people can manage their money better. Her interest in personal finance goes way back to...Read more about Alex Hartley