How to part exchange on a car

Part-exchanging your old car can reduce the price of a new one – and save you the hassle of having to sell your old model. So how does part exchange work? We explain. 

Part-exchanging your old car can reduce the price of a new one – and save you the hassle of having to sell your old model. So how does part exchange work? We explain. 

Daniel Hutson
From the Motor team
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Posted 11 OCTOBER 2019

What does part exchange mean?

When you part exchange a car, you trade it in to buy a new or used car from a dealer. The value of the car comes off the price of the new vehicle. This could save you money and might be easier than selling your old car privately, auctioning it or selling it outright to a dealer with no exchange.


The advantages of part exchange

Part exchanging your vehicle means you won’t need to cope with the stress of advertising it, organising viewings and test drives, and haggling with potential buyers. Plus, you won’t have the problem of a buyer coming back to you because something has gone wrong with the car.

Part exchange pitfalls

The main problem with part exchange is that you probably won’t get as much for the car as you would if you sold it privately, because you won’t be setting the price yourself. However, you can still negotiate with the dealer over price and you can put yourself in a better position for doing this if you go in prepared.

Getting ready to part exchange

Before approaching a dealer about a car part exchange, you need to have an idea of how much your car is worth on the market. A car’s value is based on its age, its condition, the mileage on it, its specifications and any modifications you’ve had done to it. There are several online tools you can use to get a value for your car. Of course, this isn’t necessarily what the dealer will agree to pay for it, but knowing your car’s value will help you negotiate.

It’s also good to have a figure in your head of how much you’ll accept for your car. If the dealer’s offer is too low, it might break your car-buying budget – so know the point at which you’ll be willing to go elsewhere or sell the car privately.

Decide where to part exchange

Do some research on the dealers you could approach. If you’re getting your car serviced at a local dealership anyway, it might be worth checking to see if they can offer you a good deal. Franchised dealers can make it easier for you to buy another car of the same make, and their familiarity with the brand means that they can easily appraise your car.

How can I get a good deal on a part exchange?

As well as knowing how much you’ll accept for your car, it’s important that it – and the car’s paperwork – are in tip-top condition.

Dan Hutson

From the Motor team

"If you’re looking to part exchange your car, you’ll get a better deal if you know exactly what vehicle you want and what your current car is worth. You don’t have to accept the first deal offered to you – you’re the person in charge and you can walk away if you want to.”

Get the car looking its best

Sort out any minor repairs before you take your car to the dealer – they’ll spot even the smallest scratch. Top up your oil, pump up your tyres and make sure your car is clean inside and out.

Ensure your car is as complete as possible with floor mats, spare wheels and other extras present and correct. You should be able to provide both sets of car keys, if possible. Dealers will want these for security reasons and modern keys can also be very expensive to replace.

Get your documents in order

Make sure you have:

  • an up-to-date MOT certificate
  • service records
  • any invoices for tyres and other vehicle extras
  • Your V5C log book

Should I part exchange on my car?

Ultimately, it’s up to you. If you’re determined to get the highest price for your car, it may be better to sell it privately. Do some research on how much cars similar to yours are selling for and compare this with potential part exchange prices before you make your decision.

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