How to part-exchange your car

Ready to change your car but no idea what to do with the old one? BuyaCar can part exchange your old car when the new one is dropped off

John Evans
Apr 29, 2020

Buying a new car - whether you're paying with cash or going for finance, such as a PCP - is an exciting time and the culmination of many weeks or potentially even months of research. No wonder, then, that many people forget that not only are they purchasing a new car but they need to work out what to do with the old one, too.

If you paid cash for your current car or took finance and have since paid it off, you have an asset that could still be worth several thousand pounds. Even a 10-year old Ford Focus could be worth well over £5,000, so getting a fair price for this has a massive impact on what you can afford to pay for your next car. Put £5,000 towards a deposit on your next car and that could easily cut the monthly payments by £100 per month or even more.

Even cars that have outstanding finance may still have extra value in them if the car is worth more than the remaining finance balance. This is known as having equity. If your car has equity in it, therefore, you can still 'trade it in', using this additional value to put towards the deposit on your next car. The place you're buying your new car from then simply pays off the finance on your old car and sells it on.

In the past, part exchanging a car involved drivers searching around the country for a car that suited their needs and then making a trip to the showroom. Once there they had to haggle with the dealer for a good price on the new car and to get a fair value for the old one, before driving back in the new car. Things are much simpler in the 2020s, however. Not only can drivers order a new car from home with BuyaCar and have it delivered to their door, they can have their part exchange collected from home, too.

This follows the popularity of car buying services where you can get an online valuation, drive to a depot to drop the car off and get payment. However, some of these services have a reputation for valuing used cars at thousands of pounds less than they're actually worth and then slashing the price they're willing to pay for the car when the dealer actually sets eyes on it, for even the smallest scratch or dent.

You should describe your car accurately when getting a part exchange valuation, but however honest you are, some traders and dealers always seem to find an excuse to knock more money off. The part exchange process needn't be like that, though. Keep reading to understand your part exchange options.

Part-exchanging can save you money

Before starting your search for a new car, it's worth having a good idea of what your old car is worth. Otherwise you risk finding the car you like, committing to purchasing it and then panicking when you have to quickly sell the old one, with some drivers resorting to using one of the car buying services advertised on the radio - which is when you might end up getting less than you expected for it, meaning a higher cost that expected to change from the old car to the new one.

Your car is an asset. In other words, it’s money in your hands. You might not think so if the car is at the end of a PCP finance agreement but in fact, these are often set up so that the car should be worth a bit more at the end of the contract than the optional final payment.

This surplus is called equity and is yours to put towards your next car if you trade the old one in. Depending on the car and how in demand it is, it may be £100 or as much as £1,000 or potentially even more. It's not guaranteed and if values for that type of car unexpectedly plummet - as happened to some diesels following the diesel emissions scandal - you may have no equity at all. If that's the case, you simply hand the old car back to the finance company and walk away with nothing left to pay - provided you've stuck to the pre-agreed mileage limit and kept the car in good condition. 

If you own your old car outright, however, or have now paid off the finance, you can put its whole value towards your next car. Even if the car you're part exchanging is old and past its best, it still has a basic value and you should be able to part exchange it. You may get slightly more for it if you were to sell it yourself, but often this can be time-consuming and getting the price you're after is never guaranteed.

Whatever the amount you get for your old car, it’s cash in your hands which, when you’re purchasing a new car, can make a big difference. If you’re buying your new car on finance, it’s money that can go towards the deposit on the new car. This is important because the bigger the deposit you put down, the less money you need to borrow and the lower your monthly payments. A bigger deposit also reduces the total amount of interest you have to pay, as you're borrowing less.

The table, below, shows the effect that putting down a larger deposit can have on the monthly payments and total cost on a 48-month PCP finance deal for someone with an excellent credit score. The deposit may be in the form of cash or the equity gained when handing over a car at the end of a PCP agreement. We've based this example on a the value of a used Mercedes A-Class. You can see that in each case you would save more than the value of the deposit compared with putting down no deposit. The additional amount is the interest you don't have to pay, as you're borrowing less overall.

Mercedes A160 SE 2017 (66), 30,000 miles
Cash price £13,198


Monthly PCP payment 

Total paid over 48 months 




Saving compared with no deposit




























Part-exchanging with BuyaCar

When buying from BuyaCar, you’re free to do with your old car what you want. You might choose to sell it privately or to a dealer. Alternatively, BuyaCar offers a part-exchange service where your old car can be picked up from your home once your new one has been delivered, for ultimate convenience.

To use this you can get a valuation for your old car online. This is followed up with a phone call where you can discuss the car and the valuation. At this point - and based on your answers concerning the car’s condition and mileage - you may be offered a higher or lower price for it. You will also be asked if there is any outstanding finance on the car, as this affects its value (BuyaCar will also check its finance status separately).

If you decide to go ahead, BuyaCar will buy your car, settling any outstanding finance, and arrange for it to be collected at the same time as the new one is delivered. There are no fees to pay. It’s a fair and transparent process but it's always best to have a feel for what you think your car is worth before selling or part exchanging it.


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