How to part-exchange a car

Get a great deal on your old car as well as your new one, with our guide to part-exchanging a car

BuyaCar team
Oct 28, 2019

If you're considering the option of purchasing a new car, you may be wondering how you're going to do away with the wheels you already you have. You could put it up for sale, going through a whole load of stress making sure it has got an up to date MOT and giving it a thorough valet, or you could instead opt for a part-exchange.

Part-exchange is an excellent way of killing two birds with one stone. You choose your next car and then you offset the value of your own car against the cost of the new one and exchange ownership of the two cars. You get your new car and get rid of your old one in a single swift movement.

The added bonus of completing a part-exchange is that you end up having to hand over less cash, depending on how much your old car is adjuged to be worth, this can be a significant portion of your new cars value. It's also available on certain car finance options too, and you are often able to part-exchange your old car for a portion - or even the entirety - of a finance deposit.

Part-exchange is available:

  • If you own your car (including anyone at the end of a Hire Purchase (HP) finance scheme). The full part-exchange price goes towards your next car
  • If you are coming to the end of a Personal Contract Purchase (PCP) finance agreement. Depending on your car's value, part-exchanging a car on PCP could cover the deposit on your next car.


Many manufacturers also offer what are known as scrappage schemes, which give you the opportunity to exchange certain older models for up to £8,000 off a brand new model.

But if you aren't benefitting from a generous scrappage scheme, then it can be difficult to work out whether you're getting a fair price for your car. Read on for our guide to getting a good part-exchange deal,

How much is my car worth for part-exchange?

The value of your car in a part-exchange agreement is based on industry data, drawn up by companies that estimate the value second-hand cars. The car's mileage, service history and specification all have an impact on the amount that it's worth.

You can use BuyaCar's car valuation tool as a guide to a reasonably accurate value but the final figure will depend on the car's condition, with large scratches, dents and torn upholstery all having an impact. Once you have an initial quote, you will be contacted for more details needed to generate a confirmed valuation.

When your car is picked up prior to part-exchanging, it will be inspected to ensure that it is as described. If it is in a better or worse state, this can affect it's percieved value.

If you're comparing part-exchange valuations with different online car buying services, ensure that you are using confirmed prices, based on the condition of your car: the amount that you are paid can sometimes be much lower than the initial online quote. Some services require you to take your car for an inspection.

Part-exchange a car on PCP finance

PCP finance gives you the choice of either returning your car at the end of the agreement with nothing more to pay, or buying it for a one-off fee (known as a balloon payment).

But there's also a third option of part-exchanging the vehicle and getting a different car on a new finance deal, which can be worthwhile if you've looked after your previous car.

That's because cars coming to the end of a PCP term can be worth more than the initially agreed baloon payment if it's been well looked after, or covered less than the agreed mileage limit. If that is the case, then you can put that additional equity towards the deposit of a new car.

A company taking the car in part-exchange can settle the finance by paying the balloon payment to the finance company, and then pay the difference to you, which can then be used for a new finance deposit or in part-payment for another car.

It's also possible to part-exchange your car if you're in the middle of a finance agreement and you owe more than the car is worth. You can either pay a lump sum to settle the deal - known as the settlement fee - or the dealer can transfer the settlement fee to a new negative equity finance agreement, so you pay off your old car and your new one at the same time. It's important to ensure that this is the right option for you, and that the new repayments are affordable, as there are other ways of ending your finance agreement early.

Sell or part-exchange?

In general, you can get more money for your car by selling it yourself rather than part-exchanging it. This could be a worthwhile option if you have the spare time, and are happy to deal with enquiries and visits from interested buyers. Alternatively, you might look for the best price from various car dealers.

The cost of avoiding this hassle by trading-in the car can be seen as the difference in the part-exchange value and the price of selling your car privately.

Focus on the cost to change

Whatever price you're offered for your part-exchange, what really matters is the cost to you of changing your car. If a new car costs £10,000 and you're offered £3,000 for your current car, then the cost to change is £7,000 - the difference between the value of your part-exchange and your new car.

Another seller may only offer you £2,500 for your car. That may seem like a bad deal, but if they'll sell you the car that you want for £9,000, then you're going to end up paying less because the cost to change is only £6,500.


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