The recent Car Owners Survey done by CompareGuru of 1 000 car owners in South Africa has highlighted top five concerns when selling cars: defining the value of the car (41,5%), negotiating the price (36,7%), understanding the paperwork(10,6%), ensuring the safety of the payment (2,7%) and dealing with time-wasters (2,7%).

Michael Muller, MD of says it doesn’t have to be that way.

Here are some of the key points that Muller says will equip you to get the best deal for your car.

Get proper comparative prices

Go online – there are a number of South African car buying service websites that – based on the model, mileage, age and condition – will be able to give you a reasonably accurate estimate of your car’s value.

Get it physically assessed: No offer is final until the buyer has inspected the vehicle, and often one’s vehicle is further from the perfect condition than you realise.

“Remember that a dealer has to incur a lot of costs to sell your car so you’re not going to get offered the price a model like yours is being sold for online or on the dealership lot. You can use those retail values as a benchmark. It should be roughly 20-30% more than a trade-in price you can expect,” said Muller.

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Know your car

Before you do your online assessment, make sure you know what model you own and what condition it’s really in. This means knowing its service history and what accident or mechanical repairs it’s had done. A physical assessor will likely pick this up.

Have the condition independently evaluated. “Automotive experts such as Dekra and KwikFit can also provide you with a report on the condition of your vehicle. This may cost you a few hundred rands, but it could save you thousands when you are negotiating with a buyer.”

Ask the dealer for the cash price

Always ask for the cash price first and see what they offer you. It will give you a better idea of what the dealer thinks the car is really worth. Then ask for the trade-in price. This may be a better one, but it’s likely the dealer will recover that cash price/trade-in price difference in the deal on the new car you’ll be buying from them.

“You want to go in strong but don’t throw out a number that’s patently unrealistic – it will just chase the buyer away. Based on your comparative pricing research, decide on the ideal price you want, though leave a little wiggle room to negotiate.”

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Don’t fix the bumps and scratches

There are two main reasons why it is best to let the dealership refurbish your car themselves.

It will cost them far less, as dealerships will have industry contacts to get panel beating done and tyres replaced for a lot less. The price the dealer offers you is unlikely to warrant the cash you’ll spend fixing it.

They like to know what they’re buying: Dealers don’t like to see signs of work done without knowing exactly how serious the original damage was.

Be honest about the accident history. Professional buyers will be able to see if the car has been in an accident, regardless of what you tell them, and not being honest about it will only make them nervous about what else you might be “hiding”.