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Advertising campaigns for car-buying companies typically emphasize convenience above all else, claiming to make simple and straight-forward a process often frustrating between private parties.

The advantages

These services demand little legwork of their users is self-evident; instead of chasing up indecisive suitors perusing the market for the cheapest deal, sellers are offered the guarantee of a purchase, with free and purportedly accurate price quotes available online within seconds of entering registration details.

Thereafter, only the formality of providing necessary documentation and arranging a suitable time for a suitable time for a vehicle inspection — many firms boast offices in major cities, while technicians can be despatched to one's home, catchment area permitting — stand between you and a completed deal.

In line with their mantra of hassle-free service, staff are encouraged to push through transactions swiftly, forced only to observe bank transfer waiting periods (which can, in any case, be circumvented with an additional charge).

Presuming the vehicle profile you provide is accurate, your car can be out of your driveway and the money deposited in your account in the very same week you establish contact with the company.

You may be able to sell your vehicle to any of these dealers even if you still have finance on it. Obviously, this will be taken into account and the money paid out will be less the amount outstanding.

It is very simple to start the process - just enter your car registration on the dealer's website. One thing that is very important is that the V5 needs to be in the name of the person selling it to prevent frauds.

The drawbacks

Using this service makes sense if your priority is simply a quick sale bereft of headache-inducing complication, but the trade-off should also be readily apparent.

There being no chance of running into an inexperienced novice with deep pockets, you are likely to quoted a price significantly below the figure you could potentially command from a private buyer.

Moreover, online valuations come with the caveat that they may be subject to change (read: reduction) upon the completion of that aforementioned in-person inspection — and frequently are: The Guardian reported in 2018 that one company honoured only one in 25 initial quotes (though it has since found new ownership).

Users have complained that minor cosmetic imperfections, as well as serious mechanical faults, may be cited as reasons to downgrade the price (of course, a faded paint-job and a scruffy rear bumper are less likely to concern private buyers who require a car for personal use rather than sell-on value).

Pesky administrative and processing fees may also help to drive down your final takings.

Your choices

If it's a more financially rewarding sale you are looking for, then the additional workload required on the private market need not overwhelm provided you are equipped with a basic understanding of your car's value and the resultant avenues available.

Your decision may ultimately rest on the prevailing taste consensus of the moment; in 2020, a compact and cheap-to-run car will probably command a fairer price from companies looking to tap into the vogue for economical and environmentally sound living.

Conversely, an older, gas-guzzling hatchback is more likely to yield dividends from specialist buyers on the private market — even taking into account commission stipulations on websites such as eBay and the (fairly modest) cost of advertising space in trading magazines.

If your car is on its last legs, and plagued with major mechanical issues, you may find more luck selling residual parts to scrappers than going in search of anything approaching book value from instinctively cautious car-buying companies.

Final tips

If you are seduced by the promise of a swift, no-nonsense sale, then be advised that services that demand little of their users do not do so without good reason.

In order to ensure you get the best deal possible, you are therefore encouraged to seek a private valuation where possible, while also remaining wary of misleading online quotes and the likelihood of undue price depreciation at the final hurdle.

Unless you are desperate for an instant windfall, there is no reason you should settle for a raw deal.

Don't forget that there are many dealers and be sure to check quotes between them before choosing who to trade your car with.

You might be interested to know about: Cars For Cash.

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