Not all car valuation services were made equal. The valuations they offer depends on what data they gather and if they have a bias due to commercial incentives. This guide will take you through the process of gaining valuations from the major car valuation companies and car buyers to review and compare their valuations. Using the data we find and our conclusions from it you'll get a better idea of how to use the valuation services to get a true picture of the price you'll get for your car.
First a note on the process we'll be going through to test these services. We'll be using the registration details of five different cars and testing each valuation service for the same cars. The cars in question are not owned by us and we do not know the condition they are in, however we'll be consistent for each car across valuation services in mileage and condition providing what we think would be the actual condition of a well maintained car for its age.
Car valuation services split into two main groups, those that will buy your car from you and those that simply provide a valuation in return for a small fee. The valuations given by each of the two types will evidently be different, as car buyers will give you a valuation that they are willing to pay for your car. This valuation will be substantially below the price they then sell your car to a customer for, as their business model revolves around ensuring they buy as cheaply as they can to have enough stock to sell to consumers.
This is not to say that the car valuation services you pay a fee for are without bias either. While their data is based on actual sales data, they are unable to know the final selling price for every car and often are largely based on auction sales. If your particular car is quite rare the data might be out of date and the price your car would go for might be substantially less.
Remember that the amount you'll get for a car depends mostly on how you sell it. You'll typically get the lowest amount selling to a car buyer, but you won't have to spend money on advertising your car for sale or on auction fees. Private sales can bring the most, but this is reliant on finding a buyer interested in your car. If this takes too long you might have spent a substantial sum on advertising your car for sale.
Let's start by introducing the five vehicles we'll be testing:
A 1997 Volvo 940 Estate, R565 EEV
A 1999 Vauxhall Zafira People Carrier, V761 BNV
A 2001 Volkswagen Golf, Y353 KGX
A 2007 Mini 1.6 Cooper Hatchback, KH57 HXN
A 2011 BMW 3 Series Coupe, K88 AGA
All these were picked to show a wide spectrum of vehicles on the road in order that we can see if some valuation services are likely to give higher valuations to certain types of car, years of car or other factor. The mileage is an estimate for vehicles of this age and for every car we've assumed full service history, no damage or faults and no previous owners.
Valuations of the 1997 Volvo: Predictably the valuations given by the car selling services of what they'd offer are lower than the private sale price quotes from the quotation services. WeBuyAnyCar offered us £265 for this vehicle and were beaten by their rival WeWantAnyCar who offered £408-£417. Of course you need to look at these with a pinch of salt as they can both change their valuations upon inspection of your vehicle. Glass's predict you'll get between £445 and £640 if you were to sell this privately, and between £95 and £575 as part of a trade in. Parkers gives a larger rate for private sales, from £285 to £675 and thinks this car would net you £355 in an exchange.
Valuations of the 1999 Vauxhall: Once again the car buyer that offered most was WeWantAnyCar with a valuation of £698-£716, in comparison with £635 for WeBuyAnyCar. Glass's thinks this car should sell for £210-£600 privately and be worth £95-£205 in a trade in while Parkers range it at £465-£860 privately and for a trade in £545.
2001 Volkswagen Valuations: Yet again we see the higher quote of the two car sellers from WeWantAnyCar who offer £1408-£1435 in comparison with a quote of £1205 from WeBuyAnyCar. Parkers value it as £1330 privately in good condition and £820 in poor condition showing that sometimes car buyers are a better option than selling privately. Parkers also think this should be worth £910 in a part exchange. Glass's meanwhile think in a part exchange you should get £280.00 to £740.00 and in a private sale from £700 to £1260.
The 2007 Mini valuations: WeBuyAnyCar offer £6270 for this car, while WeWantAnyCar have a higher offer coming in at £6778-£6915. If you sold privately Parkers thinks you'd get between £5950 and £7090 while Glass's estimates £5570 to £6870. For a trade in Parkers estimates you'd get a credit of £6280 while Glass's says between £4060 and £5580.
The 2011 BMW's valuations: This is the one car where WeBuyAnyCar beats the offer made by WeWantAnyCar by offering £22,665 as opposed to £22029-£22678. If you were to sell this privately instead Glass's thinks it's worth between £22,660 and £25,410, while Parker's range it's value between £23,160 and £26,215. For part exchange Parker's thinks you'll get £24,940 while Glass's estimates a range of £18,360 and £23,410.
This is perhaps the major online car buying service in the UK which has been so successful it has expanded its operations across the Atlantic. They've been operating in Britain since 2006, advertise on TV and have a well designed easy to use website.
Their site requires you to input the registration plate of your car. It will then bring up the details of the car from its database. Most cars it can find, but a few it doesn't have details on so it might ask you to input these if it can't find them. Check the details it brings up are correct as they will affect the valuation, you can alter them if they're not. These details include year, make, model, engine size, colour etc. After confirming these are correct you'll then be asked for some details about yourself. You'll then get a valuation which if you think is enough to be worthwhile selling for then you can arrange an appointment to sell your car at.
In four out of five of the cars we tested the offers made by WeBuyAnyCar were less than those made by WeWantAnyCar, the only car that WeBuyAnyCar offered a valuation which was as good or better in was the most recent car. Of course this is simply comparing online quotes that might change when you take the car in to sell so it doesn't necessarily mean that WeBuyAnyCar will end up giving you less than WeWantAnyCar even if their quote is lower. In some cases the quote offered by both these car buying services was better than Glass's and Parker's think you'd get in a private sale so it is worth checking them out for your individual car.
This service has a very similar name and a very similar business model to WeBuyAnyCar. It's valuation system works slightly differently in that it asks more questions about the vehicle then gives you a valuation range rather than a single value. What's the same is that the valuation is what they are willing to pay and they'll arrange an appointment with you if you choose to accept the valuation.
Start by simply entering your registration plate details on their page and clicking to continue. You'll then be asked to confirm the car details presented are correct, if so continue. You can then select which features your car has from a checklist, on some models the basic features are already ticked but not on all. Be as accurate as possible as this really can affect valuation. On the following page you'll tell them the mileage, how many previous owners the car has had, it's service and MOT history, as well as details on the condition and colour of both the interiors and exteriors. The next page allows you to specify and damage the car has. After this it's simply a matter of entering your details to get a quote. You'll need to enter your name, mobile number, post code and email address.
With four out of five quotations better than their rival service if you do plan to sell to a car buyer then this is likely to be your best option. Of course you'll often get more selling privately, but not always and selling to a car buyer is a far more convenient way of selling your car.
Glass's are one of the largest car valuation companies. It's used by both consumers and businesses for valuations and relies on its accuracy to maintain its business with car dealers who rely on the data for pricing their vehicles.
Their site offers free basic valuations to consumers based on the registration plate details. These valuations come in ranges that are often quite large for three types of car selling: private sales, trade ins and dealership prices. The large rangers is especially true at the lower end of the market where cars might be valued in ranges where the top figure is several times the lower figure. Of course this is accurate to real life - car value depends a lot on how much a buyer wants it and the car mileage, which with the free valuations on Glass's isn't taken into account.
The process for getting a valuation from Glass's is quite simply. Visit their website, input your registration plate number and your email address, click Go. On the next page you'll need to confirm the car and if you're not already registered fill in a short registration form. You'll then be taken to a page with the valuations on it and the option to get a more accurate valuation by paying a small fee.
Valuations on Parkers work a bit differently to the other services we've reviewed here in that they don't ask for your registration plate number or any other personal details. Instead they ask you to select the make and model of your car from a long list, this can be slightly complicated as cars sometimes have a very large list of similar models so it will require you to know the exact name of your car. You'll be asked details such as mileage and any optional extra which you can update when you get your quote if you missed any out earlier. Now Parkers are a valuation company rather than a buying service and thus provide a range of quotes like Glass's. The main ones to be interested in are the private sale quotes, for which it provides a Good Condition and Poor Condition valuation for you to choose between. There's also a quotation here for what you're likely to get in a part exchange trade in.
If your car is over 10 years old you'll have to purchase access to Parkers' data which costs £3.49 for 24 hour period. Also if you want to be more specific on certain options this also requires you to pay for their premium valuation.