How do Car Trade companies value your car?

Authored on on 09-08-2021 by Kieron Quinn

When it comes to selling your car, the first thing you need to know is how much your car is actually worth. The best way to start your journey is to understand the difference between the retail price and the trade price of your car.

The best place to do this would be a websites like HPI  which gives you both the trade, private (non dealer) and retail (dealer) values for your car.

The dilemma…

When you sell your car to a professional buyer (car dealer) they must make money on any stock they bring in.  This means, if the retail value of your car is £8,000 then they are not going to buy it for that same price.  Quite simply, there’s no money to be made.

In the same way a seller (you) needs to know how much their car is worth – the buyer (us) does too.  Therefore, dealers use the CAP (Car Auction Price) and Glass pricing guides to get the value of any car they’re considering purchasing.  The CAP/Glass guides are independently produced and are based on real time market values so is therefore an accurate guide price on what a dealer should be paying for your car.

There are three levels of CAP that traders pay attention to:

  • CAP Clean will assume there is very little to be done with your car before it can be sold to retail. Less than £150 on average.
  • CAP Average is the middle of the road, with assumptions being made about the vehicle being in reasonable condition for its age and mileage, having a valid MOT certificate, requiring very little in the way of work and with a nearly complete service history.
  • CAP Below will be used for vehicles that may be in poor condition or have been hard worked (i.e. high mileage). There might be little MOT remaining and there are doubts about it passing without mechanical intervention. More often than not there will be damage to trim or bodywork and there may be paperwork missing.

How we work

Here at iCashCars we do not make any assumptions about the condition of your car. After all, how could we, we haven’t seen it?

Your initial price from us is a price that we would hope to achieve for you – the best possible price (in most cases). However, if once we’ve inspected your vehicle, we discover there are scratches to the paintwork, small dents in the bodywork, damage to the tyres or your service history is incomplete then the value will decrease. This is protocol for any dealer, no matter what they may ‘guarantee’ before they’ve seen the car.

The reality is, a trader is going to want to sell your car on – and in order for them to do that it has to be in the best possible condition.  Any problems that exist with your car when you sell it, will have to be put right by the trader, which inevitably costs money. As a result, that money will come off the offer price.  After all, if you went to buy a car from us and it had dents and scratches on it, wouldn’t you want money off?

Is it better to sell my car privately?

This depends. If you manage to sell, there’s every chance you will get a better price for your car.  There’s no one else trying to make money from the sale of your car other than you, which makes things infinitely simpler from a financial perspective.

However, there are quite a few things to take in to consideration when selling privately:

  • What condition is your car in? If your car has damage, are you going to fix it? If not, you have to ask yourself whether you would buy a new-to-you car with pre-existing damage. Would you accept ‘age related’ damage when buying a car? Or would you go somewhere that offered a better-quality vehicle?
  • Can you offer warranty? Many private buyers want the peace of mind of buying a car that has warranty. This is something private sellers usually cannot give.
  • Can you offer finance? The reality is that more often than not, a car priced at over £10k will be bought on finance. If you cannot offer finance, this makes your pool of buyers much smaller. How many people have that kind of money to buy a used car?
  • You’re responsible for listing and updating all adverts. At £100, every six weeks for an advert this is another expense you have to factor in and a potential drain on your time.
  • How much time do you have to dedicate to the sale? You will have to arrange all viewings, often dealing with time wasters and tyre kickers, as well as going on test drives with potential buyers.
  • How are you going to get the money? If your car has finance on it, do you expect the buyer to transfer you money, so you can clear the finance before they can take the car away? This is something we experience daily, and even as a reputable company, the finance payments always create a tense situation because it takes a while for the marker to be removed. Are you confident a buyer, who you’ve never met before, will pay it? Do you expect them to transfer you the money before hand? What assurances does the buyer have that you will pay it?


When you sell your car with iCashCars you can be sure you’re going to get the best possible price available, you’ll be assisted with all aspects of the paperwork, any outstanding finance can be cleared and funds will be transferred to you the same day at no extra charge or with any admin fees.

Find out how much your car could be worth now, with our independent valuation tool.

Back to blog