How to secure the best price when selling your car in the UAE

Fixing your vehicle's flaws and timing when you sell are crucial to securing a good deal

W4B2HR Car For Sale with advertisement sign on the back window. Automotive Industry. Alamy
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Selling a used car doesn’t have to be a complicated or frustrating process. It’s all about timing and making your car stand out from the rest.

The major factors that devalue a car are high mileage, not servicing regularly (as recommended by the manufacturer), repainting and accidents. Although accidents are out of your control, it does help to think twice about how and where you park to avoid scratches and dents. You could, however, make quick fixes and get a deep clean at a car-detailing garage before putting your car up for sale. Presenting your car in the best possible condition will ensure you have buyers lining up for it. Here are five top tips to help you secure the best possible price on the second-hand market:

Fix its flaws first

If you are not happy about the smell in the car or the scratches and dents on the doors from the car park, the buyer won't be either and they won't miss the chance to highlight flaws. There's no doubt the buyer will find the tear in the seat leather and use it to negotiate a lower price. Make sure the service and tyre check are conducted before the sale and that you fix as many faults as possible. Getting a car detailed and cleaned is cheaper than you think, coming in at a few hundred dirhams in some cases. The money spent on preparing the car will ultimately be recovered by the amount you eventually sell it for.

Sell it while the warranty is still valid

Most new cars come with a five-year warranty, or the possibility to extend a shorter-duration warranty to five years if needed. If you bought your car brand new from the showroom, the best time to sell is after four years. At that point, you would have owned the car past the worst period of depreciation (the first 18 months), and enjoyed hassle-free motoring for four years. The average car will rack up about 20,000 kilometres a year, the distance that manufacturers use to determine the standard warranty coverage. A car that’s been driven for 60,000km to 80,000km would have a full year of warranty remaining and would therefore still possess good value and appeal to buyers looking for a used car. A perk of selling the car in that period is that you miss the period of higher expenditure on the car, post warranty or 80,000km, when most cars need a major service and a second set of tyres.

Time your sale with the age of your car

If you bought your car second-hand, the best time to sell depends on the age of the car, and how many kilometres the car had at the time of purchase. A car generally drops in value at eight, 10 and 15 years. Selling it before it gets to 100,000km, 150,000km or 200,000km would secure the best value. In the UAE, Japanese cars fare better than their more luxurious German counterparts when it comes to higher kilometres. For example, the selling price of a Toyota Prado is less likely to be affected if it's been driven for 200,000km than an Audi Q7. Studies have found Japanese brands dominate the UAE's second-hand marketplace because the entry price points are quite affordable, the cars are very reliable and service and maintenance costs are much lower compared to German brands.

Spread the word

Listing your car with online portals to ensure it gets thousands of views every month is a natural first step, but to boost your chances of a sale, take advantage of your network. Tell your colleagues, friends and family, who know you and trust you, that your car is for sale. Extend your reach to your local community groups and the neighbour who always compliments your car. When using different channels though, remember to keep your price consistent.

Market your car's super powers

Highlight special features such as navigation or cameras in the description and only share complimentary images of the car. Nobody wants to buy a dirty car or one strewn with rubbish. Present it with the same passion and excitement that made you want to buy it in the first place. Explain the key features and benefits and the things you love about it.

Keep your test drivers legal

Let potential buyers take a short test drive, but check they have a valid UAE licence first, as in the event of an accident you want to be legally covered. The key is to take a short test drive on minor roads. If the buyer wants a longer test drive for peace of mind, suggest a full vehicle inspection before purchase. And stay with the driver in the car to avoid being caught out by theft.

Stick to your guns

Always conduct the transfer of the vehicle in an authorised traffic centre such as Tasjeel. If, at the time of transfer, the buyer tries to renegotiate or change the deal in any way, prepare to cancel the arrangement and walk away. Usually, they are just trying their luck. By then they would have purchased car insurance and tested the car for registration, so they are as committed as you are.

Clear your debts

As a seller, make sure you have cleared any outstanding bank finance and traffic fines. Also, remove your Salik tag, and keep your original Emirates ID, driving licence or passport handy to ensure a seamless transfer of ownership when transferring the vehicle.

Matthew Davidson is the head of motors services at dubizzle