Online researchCar buying websites such as WeBuyAnyCar are leaving motorists almost £1000 worse off compared to what they would get through selling their car privately, claims independent new research commissioned by Auto Trader.

On 4 August 2017, consumer insight agency Join the Dots researched guaranteed sale valuations for over 300 cars from WeBuyAnyCar, and then compared them to Auto Trader private sale valuations. The average shortfall was £958: in 98 percent of cases, WeBuyAnyCar’s price was lower than the Auto Trader real market value.

Premium brands were hit particularly hard. The average loss for a BMW was £1282; for Audi, it was £1142 and Mercedes-Benz, £1044. SUVs were also valued an average of £1237 less, “proving 4x4s to be the least profitable car type to sell through WeBuyAnyCar than privately on Auto Trader”.

The biggest shortfall was for a 5000-mile 2016 Ford Focus RS: WeBuyAnyCar offered £8835 below the Auto Trader private sale price. Join the Dots senior research director Chris Haydon said the study “reveals the trend… that could strip consumers of significant profits if they don’t understand the true market value of their car”.

The research was commissioned by Auto Trader to provide market insights into its latest initiative: free listings for sellers of cars costing £1000 or less. WeBuyAnyCar, on average, offered 27 percent of the Auto Trader private valuations for these cars – that’s a £586 shortfall, meaning you could potentially more than double your money if you sold your cheap car privately rather than going for the convenience of sites such as WeBuyAnyCar.

Some motorists will still prefer WeBuyAnyCar for this very reason – a quick, instant sale, rather than having to field calls from potential buyers, take them on test drives, go through the haggling process and such like. But given the extent of the potential shortfall, it’s likely many may now question just how much that convenience is worth…