#used cars values
How Can I Determine the Real Value of My Car?
There are plenty of reasons you might need to find out the value of your car, even if you’re not selling it. If you total your car, knowing how much it was worth before the accident can help get you the most money from your claim. You would also want to know how much it’s worth if you plan to use your car as collateral for a personal loan. And, of course, if you’re buying one, overpaying is the last thing you want to do.
Get a Value Estimate From Sites Like Kelley or Edmunds
Now, keep in mind that these values may not be tied to actual cars or car sales. Kelley, for example, determines car value based on a car’s initial price when it was new, market conditions, what people look for, and bunch of other factors. They don’t, however, analyze all used car sales (it would be impossible to track them all, anyway). So, while the KBB value may bear a close resemblance to what you might pay at a used car dealership, you would probably not get that same amount for a trade-in, or even a private sale unless you could prove it’s worth that much.
Find Listings for Similar Cars
Unless you’re dealing with very old or very rare cars, someone out there is probably selling a vehicle that’s very similar to yours. Search used car listings in your area for vehicles that are the same make, model, and year as your vehicle and see how much others are charging.
If you’re dealing with a total loss insurance claim, this will be your best bet for proving the value of your vehicle. The purpose of insurance is to make you whole again in the event of an emergency. You lost your car, so your insurance is supposed to pay you an amount equal to the value of that car. Occasionally, insurance companies will low ball you in an attempt to save money. You can take used car listings to your insurance agent to prove that, if you had to buy your car on the market today, this is how much it would cost. If the amount they offer is significantly lower than that, it’s time to negotiate (though be aware the price can be affected by factors described in the next section).
Additionally, if you’re selling your car yourself, used car listings are your chance to see what customers are looking for and undercut the competition. Your car may be worth $10,000, but if you’re willing to accept $9,500, you can put your car on the market for that amount and become more attractive to potential buyers (and in doing so, you have an effect on the objective value of your vehicle).
Finally, in doing your research, be sure to look at similar cars, not just identical ones. Knowing how much your exact year and model of car is worth is a big help, but buyers are probably not quite as picky. If you have a 2005 model vehicle, but the 2007 model is $5,000 more expensive, shoppers looking for a 2007 may be okay with getting something a couple years older if it saves them a bunch of money.
Factor in Mileage, Condition, and Extras
Not all cars with the same year, make, and model are created equal. Well, actually, many are created equal because they’re in a factory that way, but they don’t stay like that! Mileage is a huge factor in determining what a car is worth. While some cars last longer than others, a vehicle with less than 50,000 miles on it probably has a lot more life in it than one with 150,000 miles.
Determining how much the mileage of a car will reduce its value is not exactly a science, and it depends a lot on the age of the vehicle (a 2012 car with 30k miles on it has clearly been driven pretty hard, while a 2001 car with 60k miles on it probably hasn’t been driven much at all). However, in the US, the average person drives between 12k and 15k per year. Any more than that per year that your car has been around will probably reduce the value more, while less than that will probably drive its price up a bit. Again, look to see what other similar cars are going for.
Mileage isn’t the only extra that can affect a car’s price. Extras such as the sound system, sun roofs, convertible tops, and any other neat thing your car has can increase the cost. Of course, upgrading the CD player to a touchscreen XM radio won’t undo the fact that you drove your car 20k miles every year, but if your car has heated leather seats and an otherwise identical car does not, yours should probably cost a bit more.
If you followed the last few sections, you have just about all the information you could possibly need. Now, bring that price up. Remember, it’s your car and you want to get as much value for it as possible. The buyer/insurance agent/loan officer/whoever you’re dealing with on the other side of the table will do their job to bring it down. Use your information as a baseline to know how much your vehicle deserves and don’t go below what you know you can get. From there, talk it up.
Promote all the extras. Talk about how great of a condition its in. If you’re selling to a person, try to appeal to what they want in a car and highlight those features. If you’re trying to argue an insurance claim, point out ways in which your vehicle is better than others on the market (lower mileage for its year, better condition, fewer accidents prior to the wreck in question). Some cars may have more value than others, but every car has something to offer. Even if it doesn’t run, it could be used for parts or scrap metal.
Ultimately, as I stated at the beginning of this post, your car is worth whatever you can get someone to pay for it. Some people prefer to get a moderate amount of money up front if they can get it in cash, while others will hold out as long as possible to get every last cent they can. Once you know what your car has going for it and how much those assets can go for on the open market, how high you’re able to go all depends on how good your negotiation skills are.