Cars

How Much is My Car Worth?

Car Price Guides

Whether you’re considering trading your car through a dealership, selling it privately, refinancing it, or if you simply want to know what it’s worth, chances are you’ll be counting on a car price guide to assign a fair value to your vehicle. Car price guides can be accessed at the library, credit unions or banks, car dealerships, and online.

While that sounds easy enough, you might be surprised to discover the amount of information that is taken into consideration in determining the value of your automobile. Since a variety of car value guides are on the market, there may also be discrepancies that exist between one value guide and another. For this reason, it is up to the car’s owner to make sure that the car is valued at its maximum value.

Getting Started

While there are several car value guides available, the function of each is quite similar. Basically, you will begin by indicating why you are trying to place a value on your car. Used car values will vary based on whether the car is being traded, sold privately, or refinanced.

Identifying Your Car

Once you’ve identified the type of valuation needed, you will select the year, make, and model of your used car. Classic or antique cars are often classified separately. You will often be asked to select the vehicle’s trim package. Note that while an EX model might be a base model on one automobile, it might be the high-end model on another automobile. In selecting the trim package, many car owners make the mistake of guessing. This could result in assigning a less valuable trim to your car, thus reducing its overall value.

The next section of the car price guide will ask for specific information pertaining to your used car. The open-ended section of the requested information will include current mileage and your zip code. The zip code is required to determine the part of the country that you live in. Car prices and values vary from region to region.

Options and Upgrades

Following this section, you will likely find a checklist with all of the available options listed. You check off the features that your car has. This will include features such as power door locks, power windows, passenger side airbags, alloy wheels, leather, sunroof, and other components that are often considered options or upgrades. It is very important that features are not overlooked. It is a good idea to refer to the car’s original paperwork for this information. A car with a high number of extra features is referred to as loaded. A loaded car has a higher value than a base model car.

Indicating Your Car’s Condition

Finally, you will be asked to rank your car’s mechanical condition and appearance. Your choices will include:

  • Excellent
  • Good
  • Fair
  • Poor

A car with an excellent rating must run like new, and have no mechanical, body, or interior damage. All features and components must be in excellent working order. Repair and maintenance records are required.

In order for a car to be considered in good condition, the car must have little or no damage. Minor scratches and dings are acceptable. This car must be fully operable, without the need of any type of repairs.

Fair conditioned vehicles might need minor repairs and may have some body or interior damage. The damage should not impede the car’s ability to be driven.

Cars that need extensive cosmetic or mechanical repairs should be considered to be in poor condition.

Obviously, the better condition your car is in, the more the car is worth. Unfortunately, opinions often differ in this subjective analysis of a car’s condition. As an owner, be prepared to justify your position on the ranking you assigned to the car’s condition. This area has the most room for debate and the dealership or private buyer may try to convince you to lessen the value of your car based on their opinion of the car’s condition.

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