You’ve driven your car for years and know every detail of its makeup both inside and out. You’ve kept up with its scheduled maintenance from the moment you brought it home off the lot. So why is it so hard to assign a value to your car now that you plan to sell it?
Understanding how used cars are valued can be tricky as the process is dependent upon a number of factors like mileage, overall condition, and the current market. Before you list your car for sale online or take it to a local dealer for a trade-in, make sure you’ve done your homework and given your car an honest assessment.
Factors That Affect Your Car’s Value
- Book Value:Though mileage may vary, researching your car’s “blue book” value gives you an accurate starting point. Simply enter the information online via the Kelley Blue Book or NADA Guides (make, model, mileage, condition, extra features, etc.) and you’ll be given an estimate.
- Condition:It’s important to be as objective as possible when assessing the condition of your vehicle. At best, you’re likely to underestimate any issues because you want to make the highest profit from selling your car – plain and simple. At worst, you may feel an emotional attachment to your car and have a hard time letting go of “your baby.” Acknowledging your car’s true condition will not only ensure you sell it quicker, but easier as well since potential buyers will have seen pictures and been made aware of its problems in advance.
- Reputation:It’s true that some vehicles hold their resale value better than others, so that’s another important thing to keep in mind. In terms of brand recognition, Lexus continues to dominate the competition and has topped Kelley Blue Book’s “Best Resale Value Award” for five years running. Subaru also wins the “Best Brand” category for affordability, longevity, comfort, and safety. In general, if your car is well-known for boasting high mileage with minimal repairs, you’re likely to get more in money or trade for it.
Trade-In vs Private Party Sales
When assessing your vehicle’s value, you’re going to be asked whether it will be a dealer trade-in or private party sale. It’s helpful to determine this early on as it weighs heavily on the final monetary outcome.
- Dealership trade-in: If you’re looking to upgrade to a new(er) car, you might be tempted to simply trade in your old one. Why not? It’s easy and you won’t have to bother listing it publicly or meeting strangers for test drives. Just know that dealerships intend to resell and turn a profit on their used cars, so you’re probably going to get much less than you would selling to a private individual.
- Private party: Should you decide to list your vehicle on Auto Trader, Craig’s List or elsewhere online, it can take a considerable amount time and patience, but the advantage is that you’ll likely make more money. Take a look at what others are asking for the same vehicle locally as region – in addition to supply and demand – can make a difference. For example, searching “Las Vegas used auto” online will yield better results than a broader search for make and model. It also doesn’t hurt to get your car detailed and serviced so it’s in top shape for the sale.
It may seem like a hassle to sell your vehicle, but a little patience and due diligence will pay off quite literally in the long run – especially if you’ve kept it in great shape as the original owner. To peruse vehicle listings, check out Simply Autos’ used car database for pricing and local dealership availability.