For any transaction involving pre-owned autos, getting an estimate used car value should be one of the first steps in the process. Knowing the approximate used car pricing is important for sellers who need to unload their current vehicle, as it helps to ensure they properly price their car. This knowledge is equally important for buyers, allowing them to locate fairly-priced pre-owned vehicle options. Many resources exist for consumers who need to estimate the value of a used car. The following steps should help buyers and sellers alike acquire an estimated used car value:
When approximating a specific vehicle’s used car value, its demographics factor fairly heavily into the equation. Age, mileage and options all combine to determine how much money the car is worth. As a general rule of thumb, older vehicles, those with high mileage and those lacking desired options will fetch less money than newer, lower mileage, better equipped counterparts. For sellers, this means you can ask for a higher sales price if your used car is demographically attractive. For buyers, this means significant money can be saved by searching for well-running older or higher mileage vehicles that are packaged with just the necessities.
Similar to demographics, a vehicle’s condition will play a significant role in determining its used car value. As one would expect, cars that are in better condition will garner a higher price than cars whose condition is questionable. The obvious component of a car’s condition is its body. In order to get the highest used car value, the vehicle should have no body damage and a minimal amount of dents and scratches (although a small amount of dents and scratches is typically okay, as it is a used car). Another aspect of condition, however, is how well the vehicle was mechanically maintained. The highest used car value will be given to those vehicles whose engines idle smoothly, whose transmissions shift normally, and whose driving dynamics feel like the day the car was driven off the new vehicle lot.
Some vehicles have aftermarket modifications that might have a positive or negative impact on the vehicle’s value. Some common examples of this are vehicles with comprehensive aftermarket sound and entertainment systems or vehicles that have had extensive performance modifications. Modified vehicles require special evaluation in order to establish a firm value. Remember that although a modified vehicle may appear flashy and alluring, unless the work was completed in a quality fashion the modifications can actually have a negative impact on overall resale value.
Events in a vehicle’s past can carry equal or greater weight than its demographics and condition when estimating used car value. Factors such as multiple previous owners, past accidents and major repair work can reduce the value of a pre-owned auto. Anytime a vehicle is sold or in an accident, and most times when repair work is performed, this information is given to various third-party reporting agencies and is electronically attached to a specific vehicle’s vehicle identification number (VIN). For a nominal fee, consumers have access to this information by purchasing a vehicle history report on the AutoCheck website. Sellers and buyers alike should always get a copy of this report to see if any important events may reduce their car’s value or projected future reliability.
After the aforementioned factors have been considered, consumers should estimate a vehicle’s used car value by accessing either the Kelley Blue Book or NADA website. These sites generate estimated used car values by allowing individuals to input specific information about a vehicle. The values provided by these companies are widely accepted throughout the used vehicle marketplace, and should be the starting point of any used vehicle price negotiation.