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Determining the Worth of Your Car

by Bill Sweeney
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Selling a car can be a challenging process, and figuring out how much you can charge and realistically expect from buyers can be the most daunting facet of the task. If you’re planning to sell or trade in your unwanted vehicle soon, it’s important to keep the following facets in mind to ensure you set the right price for your car.

What’s the Difference between Retail Value and Trade-In Value?

As you begin the car selling process, you’ll encounter a variety of different terms and vocabulary you might not be familiar with. Understanding the important terminology is essential to getting the most out of your car. One important distinction you must understand is the difference between retail value and trade in value. Retail value is the amount you can expect to pay for a car at a dealership that’s the same model as your car—with a similar history. This number is nowhere near what you can expect to fetch from a private buyer. Retail value is almost always much more than what a private seller can realistically charge for the same car in a similar condition. Trade in value, in comparison, is the money you’ll get from a dealership if you decide to trade it in. Trade in value is always significantly lower than trade in value, because the dealer is tasked with dealing with paperwork, tests, inspections and reconditioning. You lose money but you gain convenience. Trade-in values are often so low that many people decide to sell their car privately.

How Do I Figure Out Current Market Value?

To estimate the value of your car, it’s important to consider the current market value. These values are based on databases filled with current selling prices of types of vehicles across the United States. This means you can get updated price estimates at any given time, depending on how well your type of vehicle is selling in different parts of the country. Regionally, prices can be very different, because location, climate, and culture play into how much wear and tear your car faces on a regular basis.

There are many factors that go into current value. The mileage and condition of your vehicle to your car’s history (accidents, damage, etc.) can influence the value of your car. Vehicle history provides plenty of information for searching buyers; if you’ve skipped maintenance or been in quite a few accidents, buyers won’t be willing to give you full price. Beyond vehicle history, aesthetic features and upgrades can also negatively and positively affect your car’s worth. Did you know car paint color could play a major role in your resale value? Standard colors like black, white, and silver fetch higher prices, while loud, vibrant colors don’t do as well. Certain nonstandard features including extra safety options, automatic headlights, and sound systems can improve your car’s worth. However, there are other upgrades that don’t pay off, like chrome wheels, expensive, detailed leather seats, and unnecessary technology features.

Using a Car Buying Company

If convenience is your aim, car buyers are your best bet. Many vehicle owners elect to use a company that specializes in buying cars. Generally, you won’t receive as much money as you would through a private sale, but this process is less of a hassle. Whether you’re selling a next to new vehicle or a junker, these companies are willing to take it off of your hands. Admittedly, their payout is a lot lower, but they generally handle removal of the car (great for those with a dead vehicle that hasn’t run in months or even years) and can take care of issues regarding paperwork and leases. If you have a car that doesn’t run or doesn’t serve a purpose for you anymore, getting rid of it quickly may be the goal—a car buying service can help in this regard.

If you’re considering selling your car in the near future, it’s important that you know how to accurately determine its worth. Keep these considerations in mind and get the most out of your car sale.

Determining the Worth of Your Car was last modified: May 18th, 2017 by Bill Sweeney

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Stacie @ Divine Lifestyle May 21, 2017 - 6:38 PM

This is great information! I really had no idea that paint color could affect the price of a car!

Amy @ Marvelous Mommy May 23, 2017 - 4:29 PM

We specially picked a white Honda because we knew it had a better resale value. My husband works at a car dealership so he knows what to do when it comes to buying cars.

Annemarie LeBlanc May 23, 2017 - 11:27 PM

Wow. This is good information to know. I always thought that a shiny fire engine red car would command a higher resale price. I was so wrong! Thanks for letting me know. I’ll share this post with my friends and family.

Michelle Waller May 24, 2017 - 10:34 AM

I’m hoping to sell my SUV soon. It is a red car, so I am positive I will not get anywhere near what I paid for it.


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