The best way to determine a car’s worth is by using a valuation guide like Kelley Blue Book or Edmunds, where you can see the car’s worth from the year you bought your car and the day you sell your car. Knowing a car’s value is essential before you start any transaction to sell, trade-in, buy, or refinance a vehicle.
1. Review Your Car Value Guides
An online car price guide is one of the best ways to find a car’s value. You can plug in a car’s information and location; the guide will show what the car is worth.
Here are the three industry-standard car value guides to help you:
a) Kelley Blue Book – Named after the actual blue books it once published, Kelley Blue Book (KBB) is the oldest car value guide.
b) NADA guides – The National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) represents franchised dealers and allows consumers to access its retail valuation guide.
c) Edmunds – The youngest of the three guides, Edmunds’ True Market Value tool clearly shows whether a car is priced right.
Which is The Best Car Value Guide? KBB vs. NADA vs. Edmunds
You’ll get three different answers if you put the exact vehicle in all three. Why? Because if you’re selling your car, get the highest value; if you’re buying, get the lowest.
Information to Have on Hand
- Year, make, model, and trim/series
- Engine size and type
2. Pick the Type of Value You Want in Selling or Buying a Car
A car is only worth how much a person is willing to pay — however, there are many people and vehicles.
Selling Your Car
- Trade-in value is likely how much a dealer would pay for your car. It’s the lowest value here, as it’s much more convenient to trade keys at a dealership than selling a car directly to another person.
- Private seller value is when you’re up for selling your car on sites like Facebook Marketplace, where you can find some good buyers and tire-kickers who either waste your time or profit from it.
Buying a Car
- Private party value is a used car; buyers could find a great deal without a middleman (the dealership) to jack up the price. Just be sure to inspect the vehicle first.
- Dealer retail value is higher than the trade-in value because the dealership needs a profit.
- Certified pre-owned (CPO) value has a higher price tag than regular used cars but typically comes with the manufacturer’s stamp of approval and a longer warranty.
3. Adjust the Value According to the Car’s Condition
A car’s condition can range from FAIR to EXCELLENT, but remember, it depends on an engine’s health. According to Kelly Blue Book, most used vehicles are sold in “GOOD” condition, which means the car has some repairable defects and is free of major costly mechanical problems.
Once your car has been bought for longer years and used thoroughly, with the help of a valuation tool, you can determine how much your vehicle’s depreciation is every year and how much you could adjust in your pricing when you sell your car.
4. Search for a Car-buying Site that is Reliable
Look at the going prices for comparable vehicles. Dealer advertisements, Craigslist listings, and other car-buying sites can provide live examples to help you determine what your car is worth, like Whipflip.
Again, you could also go straight to the source and get an offer from a car company in person at a dealership or online.
5. Examine What is Your Needs
How much do you want to get for the vehicle? What is your budget to buy a car? If you want to get the most for your vehicle or pay the least for your new car and don’t mind doing some work, the option is to work directly with another person and skip the dealership.
How quickly do you want to complete the transaction? If you want cash now, selling your vehicle to a car company or a dealership will likely be the fastest option. However, selling it yourself could net you more money, but remember that selling it yourself is a hassle since you must go personally and take your time for the negotiation. You could talk to a good buyer or sometimes scammers only.
How much time and effort are you willing to invest in buying or selling? Avoiding the dealership will probably take work, but you can make money or save money that way. Selling directly to another individual entails interacting with possible customers, placing ads, taking test drives, and filing paperwork at your neighborhood DMV. Meeting new people for test drives is another aspect of buying now from someone else.