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.
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:
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.
Once this final step is completed, you will be directed to a chart that will indicate the fair value of your car. If you’re using an online car price guide, the website will list the fair value, without requiring you to refer to a chart.
How to Use the Results
Even though the first step was to clarify whether you were selling your car to an individual or trading it in at a dealership, most car value guides will still provide results for each scenario. In fact, many online pricing guides will even reveal what your car is worth if considered in excellent, good, fair, or poor condition. This overall snapshot of values can be used to help you decide whether to haggle or lose a deal over the condition of your car. In other words, if the dealer is offering to accept your car as a trade in good condition and you feel strongly that the car is in excellent condition, the value results may indicate a difference of such an insignificant amount that it may not be worth haggling over.
Quick Tips for Making the Car as Valuable to the Buyer as It Is to the Seller
If trading your car in at a dealership, cosmetic touch ups, such as those listed below, will usually will not add value to your car. However, when dealing with an individual in a private sale, these tips can make a big difference. Keep in mind, though, that the price of the repair, or touch up, should not exceed the value it adds to your car.
- Keep all repair and maintenance records up to date.
- Always maintain the condition and basic upkeep of your car. This includes oil changes, exterior washes, carpet care, and leather cleaner on the interior.
- Get rid of odors with an air freshener designed specifically for automobiles.
- If the car is especially unkempt, consider having it professionally detailed.
- Replace worn, missing, or damaged floor mats with new, inexpensive mats.
- Consider repairing loose headliners.
- Repair and broken glass or cracked windshields.
- Remove any bumper stickers or specialty tags.
Always know what your car is worth before discussing the sale or trade with other parties. The dealership will often value a car at a significantly lower rate than the car is actually worth. Obviously, this is an attempt to make as much money on the deal as possible. Work as hard to save money as the dealership works to make money.
For a private sale, have a Carfax report available. Strangers are often suspicious, particularly if the deal seems too good to be true. The potential purchaser might think that the car was previously wrecked or otherwise damaged, so presenting a Carfax report may be helpful in this situation.
Your car may not sell at the price you think it’s worth. If the car does not sell after being listed for reasonable amount of time, decide whether you should take it off the market or reduce your price. Just because the car is valued at a price does not mean it will sell for that price. Factors such as the economy, similar cars listed in the area, and dealership promotions and rebates will have an impact on how easily your car sells.