Your car value is primarily determined by one factor: what someone else is willing to pay for it. Now that we got that straight, let’s go over some of things to look for and do to determine how much to price your car when you want to sell it.
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The information you will have to know to do any research on the resale value of your vehicle is:
- Know the Year, Make, Model, Body Style, Engine Size, and Optional equipment for your vehicle. Hopefully, you will know at least the first four of these already. To determine the engine size you will need to pop the hood and look for a tag either on the engine itself or on the inside of the hood. The tag will usually describe the size in liters, i.e. 3.0 liters. You can determine how many cylinders your engine has by counting the spark plug wires. Usually, vehicles will have 4, 6, or 8 cylinders.
Some of the optional equipment is easy to figure out. Does the vehicle have an automatic transmission or a manual one? Do you have a radio, CD player, Multi-disk CD player, M3 player, or DVD player? Do you have all the power options such as power windows and locks, power seats, or adjustable pedals? Is you vehicle equipped with heated seats or a moon roof? Is it two or four wheel drive; is it front or rear wheel drive? There might be other options available, which will add to the value of your vehicle.
- Locate the vehicle identification number (VIN #) and make a note of it. The VIN number is located in a few places on the vehicle, but the easiest place to get it is from the driver’s side of the outside of the windshield.
- Write down the mileage of the vehicle. This is a very important determinant of the price your car will bring. The less mileage your car has on it, the more you will get for it. If your vehicle has high mileage, not only will it not add to the value, but also it will take away a lot of the value.
- Determine the condition of your vehicle. You need to be objective and honest in your appraisal, because any prospective buyer is going to point out anything they find wrong with your vehicle. What you are looking for is the condition of the car overall. Is there any damage to the body in the form of dents? Is the paint job scratched, faded or peeling? Do your lights have any broken lenses? What is the condition of your tires? Is there still good thread left? Inside the car you will need to check for any tears in the upholstery and cracks in the plastic. Is everything in working order? Are there any missing knobs or latches? Does your air conditioning blow cold air and your heater work? Does the headliner sag? Do you have any cigarette burns in the upholstery or carpet? Note anything you find wrong with the car.
Now you are armed with the basic information you will need. You have several resources available for your use.
Edmunds.com offers a True Market Value tool that is very user friendly. Armed with the knowledge of the particulars of your vehicle, it will compute three different values for any vehicle: Dealer Trade-In, Private Party, and Dealer Retail. Once you have these values, make a note of them, but don’t stop here.
Kelly Blue Book also has a tool that will help you determine the asking price for your vehicle. Kelly Blue Book value is perhaps the best known by the consumers. It is used by lenders and insurance companies to determine loan values and replacement values. For years this was the only value used by the automotive industry and lenders and insurers. Consumers were not allowed to have access to the “Blue Book” value information.
Today most of the automobile industry uses the values determined by the N.A.D.A., which stands for National Automobile Dealer Association. On their website you can get trade in value and retail pricing, with adjustments for mileage and options. This is where all of your preparation comes in.
Now you have pricing information from three different sources. In theory, the prices from all three should be pretty close to each other. Just remember that these prices are only guides to start the pricing process. At best, you have gotten a range in prices to use to sell your vehicle.
Searching the classifieds of the local newspaper or craigslist online will be further research into local pricing for your vehicle. You can also visit local car dealers and get an idea of what similar cars are bringing.
With all of your information gathered, you are now ready to decide how you are going to try to sell your vehicle. Are you going to be replacing your vehicle with a new one, a used one, or just selling it? How quickly do you need to sell it? Do you still owe money own the vehicle? Trading the car in on another one will bring the least amount of money. And if you still owe money on the vehicle, the payoff of your loan, will be added to the cost of the new car.
Usually you might be able to get more money for the vehicle by selling it to an individual. However, you have to take into account the time it will take to sell your car yourself. And it is more difficult to market the car to a large audience. If you still owe money on the vehicle, do you know the process of paying off the loan and obtaining the title from the bank?
Whichever method you decide to use to sell your vehicle, the preparation work that you have done will benefit you. You have a very good idea of the true fair market value of your car and, now, can negotiate with confidence to ensure you get the price that you need out of your car.