5 Easy Steps to Assess Your Car’s Worth


If you’ve been thinking about selling your car any time soon, and you’ve never gone through the sales process with a vehicle before, then there are a number of things that you need to think about.

In addition to understanding that car sales is a notoriously cut-throat business, and those who are more experienced will take advantage of you if they get the sense that you don’t really know what you’re doing.

Car salesmen typically have a ton of tricks up their sleeves, and a lot of them can be adapted when the roles are reversed and it’s you who’s trying to sell. It’s important to go into the negotiations well prepared and with the right kind of knowledge to make sure you don’t get ripped off.

And so one of the most essential things before getting started is to know the real value of your vehicle. If you familiarize yourself with what factors into the value of a car and do a thorough assessment of yours, you can recognize when you’re being manipulated.

I should say that not everyone you deal with is going to be a hustler, and you shouldn’t try to be rude or aggressive, but you also don’t really know who you’re going to be dealing with and you want to make sure that you are a step ahead.

So let’s look at 5 easy steps to assessing your car’s worth:

Step 1: Check The Car’s Condition

This is arguably the most important thing because the condition of the vehicle is going to be very obvious to anyone you are trying to sell to, and they are almost definitely going to want to test drive it.

So you need to consider a number of different things here. First of all, you need to check the car for damage, and you also need to think about the damage history. If there are any dents, scratches, tyre issues or mechanical issues, then get those fixed ASAP.

Noticeable problems will decrease the value and probably deter a lot of people so make sure it’s in top shape. The buyer will be looking for a lot of very specific issues so be sure to check everything. There are of course certain things which can’t be fixed, such as the car’s age and its mileage.

You have to know these details and be upfront with the buyer about them and the damage history too. A car with more time on the road has more wear and tear and if you any more than 60,000 miles after five years of ownership, you can consider that a lot of mileage.

Step 2: Research Market Fluctuations

No matter how valuable the model of your car was when you bought it, the market is always in a state of fluctuation and it could be substantially less valuable than it was back then. You have to research and find out about that when assessing.

This isn’t to say that it will always be less valuable, your car might be a rare model now and that can increase the worth, but it can also of course go the other direction too. If an upgraded and improved model has since been released, chances are the one you have is discontinued.

This will make it rare, but it is unlikely to work in your favour unless the upgraded version is notoriously defective or disappointing. There are other contributing factors to these market fluctuations too.

The economy has a tendency to be unstable, and car prices often have to be adapted in order to accommodate it when it’s weaker. There is also the fact that technology is steadily advancing and it affects cars in a big way.

Your car could have been revolutionary at the time, but now it might be lacking in some vital pieces of technology that a buyer is almost definitely going to be looking for. So these are things which need to be factored in.

Step 3: Gather Relevant Documentation

If you enter into negotiations without a number of different certificates and documents, it is going to be difficult to convince the buyer that your car is as valuable as you are claiming it is. That will be an immediate red flag for them.

What kind of documents are we talking about here? You need verifiable service history. Cars should be serviced roughly after every 12,000 miles and so you should have corresponding certificates for the amount of mileage on the car.

Lacking this will just make it apparent that you didn’t take proper care of the vehicle and there could be some serious problems which are set to boil over at any second. You’ll also need ownership history where it’s relevant.

Generally the number of owners will decrease the value by a bit, but if you can prove the car is in good shape then it doesn’t have to be too much. You should also think about insurance, and be able to verify that you did have the car insured while it was in use.

Make sure that you do have evidence of all relevant insurance. Whether it was just you, or if there were others regularly driving it. Different insurance will be necessary for teenagers for example.  

This will just be further proof for the buyer that you were serious about taking care of the vehicle. 

Step 4: Learn About the Local Market

Market fluctuations are generally somewhat universal, because the best car brands are internationally recognized and will upgrade and introduce new models on a global scale. Your local market is also relevant too though.

Some models will be worth more in certain cities than they will in others. If you’re selling a convertible for example, that is going to be much more valuable in a city by the beach or with a warmer climate than it will be in the mountains.

A jeep is going to have more value in a mountainous or forested region than it will in a metropolitan city. And also, the local economy will be specific to where you are, so you should find out about general car trading in the area and compare the prices to your value assessment.

Step 5: Utilize Value Assessment Sites

Only you can do the best value assessment because it’s your car. You know the history of it, you’re the one familiar with any problems it’s had and you can check it for damage. But it’s still worth using some websites dedicated to value assessment.

There are some great ones such as KBB and Edmunds, and I would recommend just filling your details into a few of them to see what kind of assessment you get. You might have missed something that they will pick up on, or you might realize you’ve been thinking about certain things the wrong way.

So there are an awful lot of factors to think about, but it’s important for you to be honest with the buyer and to also be able to pick up on when they’re trying to pull the wool over your eyes. Follow these steps and you should be well set up for negotiations.