A car’s worth is determined by how much someone will pay for it. But, if you’re preparing to sell it, it’s crucial for you to determine the value first and foremost. Whether you’re trading the car in or selling it privately, take the means necessary to get an accurate idea of how much you’d be able to sell it for in the current market. After all, information is the key to driving a hard bargain.
Click through and learn how to determine your car’s worth before you sell it.
1. Gather the Paperwork
If you’re aiming to get the greatest value from a private sale, have all your records and paperwork in order. Since it’s possible for people to search your car’s VIN number, you don’t want question marks about your car’s background to change its actual value.
Having this information ready and accessible will only increase the perceived value of your car. On the other hand, not having it might immediately tarnish your car’s worth.
2. Repair Any Damage
The difference between the value of a car in good condition and great condition can be thousands of dollars. There’s plenty of ways to make money off of your beat-up car, and getting your car in the best shape possible should be at the top of the list.
Until your car is in great shape, you won’t be able to determine what it’s really worth.
3. Check a Car Value Estimator
Kelley Blue Book allows you to input your car’s make, model, condition and mileage. Then, it searches how much other people are selling the same listing for, what your potential trade-in value is and what you might get from a private party for the car.
4. Check a Different Car Value Estimator
To give yourself a comparison, check another car value estimator. Carfax generates an estimate for your specific vehicle, and you can search using your car’s VIN number or license plate.
The estimator searches the car’s history, mileage and any past incidents to determine a range of values. At the very least, you’ll be ready to go when somebody asks you to show you the Carfax.
5. Find the Local Price
Once you know the potential value of your car, see how much others are actually listing the same vehicle for sale in your neighborhood. Search around on websites like Craigslist for the exact year, make, model and condition as yours to get a sense of the local market. Pricing your car slightly lower than others can generate more interest.
6. See the Trade-In Value
You are unlikely to receive your car’s greatest value by trading it in. This is primarily because the trade-in price is applied to purchasing your next car. That said, it tends to be a simpler process than trying to find a private buyer, so this information could be wise to have on-hand. Visit a dealership to receive an appraisal, if you dare.
7. Get a CarMax Quote
CarMax will also make an offer that will net you less money than a private sale. But, they have an easy process to appraise your vehicle. You can take your car to one of their locations and receive a written offer that is valid for seven days.
You are under little pressure or obligation, and you can use it as a base price when you explore other avenues to advertise. If nothing else, getting a CarMax quote will give you one more price point to use — or not use — to your disadvantage.
8. Make an Estimate
The range of appraisal values is consistent with how much effort you’ll put into your car sale. You’ll often get less for an easy trade-in, but if you’re willing to take your time, post regular ads and take the time to show the car to private buyers — you can hold out for a higher price.
9. Clean It Up
Making sure your car looks its best will make it easier to earn your asking price. Get your car waxed, and give it a deep clean on the inside and out. You want a potential buyer to feel like this could be his or her car — and that means making it free of all your stuff.
Once you’ve gone through all these proper channels, and feel like you’ve done your due diligence, you’re ready to sell. If you’re selling privately, remember to check your local DMV website to make sure you’re doing everything legally.
About the Author
Max Lance dug himself out of six figures of student loan debt and travels to colleges and high schools around the country teaching people about financial literacy. He is an Amazon bestselling author whose work has been featured in The New York Times, College Humor and Credit Donkey. He is a writer, bookkeeper and financial coach who mastered credit card points and miles to travel to five continents and half of the country’s 30 MLB stadiums and 59 national parks.