The value of a car is important for most drivers. Whether you want to buy or sell a motor, or just make yourself feel better (or worse!) about how much it’s worth, knowing a car’s value is vital. It’ll enable you to confirm that a car you’re buying has been fairly priced and know that you’re not losing precious pounds on one that you’re selling.
But as few car owners work in the motor trade, what’s the best way to calculate your car’s value? Happily there are many tools available to help with this. Read on to find out how to value any used car.
Car value: try sales or auction sites
If you’re selling a car privately the most popular place to do it is via Auto Trader or eBay, as they have by far the largest audiences. That means by browsing both you can find similar cars to yours and see what they’re selling for. And eBay will even show you what they actually sold for, not just the advertised price. Be sure to search for the correct model and specification or you won’t be getting representative prices.
As it’s been going for nearly 30 years, Auto Trader has gathered an extensive amount of data so it makes sense that it offers a free valuation tool online. This is in conjunction with valuation company Glass’s and although it doesn’t cost anything, it is very basic at the moment. The data is based on cars currently for sale as well as historical prices so it’s up to date and you are given a private and part exchange valuation.
Along with Glass’s, CAP is the industry standard for pricing vehicles. Most dealerships will consult either or both when offering you a price for your car. This is also where the data is sourced for Parkers and What Car?. CAP’s online valuation tool provides a basic private sale guide price and you can upgrade for £3.95 to get a trade-in price for different vehicle conditions and also a basic breakdown of running costs. The Parkers tool is much the same but the free valuation covers dealer plus private and part exchange prices and you can adjust for mileage and options by paying a £3.49 fee.
Car buying websites
You should also try at least one car buying website. Although WeBuyAnyCar.com is the most vocal, there are a lot out there. They work by offering an initial web valuation for your car based on your description of its condition. If you go ahead, you take it to their depot where they check to see that it meets the description and hand you the money. Their online valuation tools are sophisticated enough that you can add any damage that your car has and it adjusts the valuation accordingly. It’s best to get values from more than one company because you’ll find that the prices can vary quite dramatically.
How important are condition, specification and miles?
The condition, spec and mileage are the main things that determine a car’s used value. You might be able to kid a computer, and even yourself as you sit in the comfort of your armchair; a dealer won’t be quite as charitable. If the valuation tool you’re using has the ability to take damage into account, be honest. Otherwise, after inspecting the motor a trader will only deduct money to have this fixed.
Equally, Auto Trader’s valuation tool gives you a very realistic price on cars for sale, but it is worth noting that this is based on a standard specification vehicle. If your car has desirable options or a luxurious trim level it may be worth more.
How to find the value
Once you’ve been to these various sources, take the values from the valuation sites such as Auto Trader and CAP, add them together and take an average. Then do the same with the car buying website prices. This will give you two prices. The value of your car should fall somewhere between these. The reason for doing this is the car buying site prices are likely to be lower and could skew the result. Equally, if your car is a bit tatty, they might be the more accurate price. Now it’s up to you to decide what kind of condition your car is in. Just remember by being optimistic, you’re only kidding yourself.