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How Much Is My Car Worth?

5 minuteNovember 22, 2021

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When you're planning to sell your vehicle, it's important to price it right. Your car's make, model and condition, plus its age and mileage, all go into determining the value. If you don't have the necessary information at your fingertips, you might find yourself spending countless hours researching your local market values.

To make the process easier, use this guide to find out how much your car is worth and what you should be asking for it.

Factors That Affect How Much Your Car Is Worth

There are several things to consider when calculating the value of your car. The most objective and likely most important factor is the mileage. Then, the vehicle history, accident reports, engine malfunctions and other reliability factors will generally play a role in the value of your car.

Mileage

As you add miles to your vehicle, you add wear and tear. The average U.S. driver puts 12,000 – to 15,000 miles on their car each year. You can find out if your car has good mileage by dividing the current odometer reading by the years since the vehicle’s production. If the average number of miles put on the car annually is above 12,000, it’s likely to be valued less than other vehicles of the same model year with average mileage. If it’s less than 12,000, the value of your car will likely be above average for the same model year vehicle.

Vehicle Age

While every make and model is different when it comes to depreciation, new cars can drop in value by more than 5% each year. Some luxury vehicles, such as the BMW M2, lose more than 25% of their value in just 3 years. In general, the older the vehicle, the less it’s worth as technology becomes outdated and the vehicle accumulates more wear and tear.

Condition Of The Vehicle

If your car has been in an accident or sustained other damage, its value can drop substantially, even if you've had repairs done to make it look and drive like new again. Any major issues with your vehicle will be reported by your mechanic or auto body repair technician so it's important to disclose these details to potential.

Any tears or stains in the seating, paint scratches, dents, or odors, including smoke damage, will decrease the value of the vehicle. That said, minor cosmetic damage is easier to repair in order to maintain the car’s value. Be sure to assess the condition of your car before pricing it.

Modifications

If you've modified your car to enhance its performance, comfort or appearance, its trade-in or resale value may be higher.

While mods such as ground lighting and window tinting can increase the value slightly, major performance-based modifications are what really make a difference. That includes engine mods such as adding a high-performance cold air intake, or appearance-enhancing mods, like tire rims, body wraps or a spoiler.

The Market

Demand for used cars can change over time and if it's a seller's market, there's a better chance you'll get a good price. For a variety of reasons related to the recent pandemic, today’s market is undoubtedly a seller’s market.

The Buyer

If you're selling to a dealership, your used car trade-in value may be less than a private-party sale value. Kelley Blue Book can provide comparative details between trade-in and private-party values.

Rachel comment: Add - Wear and tear and cleanliness-- this section is weak for long form content - https://www.kbb.com/vehicles/path/condition-quiz/?showgenericquiz=true

Projections For Used Car Values

The COVID-19 pandemic changed the way people shop for vehicles. While in 2020 the U.S. saw a substantial drop of 14.7% in new vehicle sales, 2021 had consumers rushing out to purchase used vehicles as they began returning to work. The peak in demand drove prices through the roof in the summer months.

As the pandemic slows and life cautiously returns to normal in some states, used car sales nationwide seem to be slowing, as well. Over the coming months and throughout 2022, used car prices and sales are expected to drop slightly. If you're considering selling, obtain a car valuation to determine your vehicle's fair market value and list soon.

How To Maintain And Add Value To Your Car

Caring for your car by using the right fuel, driving cautiously and performing regular maintenance can help preserve its value. Consider buying seat covers to protect the interior of your car and shampoo any fabric seats and carpeting regularly to keep that new-car smell. Speaking of which, cigarette smoke tends to embed into surfaces. Even if the smell of smoke seems faint to you, it could overwhelmingly lower the value of your car.

If your budget allows, consider making modifications to its appearance or performance features. You can boost value by improving your engine, adding all-weather tires, or by adding high-tech features to the dash, such as a dash cam or multimedia touch screen if your car doesn’t have it already. Note that permanently personalizing your vehicle with bright color trims or vinyl may improve the quality of your driving experience, but it will likely lower the value of your actual car.

The Bottom Line

It's important to understand how a car's value changes over time before you sell or shop for a used vehicle. Factors such as its condition and modifications are key in determining resale value. As of fall 2021, used car sales are beginning to slow after a busy summer, meaning now's the time to sell.

When you're ready to list, don’t leave money on the table. Make sure you understand the ins and outs of how to sell a car.

While you’re comparing offers, get an instant cash offer for your vehicle as-is from our dealer partners.

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