How to Ensure Accurate Pricing with a Used Car Price Guide

February 16, 2012

A used car price guide is the best starting point for used car valuation, but it shouldn't be the last word without considering other key factors.

An Online Used Car Price Guide

A used car price guide is an essential tool in finding a value that is fair for both the car buyer and seller. Luckily, there are a number of free resources that can be used to help you determine a satisfactory price. While price guides can give you a general idea of the value of a car, there are a number of different factors to consider when trying to accurately determine the price.

  • Start your search by consulting one of the establishing used car pricing websites. Kelly Blue Book and N.A.D.A.are both trusted resources for getting up to date pricing information
  • While these sites are a good starting point, the values assigned aren't always reflective of what a particular vehicle may actually sell for. One factor that can push prices either up or down is the time of year. Convertibles, for instance tend to command more money during the summer months. Major service intervals (timing belts, for instance may need to be replaced every 60,000 miles) that have yet to be performed should also lower the price accordingly
  • Cars with cult followings (muscle cars and vintage sport cars are excellent examples) will usually be worth more to enthusiasts than a buyer simply looking for a means of transportation. Sellers of these cars are generally aware of what they have, and buyers can expect prices to be a little higher because of this
  • Reputation will also affect cost. Vehicles labeled as unreliable will lose their resale value more quickly than those that tend to last hundreds of thousands of miles with routine maintenance. Also, a car with a documented maintenance history should immediately be considered more valuable than one without. It can be very comforting to know your potential investment has lived its life in good hands
  • One way to get an accurate idea of what a certain make and model may be worth is to check what similar cars are selling for. This is when it can be quite helpful to reference a number of Internet sources to gauge the local climate. Check CarsDirect's updated database of used car listings to see how much your car of choice is going for
  • Once you have viewed enough listings to observe a trend reflecting how mileage and condition will play with value, you can begin to consider a realistic budget

Try to not become obsessed with finding the perfect price for the perfect car. If you find yourself too concerned with finding a dream price, your search may go on much longer than originally anticipated. All things considered, a car is worth what you feel it is worth. Factors such as collectability, resale and utility make this different from individual to individual. It's important to keep in mind that there will always be another example of what you are looking for. With a little time, patience, research and luck anyone can find the perfect car.

Used Car Price Analysis

There are many factors considered when a dealer presents their used car price. Some use guides that are based on a used car price formula. This formula usually has a base value of the particular car, and adds or subtracts value depending on conditions such as options and mileage. Here are a few factors which have to be considered when trying to estimate the value of a used car.

Popular Options
Since most people prefer an automatic transmission, it is understandable that a vehicle equipped with one will command a higher price. Some other popular options that help to increase the value of a used car are: leather interior, power operated equipment (seats, mirrors, etc.), automatic climate controls or convenience options (cruise control). Some options do not always affect the value of a used car. These include certain audio options and wheels.

Location
Another factor that will affect a vehicles value is the area it is being sold in. For instance in places like southern Texas, pickup trucks will have a higher value, because they are in higher demand there. In areas where snowfall in winter months is a common occurrence, 4-wheel drive or all-wheel drive vehicles command a higher price. In cities, smaller cars that get good mileage and are easier to park are in higher demand.

Age and Mileage
The conditions that affect the price of a used car more than anything are age and mileage. Cars, like anything mechanical have a limited lifespan. The older a car is the less it is worth, unless it was a limited production model. High mileage will diminish a car's value. The normal engine in a car will only drive so many miles before it needs major repairs. Even if the car is a newer model, if the mileage is high its price will be lower.

Estimating a cars value can be a complicated procedure, because there are many factors involved in the process. A good rule of thumb to remember is, "Anything used is only worth what someone else is willing to pay for it."

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