Sell a Car: Valuation Guidelines for Proper Pricing

April 6, 2012

Accurate used car valuation goes beyond looking a car up in the Kelly Blue Book. Learn how to factor in other variables, such as condition and demand.

Car Value

Finding proper used car valuation information is important when buying or sell in a used car. There are many factors that contribute to the value of your car and for some of these factors it is difficult to attach a standard pricing system. If you are thinking of selling your car or looking to buy a used car you need to know the approximate value of the vehicle.

Where to Look for Valuation Information

There are many different places to look for valuation information. Many of these guides can be easily found online. One of the most popular and extensive valuation guides is the Kelley Blue Book. If you provide a Kelley Blue Book value for your vehicle, potential buyers will be able to check your quote. This company has become the standard for used car values.

You find the value of your car based on the year it was manufactured, the manufacturer and the model. Other information needed is the style of the car such as a sedan, coupe, pick up, hatchback, wagon, SUV, van or minivan, convertible or luxury. The different options you have on your car or the customization will also influence the price. The engine, mileage, your geographic location, transmission, drive, safety features, roof, steering and A/C are important.

Pricing Information

For used car valuation there are several prices you want to consider: a retail price, trade-in price and private sale price. The retail price is the price you would pay for the used car if you bought it at a used car dealership. A trade-in price is the price of the vehicle if you were going to trade it in when purchasing a new car. The last price, the private sale price, is the expected value of the car if you sell it yourself.

Condition of the Vehicle

The condition of your vehicle is very important. There are four different classes. A car that is in "excellent" condition will look new, will not need to be reconditioned and is mechanically excellent with no issues. The title history will be clear and the car will pass any inspection. Not many vehicles, under 5 percent, are listed as excellent.

Most used cars will be labeled in "good" condition. Good implies that the car does not have any major issues or defects. There may be some minor blemishes on the body and interior but the mechanics are all good. A car in "fair" condition will have some cosmetic and mechanical defects. However a servicing will normally take care of these issues. Most issues include replacing the tires and rust damage.

A car that is labeled as "poor" will have major cosmetic and/or mechanical problems. The car may just barely be running and some of the problems cannot be easily fixed. If you find your car is labeled as poor, look into the cost of repairing it versus the value of the vehicle. It might need to be labeled as a "junk" car.

Current Demand

The cars in demand currently will also have a higher selling price than those that are not. When the market is favoring environmentally-friendly and hybrid vehicles, you will have difficulty selling a gas guzzling SUV and will need to reduce the price. However if you are selling a "green" car you can inflate the price because of the high demand. Additionally, if your car is rare and hard to find, then the selling price can be higher because you will have multiple people interested. This is very much the case for classic cars.