Man Looking at Woman in CarFinding a car’s true value is not as hard as you might think. You do need some basic information about the vehicle, but once you have it you can quickly determine the value of your car. Knowing this value is very helpful if you are trying to sell your vehicle or if you are determining how much auto insurance you need to cover your vehicle or provide a replacement.

What Do I Need To Know To Determine My Car’s Value?

There are several pieces of information you will need to determine a car’s true value. One is the vehicle identification number or VIN. It is located on your dashboard near the bottom of the windshield on the driver’s side or on the driver’s side door post. This 17-character combination of letters and numbers tells everything about your vehicle, including make, model, year and even the date and place of manufacture.

You will also need a list of your car’s features, especially if any have been added “after market.” If you upgraded to the premium sound system when you bought the car, for example, you will need to know this to fine-tune your vehicle valuation.

Finally, you need the mileage on the vehicle. It is also helpful to have a car history, especially if the car has been involved in any accidents.

I Have The Car’s Information; Now What Do I Do?

Once you have collected all of the information about your car, it is time to begin the valuation process. There are several websites that can help you do this, although you can also do it “by hand” with the Kelley Blue Book. Whether you do it online or by hand, using a standard valuation tool such as Kelley Blue Book is very important.

Begin by looking up the make, model and year of the vehicle. This will give you a general range of values. Add on prices for any options present on your car: sound systems, upgraded tire packages, sunroof, spoiler, or other add-ons can significantly increase the value of your vehicle.

Finally, make a determination of the vehicle’s condition. Most cars are valued as excellent, good, fair or poor. Excellent means no visible damage and no problems with the working of the car, as well as a spotless interior. Good means normal and expected wear and tear and working systems. Fair means some damage to the exterior or interior or some slight problems with the car’s operation. Poor means significant body damage or a poorly running engine. Be honest as you evaluate the car’s condition; remember that what someone else is willing to pay will be based on the car’s overall shape.

You will find that Kelley Blue Book and other valuation tools usually offer you three different values: retail, trade-in and private sale. Retail is the price you can expect to pay for a similar vehicle on a car lot. Trade-in value is what a car dealer will usually pay you for your vehicle when you buy a new one. Private sale is what a person is usually willing to pay for your car in a private sale. This value is usually higher than the trade-in price.

How To Raise Your Car’s Value

Now that you have a general figure in mind, it is time to see how you can raise the value of your car for either sale or trade in. Some simple tricks will help you maximize the value of your vehicle prior to a sale.

  • Clean it up. A surprising number of people attempt to sell a car that is dirty or scratched when these things are easy to fix. A car’s appearance has a great deal to do not only with how many people are willing to purchase it but with its ultimate value. Wash the car, wax it, fill in scratches with an over-the-counter product and vacuum the interior. Your efforts will pay off in a higher price for the car.
  • Use multiple sales venues. Try advertising in a variety of places to get the most offers, including newspapers, online and by placing a sign in the car with an email or telephone number to contact.
  • Make minor upgrades. Do not put a great deal into fixing up your car if you are going to sell it. However, buying new tires or having a professional touch up the paint may go a long way toward selling your car for top dollar.

With these simple techniques, you can value your car honestly and sell it for top dollar, whether you trade it in or sell it privately. Just remember that you do not want to put money into the car that you will not realize when you try to sell it.