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Whether you are trying to sell your old car or figuring out if the price you are being quoted on a used vehicle is fair, finding out how much a car is worth is often necessary. While you might think the process is excruciating, in reality it is easy to get an accurate sense of a car’s value especially if you know what to look for and where to find your information.
How to find out how much a car is worth
Step 1: Figure out all the details on your car. The only way you are going to find out how much your car is worth is by knowing all the relevant facts about your car.
The most important pieces of information are the year, make, and model. For example, if you have a Ford Focus that was made in 2011, your car is a 2011 Ford Focus. The year is probably the most obscure detail here, so you might need to consult your manual or your records to figure this out.
Another valuable fact about your car is its trim. Trim is a specification that refers to the different features, both exterior and interior, your vehicle has. On the 2011 Ford Focus, for example, the options are: S, SE, SEL, and SES Sedan.
Sometimes the trim is noted on the vehicle itself. Still, many car owners may be unsure about this point, so either consult your manual or do a little online research based on the known features of your car.
You can look up the features (spoilers, navigation system, backup camera, or heated seats) of certain trim models associated with your car’s year/make/model and decide which trim you have accordingly.
Finally, you should determine the mileage on your vehicle. This is a significant determinant of your car’s value. Check the odometer on your instrument cluster to figure out your mileage.
Step 2: Determine the condition of your vehicle. Another important part of finding out a car’s value is getting an accurate assessment of its condition.
The four common categories here are: fair, good, very good, and excellent. Obviously, these terms are quite subjective and susceptible to interpretation.
Excellent condition generally means your vehicle is like new. There are no cosmetic blemishes, the car is working excellently, there are no leaks, the interior is not damaged, the tires are like new, or the car has a clean title.
A fair rating, which is at the opposite end of the spectrum, has essentially the reverse of each of these qualities. The vehicle has lots of dings and cosmetic issues, there are lots of needed services or leaks, the interior has damage well beyond normal wear and tear, the tires needs replacing, or there are title concerns.
If you car has some combination of these various qualities, it is likely you’ll have a car in good or very good condition.
Make an honest determination about what condition your car is in so you’ll know exactly how much it is worth.
Step 3: Use a resource to calculate your car’s value. Unless you are an expert, you are going to need some assistance determining the car’s value, so use a resource to help you here.
The easiest option is simply to use an online tool. A great option is Autotrader. Their Value My Car tool allows you to input all the relevant info and get an assessment of value instantly.
If you want a tool that takes a few minutes longer, try Kelley Blue Book’s online car value estimator. The upside of this tool is that it allows you to be very thorough in adding in extra features to your car, and it also has a condition quiz you can take to more accurately determine what condition your vehicle is in.