How Much Is Your Car Worth

Discover the benefits of getting your car appraised. Find out how to get your car appraised for free and what to do to increase your car’s value.

Buying a new or used vehicle is expensive. While cars are initially quite valuable, the overall value depreciates at a quick rate. In most cases, your car depreciates nearly a quarter after a single year. After a few years, you are lucky if the resale value is half of what you paid. Part of the reasons cars depreciate more than other large purchases is how frequently new vehicles come out. Many car manufacturers release update models each year, meaning even if you buy a brand-new top of the line vehicle, it is outdated by the following year.

There are other factors that determine how much your car is worth, such as how often it is used, the overall condition and the original make and model. Knowing the value of your car is not only important for resale value, but it also lets you use your car value as potential collateral when seeking financial assistance. Everything you need to know about finding your car worth and tips to make it more valuable is covered below.

Determining the Value of your Car

There are many resources available to appraise your vehicle. Most drivers start with a free valuation website. Some of the most popular vehicle appraisal websites include Edmunds, Kelley Blue Book and Carfax. All of these resources are free and require the same basic information. If you do not know the make and model of your vehicle, you can either enter your VIN or driver’s license number to get your registration information.

Online appraisals are convenient, but they do not provide the most accurate value of your vehicle. The websites only know the value based on the original value of your vehicle versus the average market value today, but there are other factors that affect the net worth of your car. If you want a more accurate value, you must get your vehicle appraised in person. Many dealerships and some garages offer professional appraisals. The cost varies by location as well as the type of car. On average, it costs around $100 to $500 for a professional appraisal. Appraising a classical or antique car is more expensive, costing between $350 and $800 as of writing.

What is Appraised

There are several factors that go into appraising your vehicle. The biggest consideration is the make and model. Newer and more popular vehicles have a higher value. Another factor with the make of your vehicle is how many were produced. If you have a rare trim, your vehicle depreciates at a slower rate. Age and production numbers are not the only considerations. Some models use completely different parts, even if they were built in the same period. If your vehicle uses dated components, it typically decreases more in value. This is because it is harder to maintain the vehicle, since parts are either harder to come by, or in extreme cases, no longer available without consulting a specialty shop.

Another factor that determines the value of your vehicle is mileage. The higher the mileage, the less the car is worth. There is no exact formula to calculate whether mileage is good or bad, since it can greatly vary depending on the vehicle. Many appraisers consider the age of the vehicle. Most drivers accumulate between 10,000 to 12,000 miles every year. A five-year-old vehicle with 55,000 miles would be considered average, while 80,000 would be bad.

The overall condition of your vehicle is another consideration. Condition is much harder to appraise without a professional assessing your car. There are four different condition classifications, excellent, good, fair and poor. Based on data provided by Kelly Blue Book, less than five percent of all used vehicles are classified as excellent, with most being categorized as good or fair. Good and fair means you have average mileage for your vehicle, all the parts are serviceable and there is no visible damage on the car.

Increasing the Value of your Vehicle

If you are unhappy with the value of your vehicle, there are several steps you can take to increase it’s worth. A simple way to improve the value is clean your car before getting it appraised. If the paint is fading, consider applying a new coat. Getting your car clean can add several hundred dollars to the overall value. While making your car presentable, take the time to buffer out any dings or dents. The first thing car buyers check for is whether there is any visible damage to a car, using it as a negotiating point to talk down your value.

There are a few minor changes you can make to improve your car value. One easy way to increase the value is installing a new battery. On average, car batteries are designed to last around four to six years, depending on the car. A new battery is fairly inexpensive, costing under $100 for most vehicles. Not only does this increase the base value of your vehicle, but it looks better during negotiations, since you can say the car has new parts installed. Changing your oil, coolant, brake and power steering fluid are also ways to boost the value of your car.

Any upgrades from the base model all increase the total value of your car. This includes changing your headlight bulbs, installing a new sound system, adding charging ports or even getting a cup holder installed. If your car was modified by a professional, be sure to include the paperwork to backup your claims. The paperwork also gives a good indicator of how much extra you can expect to make thanks to the upgrades.

One of the most overlooked factors for car value is color. Common colors, such as white and black, are more likely to depreciate in value. Based on records from Kelly Blue Book, the vehicles that best retain their value are yellow, beige, orange and green. Color has a surprising impact on the value, with a yellow vehicle often selling for several thousand dollars more than a white, black or silver variant.