How Much Is Your Vehicle Worth?

By Tammie Jo , last updated October 13, 2011

How much your vehicle is worth depends on several factors. The age, mileage and condition of the car or truck are the main consideration, but “worth” of any object is defined by how badly someone wants it and how much they are willing to pay. The same care can be worth different amounts depending on if you are using it as a trade-in, selling it directly to a private party or of it is being sold by a retailer. Whether or not the car is rare, antique or highly desirable for other reasons also plays a part in determining the vehicles worth.

Resources such as the Kelley Blue Book or the NADA Guide can help you estimate your vehicle’s value. You can access these resources either online or in print. Typically, you calculate your car’s value by finding the specific make, model and year in the guidebook or by entering the information into an online calculator. The more miles your car odometer has on it, the less value the car retains. Condition also plays a role, and being honest about your car’s condition when you estimate its value may help you avoid disappointment when it’s time to negotiate for a new vehicle. Some guides offer information that can help you determine if you car qualifies as excellent, good, fair or poor. It may also be helpful to include your location because some cars are more or less desirable by region.

Your car’s highest value is its private sale value, the amount you could probably sell it to a private party for. Its lowest value is the trade-in value, the amount a car lot will likely offer you as credit toward the price of a new car. The middle price is the retail price, or what it might cost if you found the exact same car for sale on a dealer’s lot.

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