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How to determine the value of your car

By Tom Fraser, 01 May 2020 Car Advice

Valuing your secondhand car

Let’s walk through a number of ways you can accurately determine the value of your car

For all its upsides, one of the most depressing parts of car ownership is the fact that it doesn’t hold its price when you try to sell it on the other side.

Add to that, the fact that each car is different, in varying states of condition and some cars are in higher demand than others; they're all factors that make determining the value of a car difficult when it comes time to sell.

This is part of the reason why many choose to trade-in their car to a dealer and take a hit on depreciation

car for sale

Read next: Should I trade in my car?

But there are ways that you can make the sale of your used car easier while getting as much as possible back from your initial purchase price.

Book value

People will often tell you to check the redbook.com.au value of a car which is an online database that reports on used car prices, containing most cars over the past half-century.

The problem with redbook.com.au, though, is that it might set you on the right path for a select few cars, but in reality, the divide between what redbook.com.au says a car’s value is and what they’re actually selling for is wide. 

Do your homework

One of the best ways to determine your car’s value is to search classifieds for similar car listings to yours, noting the price, odometer, condition, service history, extras/options and aftermarket accessories.

From there, you can use your judgement to guide you towards a fair price for your used car. It’s not an exact science, but it does get you within the ballpark. 

Read next: How to prepare your car for sale

Classifieds websites tend to offer an instant, online valuing service if you want to get more tailored advice, but a better bet is to get an independent valuer to come and assess what you’ve got.

Toyota Corolla mazda 3

Know your market

You also need to 'read' the market and get an understanding of just how many similar cars are for sale, and whether yours is any different.

In a space where many other cars of the same type are available, you may need to adjust your expectations of the price you can ask.

Conversely, in situations where your car is unique and desirable, you may be allowed a little more freedom in pricing your car.

The often-heard remark of those refusing to budge on price: “I know what I’ve got”, if genuine, can be valid in certain circumstances.

Read next: How to write an effective used car sale ad

How to write an effective used car sale ad

Insider's tip for selling your car

When it comes to selling your car, the best advice from our inside man is to care for your ride.

"The best advice is to look after your car. Keep it clean (inside too) and regularly serviced. The money spent in these areas will mean you can actually get top dollar when you trade it in," says our former dealer snout.

I"t's a spend versus reward situation. Give it a clean, sure, but don't pay for it to be done.

"If the tyres are legal, go with it. Dealers will calculate tyres in the appraisal and most likely be able to buy a new set for less than what the average punter could."

Pricing a used car is a balance between hard facts and instinct. If you can combine both by first researching what comparable cars are priced at, but then fine-tune those prices dependent on your car’s condition, model year and kilometres, you’ll be a lot closer to the true value of your used vehicle.

NOW READ Confessions of a car dealer: top tips for getting the best price