Used car values are based on the accessories and features installed on the vehicle, as well as the mileage, age, condition and current demand for that particular make and model. In addition, current gas prices affect used car values, according to Popular Mechanics. For example, lower gas prices may lead to more demand for less fuel-efficient vehicles resulting in higher asking prices for SUVs and trucks. Conversely, an increase in gas prices results in higher value being placed on small economy cars.
Thus, pricing a used car to buy or sell involves a bit of research to find the current market value. Fortunately, several reputable companies consistently research current prices and provide the information free to consumers. For example, Edmunds Inc., Kelley Blue Book and the NADAguides provide online databases where you can obtain the latest market values for used vehicles.
The company Edmunds Inc. began publishing automotive pricing guides for consumers in 1966 . With the arrival of the Internet, Edmunds.com took shape to provide pricing information online. The site is free to consumers. You can look up used car values that are based on what your particular type of vehicle is selling for at dealerships and through private-party sales.
Kelley Blue Book
The Kelley Blue Book is a trusted source in the industry for finding used car values. The term "Kelley Blue Book" is a registered trademark that traces its history back to the Kelley Kar Company that opened in 1918. Today, the Kelley Blue Book guides are available for free on the company's website. You can obtain values for specific makes and models of vehicles based on any special features the car may have, the current mileage and overall condition. You can also find out the value of the vehicle in private-party sales and what to expect when trading the car in to a dealer.
The National Appraisal Guides Inc. operates a website that provides information on used car values called NADAguides. Just like Edmunds and the Kelley Blue Book, you can look up information on trade-in values for specific types of vehicles. The site will give you prices for rough trade-ins, average trade-ins and clean, or above average condition.
If you want a good estimatation of how much your used car is worth, use all three of the sites and average the prices. For example, when comparing trade-in values for a 2010 Jeep Liberty Sport four-wheel drive vehicle with standard equipment, 100,000 miles, in good overall condition, the three sites return different values. Edmunds was the lowest, giving the Jeep a $7,504 trade-in value. The Kelley Blue Book value was $9,959 and NADA valued the vehicle at $9,875.
CarsDirect.com, another popular site notes that the Kelley prices are typically higher than Edmunds because its prices lean more toward the dealer value.
You can also find out the current value of a particular type of used car by visiting a website where live sales are listed. One popular website where buyers and sellers meet is AutoTrader.com. On this site users enter the year, make, model, mileage and features of the vehicle and the software tool returns values based on Kelley Blue Book assessments. The site also allows users to look at actual vehicles for sale across the nation to compare the prices of particular makes and models.
As car values vary by geographic region, be sure to include your ZIP code when checking current prices through online sources.
- Autotrader: Used Car Pricing: How Do You Know if the Price Is Fair?
- Consumer Reports: Understanding Used Car Values
- Edmunds: Frequently Asked Questions
- Kelley Blue Book: About Us - The History of Kelley Blue Book
- NADA Guides: FAQs - Frequently Asked Questions
- NADA Guides: NADAguides.com Media Room, NADAguides Overview