How much is my car really worth?
How to value a car from your phone or computer.
As a 10-year-old boy, I was learning how to value second-hand cars with my father who owned a well-established car dealership in Bristol. Today, with decades of experience in car valuations, from old bangers to prestige vehicles, my consistent rule is that each car will have its own unique value that’s ultimately determined by how much a buyer is willing to pay for it.
That being said, there are some simple things you can do to get a true and correct car valuation. Follow along below…
Approximate vs Genuine Valuations
3 Ways to get a rough price, 1 way to get the real price
Estimated Retail Value – Autotrader
If you’re not quite ready to sell your car and want an approximate valuation head over to the free Autotrader Valuation tool.
1. Autotrader Free Car Valuation – Trade & Retail Values
The results will tell you how much your car is roughly worth. But note that this free car valuation is NOT the price you will likely sell your car for. This and all automated car valuation tools don’t account for important elements such as the general condition of your car, any faults or technical issues, how comprehensive the service records are or if the car needs additional money spent on it.
But most importantly an Autotrader valuation does not fully account for the desirability of your car.
A VW Golf 5 door hatch diesel is far more desirable than a 2.0-litre petrol saloon Kia Sorrento. The tool accounts for this fact in part but fails to accurately describe the real price you will actually sell your car for, and that’s the information you really want to know!
To proceed head over to their website and get your car valuation
Enter your car’s registration number and mileage and click the button
Next Auto Trader will show you a generic image of your car type with its make, model and other technical data. Click the button to proceed.
Now you are asked to create a free account or log into your existing account. This means you are opting into Auto Traders email sequence and will be receiving promotional emails to drive you to buy one of their ads. You can opt out at any time at the bottom of each email they send you.
Finally, you’ll get your ‘how much is my car worth‘ valuation, both private (retail) and part exchange (trade.) Remember that these prices are broad and certainly not a perfect indication of the prices you’re actually going to achieve.
Here’s a typical email you’ll receive once you create an account
2. Estimated Trade Value – Car Buying Service Valuations
Car buying services will hit you hard and give you your rock bottom trade price. But you also get a real quote.
Head over to one of the car buying services such as We Buy Any Car. This tool is reasonably good because you can get a quote on your vehicle which tells you how much you will actually get, providing the car is accurately described during your submission.
Note: This method requires your email address. You will get an instant email containing your online quote and necessary steps should you want to accept their offer. You can simply opt out of their emails immediately by looking for the ‘unsubscribe me’ button that’s usually at the top or bottom of the email. You are not obliged to sell the vehicle to the car buying service – you can simply get a car value.
3. Estimated Trade Value – Dealerships
You can also head over to a local car dealership and see if they’re interested in your car. Your result will depend on a variety of factors but most important is the desirability that surrounds your cars make, model, age and mileage. Again a vehicle like a 5 door hatch, low mileage Ford Fiesta is going to attract dealers. In contrast, a high mileage, large engine petrol car is going to have less appeal.
Note that certain car types are rare and difficult for dealers to source. I could write an entire article on this subject alone but common sense will take you some of the way. If your car is particularly low mileage, or has an unusual factory colour, or has some other elements that separate it from all of the other matching makes and models, your car may be classed as desirable. If this is the case you are in the driving seat when it comes to selling at dealers.
The main factor that categorises a car as ‘desirable’ is its make and model. Ford Fiesta’s and Volkswagen diesel are typically attractive to dealers. There are many other makes and models that fit this sought after criteria, you’ll have to do some research to find out if your car fits the bill.
But, there are some things you can do to increase your chances of getting a better price from a dealer regardless of its make, model, age and mileage:
- Make sure the car is clean and tidy (but not dripping in cleaning chemical or choking with air freshener as this tells the dealer you’ve buffed up the vehicle just to sell it)
- Insist you are only getting a price and aren’t yet sure if you want to sell
- Understand that part exchanging your car will increase your chances of selling it by 85%
- Head over to a dealer that specialises in the same manufacturers as yours
Value My Car – How much you will actually get for your car
My preferred method to find out how much my car is worth is the manual approach. This works for those that want to sell a car privately, and to do that you should be advertising on Autotrader. Check out my definitive guide for more information.
To sell quickly and for the most money, you need to advertise on Autotrader. To value your car correctly go over to Autotrader and enter its make, model, age, mileage, fuel type, transmission and number of doors. Once you’re done hit the search button.
You’re going to get a huge range of prices for cars relative to your own. Ignore the first few pages as those that have ridiculously cheap prices usually means there is something wrong with the vehicles. Most will be insurance write-offs, have mileage discrepancies or other major faults that are forcing car owners to sell well below true market values.
My rule of thumb is pages 4 to 7 (depending on the number of your car type that is for sale) will contain the approximate figures of what you can realistically expect to sell your car for. This is where your cars true valuation (the price you will actually get) will be found. Look carefully at a few of the ads, check the mileages are similar to yours, ensure the makes and models match that of your car and see if there are any disclosed faults or issues.
The first page of cars you find that are closely aligned to yours in terms of age, mileage, condition and faults is your sweet spot. This is how much you’re going to get for your car if you want to sell it within a 2 week period for somewhere near retail prices. You may possibly get more than those listed but it could take a while to achieve.
Remember that when getting a car value, and putting your car up for sale on Autotrader you want your vehicle to be in the cheapest third of all relative cars for sale. This gives you the greatest opportunity to sell up quickly and for a reasonable amount of money.
Not found what you’re looking for? Here’s some more popular car selling articles of mine:
Sell my car and Autotrader prices – A complete step by step guide to selling your car privately with Autotrader.co.uk. Use the identical approach that’s helped me sell over 5,000 used cars online.
Selling with an online buying service – The growth in car buying websites has offered a convenient way for private motorists to sell their car in 24 hours. Follow my steps to achieving the best price for your old car.
Selling at an auction – The underused approach to selling a car might be right for you. Did you know it’s possible to sell your car at an auction for more than you might via a private sale?
Selling at a local dealer – If you choose to sell to a car dealership make sure you’re prepared. My guide shows you what to look our for and how to fetch the best price.
PX Values guide – Part exchanging your car for a new one is both quick and reliable. There are a few things to keep in mind, though. Check out this guide for more information.
Processes of selling your car – Here I discuss the pros and cons of each selling method in the UK.
The Used Car Guy