How to Value Your Car and Come Up with a Selling Price

value your car

There is not really such a thing as the right price. After all, everything you need is only one buyer. You may even find one even if you overprice your car. However, car market these days is very liquid and transparent. There is an abundance of listings online available to everyone. So that car your are selling will be exposed to all that competition. If you overprice your car, you will miss out on potential buyers and loose time. If you price it too low – it will sell fast, but you will loose money. So how do you value your car then? The idea is to find an optimal price that will give you a higher chance of finding a buyer in the reasonable amount of time


It’s been said that finding the right price to sell a used car is an art. Anyone doing so needs a perfect blend of both research and intuition. If you set the right price then you will easily and quickly get the full value of your car. But if you set the wrong price you’ll have to wait weeks or even months to get a call from someone interested in buying your used vehicle.

So when it comes to setting the right price for your used car, you need to set a competitive price with one that is on the high end of your price range. Doing so allows room for negotiation while still giving you plenty of opportunity to settle on a great price that offers you a good chunk of cash. One of the easiest ways is to decide on a price you want to end on, and then work backwards.

For example, if you want $5,000 from your car, then list it at $5,750. When it comes to luxury or more expensive cars, you will want to leave even more room. For example, to get to $15,000, list your car at $16,500.

The good news is you don’t have to go at this alone, there are numerous resources and tools that can help you find the pricing sweet spot so you walk away with a good chunk of change for your used car. Here is a nice quick guide to help you step-by-step with this crucial process. For more detailed information and to learn how Driveo determines car values, explore our Common Sense Method for Vehicle Valuation.

Consider the Current Market

How in-demand is your car? Are you able to ask top dollar for it? Is this the best time to sell it? Here are a few rules that might help you best answer those questions.
Family sedans: Sure these cars are pretty boring to car enthusiasts, but they are in constant demand by people who need the most basic, effective form of transportation.
Sports car or convertible: To get the price on these cars, it really depends on the seasons in which you are selling. Selling in the fall and winter (if you live outside of San Diego or other warm city) may take a little longer.
Trucks or vans: These cars are often used for work and consistently sell for competitive prices. Be sure you sell accordingly and don’t underestimate their value.
Collector cars: These take a little longer, so don’t be in a rush to sell. Not only are these tricky to price, but they also take longer to sell. However if they are in pretty good shape, these cards can yield great prices. Just be patient and wait for the right buyer.
You will also need to take into account any and all other market conditions that may have an impact on your used vehicle. For example, if your car is a hybrid or has good fuel economy and gas prices are currently high, then you are more likely to find interested buyers. Similarly, if gas prices are at an all-time low then you could sell your SUV fairly quickly.

your car for sale

Check the Pricing Guides

You can used Kelley Blue Books, Edmunds, and other market guides to determine the fair value of your car. True Market Value and Kelley Blue Book prices are adjusted for things such as condition, color, options, mileage, and even region of the United States. It’s important to understand that the prices listed in these books are transaction prices – not asking prices. The price is where you will want to end up after negotiations so be sure to start higher than what these guides give you. Also, don’t forget to look at multiple pricing guides for the sake of comparison.

Check out Your Competition

You are going to want to review prices on sites like Craigslist, eBay Motors, Auto Trader, Yahoo and others to determine if your asking price is within the general rage of the competition. Most of these sites offer advanced searches to allow for finding matches even closer to your vehicle so you get a really good comparison. Remember, however, these numbers are simply asking prices, not the selling price of the cars, so they could simply be “wishful thinking” for the private seller. You will want to compare the cars’ condition, geographic location, gas mileage and other factors to guide you in setting your own price.

Price Your Car Competitively

After checking out the competition, definitely price competitively, but remember to leave a little negotiating room so you don’t have to take a huge loss to actually get a sale. You can even consider the psychological aspects of car buying and do a price like $9,900 instead of $10,000 or $19,900 instead of $20,000. Car dealers readily use this method by ending the prices on their lots in “9.” Of course, you’re a private seller, not a car dealer, and you don’t want to look like a car dealer, so instead of doing the “9” approach, you might try something different like $12,750 or $12,500.

While it’s important to price your used car competitively, don’t be afraid to have a firm pricing strategy along with pricing your car a little higher. This is especially true for cars that are in great condition with low mileage. Take advantage of the fact your car is in high demand.

Trust your Intuition

Once you’ve done your homework, it’s time to trust your gut. If you already know your car is desirable or have had comments made to you about how great your car is, then you can price accordingly. Remember to err on the side of caution when asking for too high of a price. You could go low until you start to get callers and then adjust the price and go slightly higher as the demand increases. However, don’t go too low to start because people will call and want to buy it immediately!

your car for sale

Research Equals Reward

The more you do your homework, the more likely you’ll get the asking price you want. Whether you’re selling a Honda Civic or a 1964 Studebaker Avanti, pricing takes time and research. If you do your homework well, you will sell your vehicle and make the most money doing it! There is another way for you to value your car. It is called Driveo. At Driveo, we can save you all that time that goes into the research to value your car. It takes only minutes to find out how much your car is worth. Everything you need to do is to fill out a quick form and get your appraisal numbers in minutes. As a buyer you have 3 main options when it comes to selling your car – sell it yourself, trade it in, or sell it directly to a car buying service or a dealership – many dealers will buy your car even if you do no buy one of theirs. So Driveo will quote you 3 numbers – your cars’s value if you want to sell it yourself, trade in value and the Driveo number – this is the price we can buy a car form you instantly. Our numbers are never automated. Our experienced appraisers value each car individually based on the current market, not just book values. Our proprietary system analyzes current and recent listing for similar cars, sold prices and time it took to sell, market saturation and recent wholesale transactions to come up with numbers that reflect your car’s value. Our service is completely free and you owe it to yourself to value your car with Driveo because very often book values that are readily available online many not reflect your car’s value accurately. Consider these 2 scenarios when book values can be wrong:

Books Can Value Your Car too Low

Car market is very liquid and prices can change very often because the market is localized and book values often do not take that into account. For example, at any given point of time certain models can sell out in your local market. That means that your vehicle is popular but there is no enough cars to fulfill the demand, so the value of your car is actually higher and you can sell it for more.  At Driveo, we take that into account, so that you do not undersell your car and get the most money out of it.

Books Can Value Your Car too High

In an opposite scenario, your local market can be saturated with cars for sale that are similar to yours. In this case, you have to price your car cheaper for it to sell. Otherwise, you risk loosing time and effort and having to lower the price anyway. The standard question private sellers often ask – I priced my car according to the book value, why is it not selling? Considering that your car is in decent shape, the answer may be that there are too many similar cars competing with yours. We often see this with models that rental companies carry. Very often rental car companies liquidate their fleet and that drives prices down. We have seen that happen to Nissan Altimas recently – book values are at least $2,000 higher than factual prices that late model Altimas are selling for. The reaosn to that is that most car rental companies started selling their fleet and that drove prices down.

Lesson Learned?

Let professionals at Driveo value your car and save you time and money along the way! Start HERE.

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