How To Determine Your Car’S Value

As a car owner, determining an accurate value for your vehicle is an important skill. Whether you’re looking to sell your car or trade it in for an upgrade, knowing how much it’s worth will ensure you get a fair deal. There are a few ways to determine your car’s value. Still, the most common methods are checking vehicle valuation guides, looking at listings for comparable cars currently for sale, and getting an appraisal from a professional.

Check the Kelley Blue Book Value of Your Car

You should first check Kelley Blue Book ( to determine your vehicle’s fair market value. KBB is the industry leader in vehicle valuations and is trusted by individuals and businesses.

On, enter details about your vehicle, including the make, model, year, trim level, optional features, mileage, and condition. Be as accurate as possible, as small differences can impact the valuation. KBB will then provide an estimated private party, trade-in, and dealer retail value for your vehicle based on their extensive vehicle database and current market conditions.

The private party value is what you can expect to sell the vehicle to another individual. The trade-in value is typically lower and is what a dealer can expect to offer you for the vehicle on trade. The dealer retail value is the amount a dealer would sell the vehicle for on their lot. For most people, the private party value is the most relevant.

However, KBB values should only be used as a guide. The actual value of a vehicle depends on many factors, like geographic location, time of year, exact options and conditions, and current market demand for that particular vehicle. The only way to determine your vehicle’s precise market value is to have it appraised by a licensed professional appraiser or list it for sale.

Some tips to keep in mind:

  • Price your vehicle competitively based on current listings for comparable vehicles. Check vehicle listing websites for vehicles similar to yours currently for sale in your area.

  • Have a vehicle history report available. This instills confidence in buyers and can justify a higher asking price.

  • Make necessary repairs and recondition the vehicle. This can increase the value and widen the pool of interested buyers.

  • Be willing to negotiate to maximize your sale price. Do research to support your asking price, but also be realistic.

With some effort and by following these guidelines, you can determine a reasonable value range for your vehicle and price it to sell. The more informed and prepared you are, the better chance of success in getting the best possible value for your vehicle.

Get an Appraisal From a Dealership

Obtaining an appraisal from a dealership is recommended to determine an accurate value for your vehicle.

Check Recent Sales of Comparable Vehicles

Research recent sales of vehicles comparable to yours to establish a price range. Look for vehicles of the same make, model, year, trim level, mileage, and overall condition. Check vehicle listings on sites like Autotrader, eBay, and Craigslist to find comparable cars currently for sale or recently sold in your area. Make a list of the asking and selling prices to determine an average price range for your vehicle.

Schedule an Appraisal at a Dealership

Make an appointment with appraisers at several local dealerships that sell your vehicle’s make. Ask if they charge for appraisals and if the fee can be applied toward a trade-in or sale if you decide to sell them your vehicle. Have service records, the vehicle history report, and any notable features of your vehicle on hand. During the appraisal, point out any repairs or reconditioning that have been done. Be prepared to take a test drive with the appraiser.

Consider the Appraisal Offers

Compare the appraisal offers to the private party and trade-in values from online price guides and the recent comparable sales you found. Dealership appraisals may yield a more accurate value for your specific vehicle. An appraisal in the lower end of the range suggests you may get a better deal selling the car yourself. An appraisal at the higher end means trading in or selling to the dealership. Use the appraisal offers to determine a realistic asking price if selling the vehicle privately.

Check Recent Listings for Comparable Vehicles

To determine an accurate value for your vehicle, check recent listings for comparable models currently for sale in your area.

Check Vehicle Listing Sites

Visit Autotrader, eBay Motors, and Craigslist to find comparable vehicles currently listed for sale. Search for vehicles of the same make, model, year, and trim level and with similar mileage within 50 miles of your location. Note the asking prices for each comparable vehicle and how long they have been listed. Vehicles that have been listed for a longer period may sell for less.

Check Kelley Blue Book

Kelley Blue Book (KBB) is a trusted resource for determining a vehicle’s fair market value. Enter details about your vehicle, like the make, model, year, trim level, optional features, mileage, condition, and recent reconditioning or repairs. KBB will provide an estimated value for a private party sale, trade-in, or dealer retail. The private party value will be the most accurate for a direct sale to a buyer.

Consider the Condition

The condition and features of your vehicle will significantly impact its value. If your vehicle is in average or rough shape, you may need to price 10-25% below the KBB private party value or recent comparable listings. New tires, brakes, a recent tune-up, or other reconditioning can help increase your asking price. Rare or desirable features like leather seats, a sunroof, or a navigation system can also boost value by 5-15% for the right buyer.

Set a Competitive Price

Based on the research from vehicle listings and KBB, determine a competitive yet realistic asking price for your vehicle. Price it on the higher end of the range if it is in exceptional condition for the model year and mileage. Be prepared to negotiate to a fair price that reflects any needed reconditioning. Price your vehicle competitively and be willing to compromise, and you’ll have the best chance of finding a motivated buyer and achieving the best deal.

Consider a Private Party Sale for the Most Cash

Selling your vehicle privately typically generates more money than trading it in or selling it to a dealer. When you sell privately, you remove the middleman and sell directly to an interested buyer. This allows you to negotiate the best price for your specific vehicle based on its condition, mileage, model, make, and current market value.

1. You’ll need to determine your vehicle’s current market value to determine a good asking price for a private party sale. Check vehicle valuation guides like Kelley Blue Book (, National Automotive Dealers Association (NADA) Guides (, and vehicle listing websites. Enter details about your vehicle, like the make, model, trim level, mileage, condition, and optional features, to determine a good asking range. Price your vehicle at the higher end of the range to allow for negotiation.

2. Once you determine an asking price, thoroughly clean and detail your vehicle inside and out. Take high-quality pictures of your vehicle from multiple angles, clearly showing imperfections. Be transparent in your listing about any repairs or reconditioning needed. Price your vehicle competitively based on listings for comparable vehicles in your local market.

3. Advertise your vehicle on websites like Autotrader, eBay Motors, Craigslist, and local Facebook Marketplace groups. Be available to show your vehicle to interested buyers, accompanied by a friend or family member. If buyers have proof of insurance and a valid driver’s license, let them test drive the vehicle.

4. Be prepared to negotiate to get the best offer. Do some research on any offers to make sure they are reasonable before accepting.

Once you accept an offer, complete the necessary paperwork to transfer ownership and registration properly. A private party sale typically yields 10-30% more than trading in your vehicle. With time and patience, you can maximize your return when selling your vehicle privately.

Explore Cash for Cars Programs for a Quick Sale

Exploring cash for cars programs is an option if you need to sell your vehicle quickly. These programs work by purchasing your car outright for cash, usually at a lower price than a private sale. However, it provides a fast, convenient way to sell without the hassle of dealing with potential buyers or marketing the vehicle yourself.

Assess your vehicle’s condition and market value to determine if a cash-for-cars program suits you. Check vehicle valuation guides like the Kelley Blue Book (KBB) website to estimate a fair price range for a private sale. Cash for car offers will likely be on the lower end of that range due to the convenience factor. If maximizing your profit is most important, a private sale may be better. However, read on if a quick, straightforward sale is your priority.

Once you explore cash-for-cars options, research local and national companies that purchase used vehicles. Major companies like CarMax, Autonation, and local independent buyers are good places to start. Check each company’s website for an initial offer for your vehicle. Provide details about your vehicle, such as the make, model, year, trim level, mileage, condition, and any reconditioning needed. Be sure to note any major accidents or issues in the vehicle’s history.

Schedule in-person vehicle appraisals with a few top offers. An appraiser will inspect your car to confirm its condition and potentially revise the initial offer. Be prepared to negotiate to get the best final price. Ask about additional fees like title transfer and towing costs to understand your full payout.

If satisfied with an offer, the company will have you sign over the title and tow your vehicle away, usually within a business day or two. They handle necessary paperwork like the bill of sale and title transfer documents. The cash payout is often available immediately via cash, check, or direct deposit.

Selling to a cash-for-cars program provides a quick, hassle-free way to sell your used vehicle, even if you receive a lower price than a private sale. For some, the convenience and speed of the transaction outweigh maximizing the profit. Evaluate your priorities and needs to determine if this option is right for you.


Whether you’re looking to buy or sell, determining your car’s value is critical to getting the best deal. Check multiple vehicle valuation sources, examine recent sales of comparable models in your area, and honestly assess your car’s condition. While the process may require time and effort, the potential savings or higher selling price will make it well worth it. Knowing the value of your vehicle puts you in the best position to negotiate from a place of strength and confidence. With this knowledge, you can buy or sell your car knowing that you’re getting a fair deal.