How Much Is My Car Worth?

How Do I Sell It At The Best Price?

Where Do I Sell My Used Car?

by Cheryl Levy

You want a new car. Only problem is you want to know, “How much is my car worth?”

Some Carjojo customers have asked if we can help them sell or trade-in their old vehicle. While we don’t purchase or provide an appraisal service for trade-ins, we can offer you advice to help you choose the best way to dispose of your car and get the most money for it.

There are a number of factors to know before we address your questions – how much is my car worth? Of course, the trade-in value (a.k.a selling price) of a used car depends on the vehicle’s make, model, mileage, condition, features, add-ons, and even its color, and you can’t change those things. But who you’re selling it to makes a difference too, and you have complete control over that.

You want a new car. Only problem is you want to know, “How Much is My Car Worth?”

How Much is My Car Worth?”

To get the most money for your old car, there are two price points to be aware of:  

Retail Price

This is what a buyer typically pays to purchase the vehicle from a car dealer.

Wholesale Price

This is what a dealer will typically pay for the vehicle.

Obviously, you want the highest amount possible when you trade-in or sell your vehicle. Because the dealer needs to turn around and sell the car to another party for a profit, this wholesale price is lower than the retail price.

How much is my car worth? As a very loose rule of thumb, the difference between the wholesale and retail prices for a given vehicle is roughly based on its original selling price:

Vehicles priced below $40,000

The wholesale price may be about $2,000 – $3,000 lower than the retail price.

Vehicles priced above $40,000

The wholesale price can be about $3,000–$4,000 lower than the retail price.

To get the highest price for your current car, make a note of the wholesale and retail values before going to a dealer. A dealer should offer you something close to the wholesale price. If the a dealer offers a lot less, try to negotiate for a higher price, or try another dealer.

If you decide to sell the car yourself, use the wholesale-retail scale above to decide how to price your car. Of course, the closer you price your car to retail, the longer it will take to sell. Conversely, the closer you price your car to the wholesale price, the quicker it will sell.

It’s important to research your vehicle’s value. You’ll have a better idea of what to expect with each of the selling options reviewed above. Here are two ways to find out the value of your car. To be most informed, use as many of these resources as you can, and document your findings to back up your negotiations

Check KBB.com, NADAguides.com, and similar websites and compare their value estimates for your vehicle.
Search classified-ad sites like Craigslist for models just like yours listed for sale and see what other people are selling similar vehicles for, bearing in mind variations in condition, mileage, features, and so on.  

5 Places to Sell Your Old Car and Their Pros and Cons

Trade your car to the dealer at time of purchase

It is always your prerogative to negotiate the value of your trade-in. Just be sure to negotiate the old car’s value separately from, and after you have agreed to, the price of the new car you’re buying.

Pros

This is by far the most convenient and least risky option. The dealer will apply the value of your old car toward the purchase of the new one. You do minimal prep work and paperwork – the dealer is set up to do all that.

Cons

The dealer will value your trade-in in the wholesale-price range.  You’ll probably get a fair price. Since it will be wholesale it’ll be less than you will get selling your vehicle any other way. There are exceptions when a dealer will offer more than wholesale.  For instance, if you are trading in a recent-year vehicle that is the same brand as the car you are buying, that car may be easier for the dealer to sell and he may offer a higher price.

Sell the car yourself on Craigslist or another classified site.

Pros

You’ll get more money for your car than trading in, possibly near the retail value – and there are many such sites to choose from.

Cons

Get ready for a time sink. You’ll need to create an ad, take photos of the car, and, depending on where you live, get the vehicle inspected or smog checked.  You will need to interact with multiple potential buyers who will inspect and test drive the vehicle. And buyers may negotiate the price with you or may fail to show up at all. Also, remember there’s always some risk involved in meeting a stranger to conduct a financial transaction. Know a few safety tips for selling a car on Craigslist and the like.
Also, you will be taking a lot of money from the buyer. So you have to have a mechanism that minimizes the likelihood of fraud. Cash or cashier’s check are the traditional ways. Another significant concern is if something goes wrong with the car after you’ve sold it and the buyer comes back to you.

Sell the vehicle on a classified car lot.

Here your car is physically on a lot and buyers can inspect the vehicle. In this case, the owner of the car lot will take a portion of your car’s selling price. An example is Wheelsanddeals.com. When you get to the lot as the owner of the lot “How much is my car worth?”

Pros

It’s less risky than selling the car directly since you don’t have to interact with buyers. Depending on the lot, they may offer services such as detailing and smog inspections.

Cons

You’ll get less for the car than you’d get selling it yourself. Also, unfortunately, this option is not available in all areas.

Sell to a used-car dealer or other dealer than the one you are purchasing your new car from.

Pros

It never hurts to know “the market” by taking your car to others dealers and comparing price quotes. They may offer a slightly higher price than you’d get from the dealer selling your new car.

Cons

Whatever price advantage you get by selling to one of these dealers probably won’t be worth the extra effort of getting other quotes.

Sell the car using a “peer-to-peer” car-selling website.

Pros

You’ll get more money for your car than the dealer wholesale price.  The sale shouldn’t take much effort on your part. This might be your best balance of effort vs. price — as long as you choose a reputable site.Vroom, Shift, and Carvana are examples of used-car internet sites.

Cons

Peer-to-peer sites are not available throughout the country.  And, of course, you’ll get less for your car than if you sell yourself – yourself.

Over To You

Now that we help you get closer to knowing “how much is my car worth?” we recommend selling the vehicle yourself. It’s a lot more work to sell the vehicle yourself. However, that is the best way to get a better price for it. Only you can decide if the extra effort is worth the higher sum you’ll get for your car. If you’d rather opt for the convenience of selling it for a little less money, consider selling it to a dealer. 

What are your best tips on selling a car yourself?