How Much is My Car Worth?

We all have been on the buying or selling end of a vehicle sale at one point in time or another. I personally always leave the situation feeling as though I may have gotten the short end of the stick. The reality is that cars depreciate faster than almost any other commodity, except maybe computers. As soon as we drive away from the car dealership, our vehicle starts losing value. That brings us all to the question, “How Much is My Car Worth Now?” Many factors determine the value of a vehicle.

You have to realize that things are only worth what people are willing to pay. The general rule of supply and demand is always present, even when you deal with automobiles. I have heard about every reason in the world for why a vehicle may not be worth as much as you think. “It is wintertime, and no one is buying convertibles right now, so the car just isn’t worth as much.” “You added a stereo system that isn’t a manufacturer standard, so even though you paid $4,000.00 more for the system, you actually decreased the value by $2,000.00.” “We just aren’t buying SUVs right now because gas prices are too high. Everyone is buying fuel economy cars.” You name it, dealerships will come back with every reason not to give you what you think you deserve for your vehicle.

This comes back to the real question. If you go to four different web sites, and plug in the model, make, year, mileage, and features of your vehicle, you will get four different estimates of what your vehicle is worth. Each of these web sites is based on average sales, and people’s opinions. Although you will never get the exact price of what your vehicle is worth, these sites will at least allow you to get an idea of the ballpark range of what you can ask. You should also look at ads to see what other people are asking for on your model. But, no matter what the price is listed on the site, be prepared to get less.

The exception to this is if you buy vintage, antique cars. You may get more for these vehicles because fewer of them are in supply. If you can find an antique car in good condition, and people are bidding, they may really want that particular model and pay more. Besides the example of antique cars, most cars depreciate every year and every mile added onto them. The first year, you will lose the most value on your vehicle. For this reason, financial advisors like Dave Ramsey will tell you to never buy a new vehicle. Cars depreciate so much in price that you can buy an older “beater” model and save a lot of money.

Another factor to consider is whether or not your particular model has been redesigned since you bought your vehicle. When Lexus, for example, stopped making the LX 470, and started making a newer version as the LX 570, the LX 470 automatically went down in value by at least $10,000. Most people want the newer, cutting edge vehicles, and when newer models in different body styles are manufactured, the older models are not worth as much. You would think that this wouldn’t be the case. A lot of people loved the boxy versions of Volvo’s cars, but when they came out with a sleeker, rounder design, the boxy versions seriously lost value.

The key to determining the value of your car is to do a lot of research. Go to several web sites and input the key information about your vehicle. Look in newspaper, magazine, and on-line ads to see what similar vehicles are going for. The key is to be realistic. Unless you keep the same vehicle in perfect condition for 100 years, you will never get more for it than you first paid.


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