Car Value Calculator: Find Resale and Trade-In Values (2024)

How Much Is My Car Worth?

The amount you can sell your car for depends on several factors. Even though many dealerships and car value authorities use similar information to determine offers, estimates and value ranges, different dealerships and private buyers may offer you varying amounts for your vehicle.

What Affects a Vehicle’s Value?

Below, we’ll cover the primary elements that determine your vehicle’s value.

Vehicle Age

The general rule is that as your car gets older, it becomes less valuable. This doesn’t apply to vintage or classic cars that gain value for their restoration and rareness on the car market. In most cases, cars that are past three to five years old are more likely to have mechanical problems and suffer breakdowns from use over the years. They also typically lack the most up-to-date car technology that newer models have.

Make and Model

Luxury brands demand higher prices when they’re bought new. Similarly, when you sell a car from an automaker brand known for its luxury vehicles with great parts and special safety features, you’re more likely to demand a better price from prospective buyers.

Car brands that have high dependability can also fetch higher prices because they’re less likely to have mechanical problems. According to the J.D. Power 2023 U.S. Vehicle Dependability Study℠, the top three most dependable car brands are Lexus, Genesis and Kia. If you own a car from one of these brands, for example, you may be able to get more when selling it.

In terms of model, some cars are built for leisure and speed while others are built to hold more or haul heavy materials. Often the price you can sell your car for depends on what a buyer is looking for.

Vehicle Condition

If your car has suffered multiple mechanical problems in the past or shows signs of corrosion, paint reduction or environmental damage, you may not be able to sell your car for a top price. It’s important to keep your vehicle as clean, dent-free and mechanically sound as possible before selling. If your car has mechanical problems, try to resolve these issues before putting it on the market.

How You Choose To Sell

When it comes to how you sell your vehicle, you have several options. You can choose to sell your car to a dealership, an auto marketplace or a private buyer. If you’re looking for a new car or want to upgrade, consider using your car as a trade-in. However, the method you choose to sell your vehicle can impact your potential selling price.

According to J.D. Power, trade-in values for used vehicles tend to be lower than a given car’s potential market value. This means that you’ll get less money trading in your car to a dealership than you would by just selling it outright. This is typically because a dealership has to put a lot of work into your traded-in vehicle to resell it.

Similarly, cash and other purchase offers from dealerships may be lower than a car’s expected market value. Dealerships often make offers that fall below potential resale value to ensure they recoup expenses and make a profit.

While private buyer-seller transactions can vary significantly, this option allows sellers the most control over the ultimate purchase price and other transaction details.

Current Market Prices

No matter how much you may love your car, most buyers won’t pay you more than the current market value of your vehicle. Whether you choose to trade your car in or sell it to a dealership or private buyer, having an idea of current market prices for similar vehicles can help you set realistic expectations and help with sale negotiations.

Car Value Calculator: Find Resale and Trade-In Values (5)

Prepare yourself for the car buying or selling process by looking at appraisal values and car value calculators from trusted sources. Photo: Kurhan – stock.adobe.com

Average Car Values

If you’re looking to buy or sell a vehicle, it helps to have an understanding of reasonable prices in both used and new car markets. We’ve provided some average prices for cars below.

New Car Values

According to Kelley Blue Book (KBB), car shoppers paid an average of $48,344 for a new car in July 2023. As more buyers return to the market, sellers are ramping up incentives and inventories are stabilizing, making now an excellent time to consider purchasing a new vehicle.

Dealers and manufacturers are offering higher incentives in 2023 for select types of vehicles. This year, the highest incentives and discounts include those offered for high-end luxury, hybrid and electric vehicles. Fewer or lower incentives are offered for full-size luxury SUVs and sports cars.

Used Car Values

CarGurus notes the average car price for used cars is $28,664 as of October 2023. The company also observes that prices for used cars are trending downward, with auto markets beginning to stabilize after pandemic-related fluctuations.

See how average used car values vary by body style below:

Used Car Body StyleAverage Price
Hatchback$16,569
Wagon$19,253
Sedan$20,782
Minivan$22,158
Crossover$24,828
Van$30,125
Pickup$36,420
SUV$37,208
Coupe$37,236
Convertible$51,830

*Prices updated on October 26th 2023.

How Do Car Appraisers Calculate Car Value?

Appraisal authorities like KBB, Carfax, dealerships and others use a variety of elements to calculate your car’s value ranges. Depending on the appraisal authority, they may look at things like your vehicle’s:

  • Make, model and year
  • Features, add-ons or trim
  • Color and condition
  • Body style and mileage
  • Optional equipment
  • Current retail value
  • Market trends
  • Location

These appraisal sources also look at the current market values of vehicles similar to yours and the typical car prices in your geographic location or ZIP code. Who the car is being sold to also makes a difference — private buyers or dealerships?

Benefits of Knowing Your Car’s Value

Understanding the value of your vehicle can help you determine your net worth when necessary and prepare you for several other situations.

Selling Your Vehicle

Having a clear picture of your car’s value will help you get the best price possible when you decide to sell. Knowing this information beforehand will also save you time on research and vehicle appraisals.

Trading Your Vehicle

Looking for a new car doesn’t mean you have to lose out on your current car’s value. While trade-in offers from dealerships and auto marketplaces are typically lower than others, knowing your car’s anticipated trade-in value can help you negotiate better terms.

Insurance Buying and Claims

If your car has a potential for high-value resale, you’ll want to keep it adequately insured. When you know how much your car is worth, you can make informed decisions regarding your policy coverage, deductible amounts and more.

Additionally, knowing your car’s market value can help you determine whether repairs are a worthy investment in the event of an accident or insurance claim.

Refinancing

When considering your eligibility for auto loan refinancing, lenders will weigh the appraised value of your car against any remaining balance on your existing loan. You may qualify for improved loan terms if your vehicle’s value significantly exceeds the remaining amount on your loan. However, if you’re upside down on your loan, or owe more than the car is worth, you may have some difficulty refinancing.

How To Find The Value of a Car

No matter why you need to know your car’s current market value, you can take a few steps to get a well-rounded estimate.

#1: Gather Information About Your Vehicle

Whether you’re considering a formal appraisal or want to reference online guides or valuation tools, you’ll need some information first. Start your research by gathering information about your car, including:

  • Make and model
  • Model year
  • Vehicle identification number (VIN)
  • License plate number
  • Mileage or odometer reading
  • Trim style
  • Additional features or improvements
  • Details about its current condition

#2: Consult Established Guides and Estimators

As a starting point, you can cross-reference some well-established car value guides, authorities and estimators. These sources provide varying levels of information about trade-in, resale and private seller values for thousands of different cars. We’ve listed some of the most popular resources below.

GuideResources
Kelley Blue Book (KBB)Price guide that calculates values with proprietary software using data from across the automotive industry
National Automobile Dealers Association GuidesProvides data on millions of car sales as well as historical valuation data for vehicles
Consumer ReportsOffers ratings and pricing information for new and used cars as well as guides for improving your car’s value
EdmundsDisplays ratings, in-depth vehicle information and resources for auto buying and selling
J.D. PowerProvides in-depth research on consumer satisfaction with vehicles, plus detailed car reviews and ratings

#3: Use Online Car Valuation Tools

Car value calculators use automotive market data and your vehicle’s information to provide estimated trade-in values, private seller values and even dealer resale values for that vehicle. You’ll be asked for information including the VIN or license plate number, trim level, mileage, color, condition and more.

Our team recommends saving any estimate you receive and comparing it against estimates or offers from dealerships, private buyers and even other car valuation calculators.

Other Car Valuation Tools

Other types of car value calculators may help determine how much you can sell your car for:

  • Depreciation calculator: Demonstrates how your car may decrease in value over time
  • Scrap or junk calculator: Estimates how much you can receive for your junk or inoperable car
  • Totaled car value calculator: Provides estimates of a totaled car’s worth to compare with an insurance company’s total loss car value
  • Diminished value calculator: Estimates how much a car’s value decreases after an accident

#4: Research Market Prices

You can round out your idea of your car’s value by closely examining current market prices for similar vehicles. Be sure to check both dealerships and private seller marketplaces like Autotrader for price ranges.

#5: Get a Formal Appraisal

As a final step, you can request formal appraisals and offers from dealerships, private buyers and online auto marketplaces. You aren’t obligated to purchase after your appraisal and can compare offers to receive the best price.

Remember that offers and appraisals are typically conditional. If you add too many miles to your car, wait too long or damage your car after your appraisal offer, it may no longer be valid.

Terms To Know When Determining Your Car’s Value

While researching your car’s value, you may come across terms like the ones below.

TermMeaning
DepreciationThe rate at which a vehicle loses value over time
Dealer resale valueThe amount a dealer may be able to sell a used vehicle for
Certified pre-owned valueThe value of a used car backed by thorough inspections, repairs and typically a warranty or service contract
Trade-in valueThe amount of money a dealership or auto marketplace will pay towards the purchase of a new vehicle in exchange for your existing vehicle
Private-party valueThe typical price sellers can expect to receive by selling to a private buyer
Actual cash valueThe value of the car in its current condition if sold immediately

Tips To Get the Most Value for Your Vehicle

Ready to look at selling or trading in your vehicle? Below, we cover how to get the most out of the process.

Car Value Calculator: Find Resale and Trade-In Values (6)
Research the best places and times to sell your vehicle before committing to one option. Photo: Feodora – stock.adobe.com

Where To Sell

After learning the value of your vehicle, it’s time to decide where you’d like to sell. Dealers and car buying services like Carvana can save you time on the sales process, but you may get a better selling price on private buyer/seller markets like Craigslist or Autotrader. Read more about your options below.

Dealers and Car Buying Services

Dealers and car buying services are the most accessible option when it comes to selling your vehicle. Thanks to partnerships with buying services and financial institutions, these companies can often make instant offers for your vehicle and provide perks such as free pickup or delivery services and in-place inspections.

However, dealers and car buying services typically purchase cars intending to resell them. This means they may make an offer for your vehicle that’s below the market price in order to ensure they can make a profit.

You can work with local brick-and-mortar dealerships or compare offers from online services. Our team recommends considering both as part of a well-rounded selling process.

Private Marketplaces

Private buyers typically pay fair prices for safe, operable vehicles. Sometimes, private buyers may also pay more for junk or inoperable vehicles if they’re looking for spare parts or want to do personal repair projects.

Note that selling on private marketplaces may increase the potential of scams and poor offers. Never disclose personal information on private seller marketplaces and always meet potential buyers in safe, public locations.

Junkyards

If your old or inoperable car isn’t catching the attention of dealers, car buying services or private buyers, you may need to consider your local junkyard. These services will tow your car and sell it for parts, providing a guaranteed turnaround, even if not the most profitable one.

When To Sell

The next question many first-time sellers have is when to sell their vehicles. The answer varies based on factors like the car’s features and history, plus the owner’s personal goals.

If you want to get the most out of your new or used vehicle resale, consider selling it when it has the most value. Don’t wait too long for the right offer or your car’s value may depreciate considerably.

Another aspect to consider is repair costs. If your car requires work, weigh the cost of those repairs against the vehicle’s overall value. If the cost of repairs exceeds your car’s value, it may be time to sell or consider trading up.

How To Prepare Your Car for Sale

Whether selling or trading your car in, you’ll need to prepare it for the process. Consider these steps a guideline for prepping your car for sale:

  • Clean out your car. Remove any personal belongings, documents and other items before thoroughly cleaning the interior and exterior.
  • Make any necessary repairs. If your car needs new tires, brakes or other reasonable repairs, complete these to increase your car’s selling potential and value.
  • Collect required documents. Ensure you have the valid title and any applicable lease or loan information handy before requesting offers or listing your vehicle.
  • Pay off existing loans if possible. If you owe on your car loan or lease, consider paying off these amounts first to streamline the selling process and increase your short-term profit.

Car Valuation Calculator: The Bottom Line

To get an accurate view of your car’s value, compare values and offers from multiple car buying guides, dealers and private sellers. This view can help you determine where and when to sell your car and what steps you’ll need to take to get the most out of the transaction.

Recommended Online Car Selling Companies

If you’re ready to sell your car, our team recommends comparing offers from local dealerships and buyers with those from Cars.com and Peddle.

Cars.com: Editor’s Choice

When selling your car to an online car buying service, we recommend beginning your search with quotes from Cars.com. Cars.com buys cars directly, offers private sale options and accepts trade-in vehicles in fair to excellent condition. The company provides decent instant offers that are good for 72 hours.

Keep reading: Cars.com review

Peddle: Good Choice for Older Vehicles

If you’re trying to sell an old, inoperable or junk vehicle, Peddle should be your first online stop. The company specializes in buying old or junk cars from sellers and provides instant offers valid for up to seven days. Peddle also has positive customer feedback on the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and Trustpilot.

Keep reading: Peddle review

Used Car Value Calculator: FAQ

Below are some frequently asked questions about calculating car values:

The best way to understand the value of your car is to compare values and offers presented by dealers, private buyers and reputable car buying guides like Kelley Blue Book (KBB). Consider as many offers and estimates as possible to understand the range different buyers may pay and what factors into those decisions.

Cars depreciate in value over time and have the most value within the first five years of their manufacture date. To maintain your car’s value and resale potential, keep your vehicle in the best condition possible by staying ahead of maintenance and repairs.

Depreciation rates vary based on several factors, but most drivers can anticipate around a 20% drop in their new car’s value within the first year of ownership. That value could reach as much as 60% within the first five years, according to KBB.

Our Methodology

Because consumers rely on us to provide objective and accurate information, we created a comprehensive rating system to formulate our rankings of the best platforms to sell your car. We collected data on several providers to grade each company in five key areas. The end result was an overall rating for each provider, with the car selling platforms that scored the most points topping the list.

Here are the factors our ratings take into account:

  • Industry Standing: Our research team considers ratings from industry experts and years in business when determining this score.
  • Platform: Platforms that offer a variety of features, including instant offers and multiple sales options, are more likely to meet consumers’ needs.
  • Cost: To compare providers’ average offer prices, our team conducted a secret shopper analysis for a variety of vehicle types. We also considered the fees companies charge to use their platforms.
  • Support: Car selling companies that offer strong transaction support received the highest scores in this category. This includes offerings like free pickup service as well as how quickly you receive your payment.
  • Customer Experience: This score is based on customer satisfaction ratings on the BBB and Trustpilot as well as our team’s experience reaching out to each platform.

*Data accurate at time of publication.

If you have feedback or questions about this article, please email the MarketWatch Guides team ateditors@marketwatchguides.com.

Car Value Calculator: Find Resale and Trade-In Values (7)

Daniel RobinsonWriter

Daniel Robinson is a writer based in Greenville, N.C. with expertise in auto insurance, loans, warranty options and more. Away from the keyboard, Daniel spends time with his wife and son, plays guitar and obsesses over the Beatles and Baltimore Orioles.

Car Value Calculator: Find Resale and Trade-In Values (8)

Rashawn MitchnerManaging Editor

RaShawn Mitchner is a MarketWatch Guides team senior editor covering personal finance topics and insurance. She’s spent over a decade writing and editing articles about how to save money on things including travel, entertainment and household services.

Car Value Calculator: Find Resale and Trade-In Values (2024)

FAQs

What is the best way to determine my cars value? ›

First, check several car pricing guides, like Kelley Blue Book (KBB) and Edmunds. Then, cross-reference those prices with Carvana or Carmax. Craigslist can also be an invaluable resource to see how car prices fare in your area.

How do you predict the resale value of a car? ›

The exact appraisal amount will change based on local market conditions, the dealer's inventory, and their ability to resell the car. To understand the value of your car, take it to multiple used car lots to see what they will give you for it. This will help you understand the high- and low-end values for your car.

How do you determine the fair value of a used car? ›

Cars, trucks, vans, motorcycles, recreational vehicles, motorboats, and planes are included in the category of motor vehicles. To determine the fair market value of vehicles, the worker must use the trade-in value as shown in either the Kelley Blue Book or the National Auto Dealers Association (NADA) Used Car Guide.

How do you determine the value of a trade-in? ›

The initial valuation
  1. Make and model.
  2. Trim level and options.
  3. After-market upgrades.
  4. Mileage.
  5. General condition.
  6. Regional demand and recent retail and wholesale prices.

What is the most accurate site for car value? ›

Kelley Blue Book (KBB)

Kelley Blue Book, known as KBB, is a trusted name in automotive valuation. With a vast database and an intuitive interface, KBB enables users to accurately estimate the value of new and used vehicles.

What is the best company to value my car? ›

An HPI car valuation provides the most accurate and reliable car valuation available.

What is the formula for resale value? ›

Starting off, we'll calculate the depreciation factor, which equals one subtracted by the depreciation rate, raised to the power of the number of years that the product was used. Given depreciation factor, we can calculate the resale value by multiplying the original purchase price by the depreciation factor.

What affects the resale value of a car the most? ›

Many factors figure into the value of a used car, but mileage and condition are the most important. After that, options, location, and color are influencing factors.

What is the black book value? ›

The Black Book value is essentially the wholesale or auction value of a car. Black Book sources pricing data from both wholesale auctions and actual vehicle transactions from across the country.

Is Edmunds or KBB more accurate? ›

Many experts believe Edmunds' values are more accurate than KBB's. That's not always the case, of course, which is why getting several estimates and averaging still makes the most sense.

Are nada used car values accurate? ›

How Does NADA List Prices of Cars in Their Guide? Representatives of NADA promote their guide representing it as the strongest, most valid, and most reliable information list of auto market values when compared to the KBB guide, and even Edmunds pricing guide.

How do you tell if a used car is worth it? ›

What to check when buying a used car
  1. Research used car ratings and rankings. You should also research the make and model's general history. ...
  2. Give the car a quick look for issues. ...
  3. Take the car on the road for a test drive. ...
  4. Inspecting a used car with a trusted mechanic.

How do you determine fair trade value? ›

Find out a vehicle's fair market price at www.edmunds.com, www.nadaguides.com or www.kelleybluebook.com. You can also check publications at a library or bookstore.

What is the formula for calculating trade? ›

To calculate the balance of trade, you would subtract the value of a country's imports from the value of its exports. If the result is positive, it means that the country has a trade surplus, and if the result is negative, it means that the country has a trade deficit.

How to calculate the trade price? ›

The average trade price is calculated by dividing the total sum of all trades conducted within a specified period by the total number of trades executed during that same duration.

Where can I find the best value for my car? ›

Since 1926, Kelley Blue Book has been one of the most trusted names in the auto industry. You might say we literally "wrote the book on car values". And today there's no better place to find the value of your current car than KBB.com.

How is vehicle value calculated? ›

Actual cash value (ACV)

It is determined by the replacement cost of your vehicle minus depreciation, which considers things like age and wear and tear.

What is the fair market value of a car? ›

Fair market value is the price at which the vehicle would change hands between a willing buyer and a willing seller.

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