How to Compute a Used Car Resale Value

Written by barb nefer
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How to Compute a Used Car Resale Value
Your used car's condition affects its resale value. (yellow car, a honda Japanese sport car model image by alma_sacra from

You should know your car's resale value before you put it on the market. It won't sell if you price it too high, and you'll lose profit if you set the price tag too low. The right amount varies, depending on where you live, the car's condition and whether you are selling it to a private person or dealership, but you can easily compute an average price.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Evaluate your used car's current condition. Its resale value is offset by its mileage, any mechanical work it might need or interior and exterior damage. Be honest in your assessment and list repair costs to deduct from the car's value. Buyers will expect you to give them a price offset for problems and imperfections.

  2. 2

    Look up your car's value on the Kelley Blue Book and National Automobile Dealers Association websites, recommends the Used Car Tips car buying guide. KBB and NADA are accepted authorities on used car pricing. They provide values for private sales, wholesale and retail. Enter your car's make, model, options and other information on their websites, then choose the price that aligns with your car's condition. Use these numbers as a baseline value.

  3. 3

    Search online inventories for several local dealerships and find out what they are asking for similar vehicles. Dealers price their cars higher than private sellers so this will give you the high end of the price range.

  4. 4

    Look up similar vehicles in the local market in newspaper classified ads and websites like Auto Trader and CraigsList. These amounts may vary from the KBB and NADA prices because some markets tend to have higher or lower values for particular vehicles, according to Philip Reed, a senior editor at Edmunds, an automotive research site. Remember most sellers leave some negotiation room in their listed price so the cars are probably selling for a lower amount. This will give you the mid-range value for you vehicle.

  5. 5

    Bring your car to several local dealers and ask how much they would pay for it in an outright purchase, professional negotiator Karla Emerson recommends. This will give you the low-end resale value.

Tips and warnings

  • Car dealers usually give you less money for a trade-in than you could get by selling your car privately. Some pad the trade-in amount but charge you more for the new vehicle to offset this. Negotiate the new car price and trade-in separately to avoid this, Joe Wiesenfelder of advises.

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