A Guide to Car Appraisal | Credit Karma

Maybe you’ve fallen in love with a used car and want to buy it, or maybe you’re planning to get rid of your own vehicle. In any case, your next step should probably be to figure out how much those wheels might be worth.

If you’re buying, selling, or trading in a car, a car appraisal can give you an idea of ​​what the vehicle is worth. learn more about your pricing options so you can decide which one best suits your needs.

  • what is a car appraisal?
  • factors that affect the appraisal of a car
  • where can I get a car appraisal?
  • what is a car appraisal?

    Also known as an appraisal, an auto appraisal assigns an estimated dollar value to a vehicle. There are a few situations where you might consider an appraisal:

    Reading: How to review appraisal for car

    • when you plan to buy, sell or trade in a car and want to estimate the fair market value of the car
    • to put a dollar value on a car when considering an asset in a divorce, bankruptcy or probate
    • if you plan to buy or sell a collector car
    • factors that affect the appraisal of a car

      Many factors can affect the value of a car, including make, model, age, wear, body damage and optional features. here are some additional factors that can affect a car’s appraisal.

      1. how the buyer plans to use their car

      “A buyer’s plans for their car could play a big role in determining the value of their car,” says Matt Delorenzo, Kelley Blue Book’s senior managing editor. “There are different levels of value depending on what you want to do with the car.”

      “A dealer who can polish up their trade-in vehicle and sell it on their lot will probably pay more than the one who will sell it at the next auto auction,” says mel yu, consumer reports automotive analyst.

      and selling to private buyers can get you the best deals because they typically don’t plan on turning around and selling for a profit.

      That’s why pricing guides will give you different values ​​for different types of sales. “trade-in value is completely different from retail value,” says matt jones, senior editor of consumer advice at

      2. mileage

      “The average driver covers 12,000 to 15,000 miles each year with the vehicle,” Delorenzo says. If his odometer is accumulating much more than that, the value of his car could suffer.

      3. your location

      As with real estate, location is important. For example, your convertible might have a higher value in Miami than in Montpelier, Vermont.

      4. maintenance

      “A dealer will often review your service records to verify that the vehicle has been serviced,” Delorenzo says. similarly, private buyers may request service records as proof that all scheduled maintenance was performed.

      where can I get a car appraisal?

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      If you’re buying, selling, or trading in your vehicle for a new car, you may want to use more than one appraisal method to ensure you get an accurate appraisal. there are several ways to get a car appraisal,

      valuation guides/websites

      Websites like edmunds, kelley blue book, or nada guides allow you to enter your car’s make, model, trim level, and year and take into account updates, mileage, your location, and estimated vehicle condition. car. once you provide all the information, you can get an instant idea of ​​book value in a variety of situations, such as trading in at a dealer or selling to an individual.

      why you might choose this option: you are buying or selling a car and want to research the fair market value of the car before visiting the dealership or listing privately.

      how you can use the appraisal: Once you have an idea of ​​what buyers in your area are paying for the same car in similar condition, you can use that information during negotiations with the dealer. car dealer. If you are selling, you can also use this information for the price of the car. but keep in mind that these appraisals are estimates.

      “An online assessment is helpful, but it’s not the gospel,” says Jones.

      Since these guides provide an estimate, it’s smart to supplement this pricing information with dealer estimates.

      cost to you: free

      dealer evaluation

      with a dealer appraisal, someone at the dealership will look at your car and tell you how much you’ll pay for it.

      and yes, you can negotiate. “never accept the first offer,” says jones. “The dealer is unlikely to give you the most value for his car on the first offer.”

      jones also suggests being prepared to explain why. “But frame it in terms of the research you’ve done on the value of the car, not the amount you need to get back,” he says.

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      Why you might choose this option: You’re thinking of selling or trading your car to another dealer and want to get an idea of ​​what dealers in your area are paying. Or maybe you want to sell it to this dealer, if the price is right.

      how you can use the appraisal: “compare the appraisal against other dealership appraisals. take it to more than one dealership,” Delorenzo says. if you only visit one dealer, “you are trading against yourself.” It’s also smart to compare these appraisals against the appraisal guides, to help confirm you’re getting accurate estimates.

      assessment of the lender

      If you’re considering financing a car outside of the dealership, your lender can provide you with an estimate of its value. banks and credit unions typically include the value of a car in their loan calculations, yu says.

      why you might choose this option: you are buying a car and getting financing through your bank or credit union. You want to know if the value estimated by your lender matches the price of the car. “If the lender says the car is worth less than the asking price, that’s a red flag,” says Yu.

      how you can use the appraisal: this information can be a bargaining tool, especially if the seller’s price is too high, or a reason to walk away from the deal.

      Cost to you: Some lenders provide a free estimate as part of the loan application process, since the approved loan amount may be determined, in part, by the value of the car

      independent professional assessment

      With an independent appraisal, a professional independent appraiser examines your car bumper-to-bumper, researches sales of similar vehicles, and assigns a value to your car. but this option is only for a few specific situations, says jones.

      why you might choose this option: you are buying or selling a collector car or need to have a value placed on the car because it is considered a legal asset in the event of divorce, bankruptcy or probate.

      How you can use appraisal: If you’re buying a collector’s car, you can use appraisal to get a better deal on the car, or just make sure it’s worth what you’re paying for. if you’re selling, an independent appraiser can certify your appraisal of the car’s value.

      cost to you: varies, but the general range is $100 to $750, says roy theophilus bent jr., executive director of the office of certified auto appraisers and certified appraiser and president of appraisers houston auto dealer.

      end result

      Doing a little research on a car’s value can help you become a smarter seller or buyer, and a better judge of whether a particular car deal is right for you. The information you get from a car appraisal can also be helpful during negotiations. And if you’re not comfortable with a seller’s or buyer’s final offer, remember that you can always walk away.

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