Once you’ve entered your information, you will be presented with three or four automobile values: trade-in, private party, dealer retail and certified used.
“Trade-in” is what you can expect the dealer to give you if you trade in your used vehicle. This is always the lowest figure. If you want to improve on that number, there are some alternatives to trading in that you should consider.
The private-party amount is what you can expect to get for the auto if you sell it on your own. This is always a higher amount than the trade-in value, but it takes more work because you will be dealing with random offers from buyers.
“Dealer retail” is aimed at used-car shoppers. This is an average of what you might expect to pay if you bought the pre-owned car at a dealership. If the used vehicle is new enough, you will also see a “certified used” number, which reflects the higher price you’d see when shopping for a certified pre-owned vehicle.
Other Pricing Guides
In addition to the Edmunds tool, you will see other pricing guides on the web. Here’s an overview.
Kelley Blue Book Price Guide
Kelley Blue Book (KBB) is an automotive shopping site. As a company, it has been around since 1962. It is one of many tools used by car dealers to determine car values for its inventory. It also provides used-car sales appraisals and new-car buying information to consumers.
Kelley Blue Book Value vs. Edmunds
In general, you’ll find that the Kelley Blue Book values are similar to Edmunds. We don’t have access to how KBB calculates its values, but at a high level, Kelley also is paying attention to vehicle age, trim, trends in the market, features and mileage.
The “Blue Book Value”, as it is sometimes called, will vary based on the shape your automobile is in. There are four levels: fair, good, very good and excellent. Kelley Blue Book says that of the cars it values, 3 percent are excellent, 18 percent are fair, 23 percent are very good and 54 percent are good.
If you want to compare it to Edmunds values, Kelley Blue Book’s “very good” would be our “outstanding”, “good” would be our “clean”, and “fair” is our “rough”. KBB does not have an equivalent for the “damaged” description.
NADA Used Car Guide
The NADA Guide started in 1933. It provides used-vehicle valuation products and services to the auto, finance, fleet, government and insurance industries. This pricing guide is an industry tool used by many dealerships and is not available to the average person. Instead, the company created a consumer-facing website called NADAguides.
NADAguides provides pricing information to consumers for new and used cars, classic cars, motorcycles, boats, RVs and manufactured homes.
NADA Used Car Guide vs. Edmunds
The NADAguides appraisal interface differs from Edmunds in that it doesn’t ask for features. If the numbers don’t match up with Edmunds, this is likely why. NADA has three vehicle states — rough, average, clean — that seem to mirror those on Edmunds.
Getting the Most Out of the Edmunds Free Car Appraisal Tool
Earlier, we gave you a quick overview of the tool. Here’s some more detail, which will help you see why adding specific vehicle information is worth the time you put into it.
The Importance of Style and Options
After you’ve put in the vehicle year, make and model, you’ll select the style, also called the trim level. The style can refer to the type of engine, standard features or whether it has four doors. Here’s a refresher on trim levels.
Major features, such as the car’s transmission, engine type and whether it has all-wheel drive, can have a big impact on the value of the car. The same goes for options such as leather seats, navigation, a sunroof or automatic climate control. If you can remember your car’s options off the top of your head, great. If not, here are some suggestions on where to get the information you need.
The vehicle’s original window sticker is the best place to find options information. Unfortunately, few people actually hang onto the sticker. Without it, your best bet is to sit in your car and make a note of its options. If you’re using a smartphone, tablet or laptop (assuming you’re within Wi-Fi range), you can complete the options check from the driver’s seat. Otherwise, print out the options page from the Edmunds website and check off the items as you sit in your car, and then enter the information online. It is crucial to get the style and options right. Without them, you may be under- or overvaluing your car.
Coming Clean on Condition Levels
As mentioned earlier, Edmunds’ free online used car value tool has five condition levels: outstanding, clean, average, rough and damaged. Most people who use the tool will likely be dealing with just three: clean, average and rough.
You might be tempted to choose “outstanding” to get more money for your used auto. After all, you’ve pampered your car the entire time you’ve owned it, right? But the truth is that few cars qualify for this rating.
“Outstanding” is reserved for older, low-mileage vehicles, where well-preserved examples are otherwise hard to find, says Richard Arca, senior manager of pricing for Edmunds.
“A good example would be a 1996 Chevy Impala SS with 70,000 original miles that has been garaged and still has the gloss on the paint”, Arca says.
Another good example, Arca says, would be a 2001 Honda Prelude SH with 50,000 original miles that has very little wear on the interior and the factory paint that”s still glossy.
Edmunds True Market Value (TMV®) used-car prices are all set at “clean” condition, Arca says. The price of a car in a less-than-clean state is adjusted downward from there, and it reflects what it would cost to get the vehicle up to clean state. In the case of a 2001 Honda Prelude in average condition, the dollar adjustment is $1,411. That’s how much a seller would have to spend to bring it up to the “clean” state.
If your vehicle was in an accident, it could still be considered “clean” if it was repaired with factory parts and according to the manufacturer’s specifications, Arca says.
“In reality, cars that have been in accidents tend to lose market value, but there is really no way to gauge how much”, Arca says. He adds that some of the factors that affect the value are severity of the damage, the quality of the repair, and the demand for that particular model.
Be honest and objective about the used-vehicle state you choose. Try to see things from a potential buyer’s perspective.
Understanding Your Automobile Appraisal
Here’s a recap of the prices you’ll see at the end of the appraisal: trade-in, private party, dealer retail and certified used.
As the name suggests, the trade-in price is what you can expect the dealership to give you if you trade in your vehicle. The trade in value is always the lowest figure. If you want to improve on that number, there are some alternatives to trading in that you should consider.
The private-party price is what you can expect to get for the car if you sell it on your own. This is always a higher amount than the trade-in price, but it takes more work. The used-car dealer retail price is aimed at used-car shoppers. This price is an average amount you could expect to pay if you bought the car at a dealership.
The Edmunds web and mobile sites also list the certified used price if the vehicle is still relatively new. This also is aimed at used-car shoppers, showing what that vehicle’s listed price would be if it were being sold as a certified pre-owned (CPO) vehicle.
This price will usually be the highest compared to the other car valuation amounts, since CPO cars sell at a premium over non-certified cars. The buyer is essentially paying for the thorough inspection and added warranty.
It’s Easy to Be Real
Getting a realistic value for your car is key to what you do next, whether that’s selling the car, trading it in or even keeping it for a while longer. By using the Edmunds car appraisal tool in any of its forms, you’ll have a clear-eyed assessment of your car’s real worth, not a number based on guesswork and high hopes.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is my car worth?
The value of your car will vary based on its year, make, model, features, how slow it depreciates and condition level. Where you choose to sell it, will also affect its price. Trade-in prices are typically lower since the dealer needs to make a profit. You can maximize the car’s value by selling it yourself, but it requires more time and effort.
How do you find out what your car is worth?
Use Edmunds’ appraisal tool to enter the make, model, trim and options of your vehicle. Input the correct mileage and be honest about the condition level. Next, use the “trade-in” figure as a baseline for what to expect from a dealership estimate.
How do you calculate book value?
You’ll need to be familiar with your vehicle’s year, make, model, trim level, options and mileage in order to get an accurate estimate of its value. Once you have that information, enter it into the Edmunds appraisal tool.
Can I trade in my car if it is not paid off?
Yes, but you’ll want to verify that the value of your trade-in, is enough to pay off the loan. Otherwise, the balance will roll into the next auto loan and you’ll owe more than the car is worth.
What is the Kelley Blue Book price?
The “Kelley Blue Book” price is a trademarked car valuation from KBB. Many people use this term, along with “Black book” or “Edmunds TMV.” They’re all terms used to describe the estimated market value of the vehicle in question. This price is used to determine what to pay for a new or used car.