Determine the Value of Used Cars Before Buying

By Mike Richards Updated: 07/26/2022 Posted: 09/28/2017

You’ve been shopping for a car, and you know that you would rather choose a used vehicle than a new one thanks to the savings you can enjoy. However, many people do not know what the true value of a used vehicle should be, and they could still end up paying too much for the car if they are not careful.

Many factors can affect the value of a vehicle on the used market whether you are buying through a lot or an auction site. Some of the biggest things you will have to consider include the age of the vehicle, the number of miles on the vehicle, the options it has, and the overall condition of the car.

Where You Buy the Vehicle

Another factor that can affect the price is the location where you buy the vehicle. If you are buying from a used car dealership, the price will tend to be higher than buying through a private seller, or even an auction site in many cases. This is because those car dealerships need to include the overhead of running their business in the cost of selling those vehicles. If you buy through a dealership, you are almost always going to be spending more money.

When you are buying through a private seller, you may find that you can get some better prices for the car or truck. However, you have less guarantee that what they claim about the vehicle is true. Some private sellers have “bad” cars on their hands that they can’t wait to get rid of. They drop the price a bit and do not tell the potential buyers the whole truth about the vehicle. This means there is a chance you could get a less than stellar vehicle and have very little recourse.

Buying through an auction, or using the buy now button when you buy a used car can provide you with good prices in many cases. In addition, cars sold in this manner tend to have more documentation when it comes to the condition of the vehicle, so you will have a better idea of what you are getting.

What People Are Willing to Pay

This is one of the factors that is difficult to account for. Some types of vehicles, such as sports cars or classic cars, have skewed prices because they depend on the amount of money a person is willing to pay for the vehicle. Some used cars might be quite popular and in demand, and they can fetch higher prices because of that demand. If you are looking for a specific make and model of used vehicle that has certain characteristics or options that will make it more attractive to buyers, then there is a good chance the prices will be inflated when compared with similar vehicles of other makes and models.

What’s the Right Price?

When you find some vehicles that appeal to you, it is important that you take the time to look up the value of the make and model through pricing websites and publications, such as Kelley Blue Book and Auto Trader. These can give you an idea of what the value would be for vehicles in certain conditions. You can also search the local listings for those vehicles to see what the current sales prices are for the types of vehicle you are considering.

Take the prices you find and then compare those to the price of the vehicle you are considering. Ideally, you will be comparing vehicles that have similar mileage and the same options, and that are in the same condition. This is the best way to find what the value of the used car will be and what you should be paying for it.

Always Try to Save

When you are buying a used car, the goal is generally to save as much money as possible. You might want to buy the vehicle outright so you do not have to worry about spending money on a car payment each month. By taking the time to research the used cars and to find the accurate value of the cars, you will know whether or not you are making a good financial decision with your purchase.