How to Know How Much to Ask for Your Used Car

If you have a car that you no longer want, there are a few ways to get rid of it. You can donate it or gift it to someone, sell it privately, or trade it in at the dealership.

For nearly everyone who owns a car, there is a significant financial investment into the car purchase and you want to realize as much of that money back as possible when the time comes to get rid of it. In that way, a private sale is your best option to get the most for your car.

It’s difficult to set the advertised price because most people aren’t expert car salespeople. The price of a car is based on a handful of factors including:

  • The car’s appearance and physical condition
  • The car’s mechanical condition
  • The current mileage
  • The demand in the marketplace for you vehicle
  • The features and options in the car

Following these guidelines, you can set the price for your used car to get the most money from its sale.

Part 1 of 4: Consider the car’s trade-in value

When you are selling a car, you can determine your vehicle’s approximate market value by comparing your car’s trade-in value at the dealership.

Step 1: Have your vehicle appraised by a car dealer. Usually it is the used car sales manager at a dealership that performs used car appraisals.

Clean your vehicle well and empty it of personal contents so the dealer can see its true condition.

The appraised trade-in value is lower than your car’s advertised and selling price. The dealer accounts for potential reconditioning costs, mechanical repairs, and includes a margin for profit as well.

  • Tip: You may have to pay a small fee for a car appraisal if you don’t intend on trading your car in or selling it to the dealership.
price worth KBB
Image: Kelley Blue Book

Step 2: Visit Kelly Blue Book for your car’s value. In your web browser, go to KBB.com and select the category “What’s My Car Worth.”

Step 3: Enter vehicle information. Enter your vehicle particulars including the year, make, model, and accurate mileage, then click “next”.

On the next screen, select your vehicle’s configuration, then click “next” again.

Accurately select the vehicle options your car possesses along with its color, then click “See Blue Book Value”.

Step 4: Determine the value. Choose the option “Trade in to a Dealer” with your vehicle’s condition and click “Get Blue Book Value”.

The results are shown as a range of values depending on condition with your car’s approximate trade-in value marked on the chart.

  • Tip: Most vehicles are good to very good condition, though you should select what your car’s condition accurately reflects.

Step 5: Calculate your car’s advertised price. The trade-in price is usually about 20% lower than the fair market value price for your car.

Average the dealer’s appraisal amount with the Kelley Blue Book trade-in valuation, then multiply the result by 1.25 to see the price you should look to get for your used car.

Part 2 of 4: Determine the fair market value

You can use online tools to determine a fair asking price for your vehicle. Fair market price tools take into consideration vehicles listed for sale in your area so you can accurately determine an asking price for your used car.

KBB homepage
Image: Kelley Blue Book

Step 1: Navigate on your computer to KBB.com. Kelley Blue Book has a private party value tool to determine a fair valuation for your vehicle.

Step 2: Click on “Check my Car’s Value” on the left side. This will direct you to the appropriate portal.

Step 3: Enter your vehicle’s information. On the next page, enter your vehicle’s basic information.

This includes the year, make, model, and its accurate mileage. Click “Next” to proceed to the next step. Select every option that your vehicle possesses along with its color.

If there is an option selected by default that your vehicle doesn’t have, uncheck it for the most accurate results.

Step 4: Click on the “See Blue Book Value” button. This will reveal your car’s value.

Step 5: Select the option “Sell to a Private Party”. This starts you on the process of finding a buyer.

Step 6: Determine vehicle’s condition. Once you’ve made your selection, you need to assign a condition to your vehicle.

Try to be unbiased and fair or you may value your vehicle high because of an emotional reason.

Step 7: Click on “Get Blue Book Value”. You’ll see results on the following page on a chart showing the fair market value range of your vehicle with your vehicle condition highlighted.

This number should be very close to your asking price for your vehicle when you list it for sale.

Part 3 of 4: Compare with similar vehicle listings

You can determine your vehicle’s fair advertised price based on the listings for similar vehicles in the marketplace.

Step 1: Search private sales on online sites. Common sites include ones such as AutoTrader.com and Craigslist.org.

Be sure to look only for vehicles near your location and for models that are within 1 year newer or older than your vehicle if there aren’t many listings.

Step 2: Widen the search area. If you have a specialty vehicle, widen the search area until you have 5-7 similar vehicles to compare with.

Step 3: Select similar vehicles. Select vehicles with similar equipment and mileage for the most accurate comparisons.

Step 4: Average the prices. When you have 5-7 comparable vehicle listings, average out their advertised prices.

This is a great way to determine a starting price point for your car.

Part 4 of 4: Set the advertised price

Your advertised price is largely dependent on your vehicle’s condition, though you are free to set your advertised price higher or lower at your discretion. You’ll also want to have a firm number in mind for your desired selling price.

Step 1: Figure out a minimum price. Decide on an minimum amount you would be satisfied selling your used car for.

The selling price may be the amount you still owe on your car loan or a number you believe is fair. Typically, your selling price is somewhere between your trade-in value and your advertised price.

Step 2: Set your price. Set your advertised price 5-10% higher than the minimum price you would be willing to accept.

For example, if your car has a trade-in value of $9,000 and you’d be happy selling your car for $10,000, advertise your car for sale somewhere around $10,500 to $11,000.

  • Tip: A lower advertised price typically garners more attention and more inquiries about your car while a higher advertised price leaves you more room to negotiate. Use the strategy you are more comfortable with.

Pricing your used vehicle properly will not only help your used car valuable ad get attention but will help you get the best price possible as well. If you want to establish credibility with any potential buyers, have a pre-purchase inspection performed by one of YourMechanic’s certified professionals to verify that your car is in the promised condition.


Next Step

Schedule Pre-purchase Car Inspection

The most popular service booked by readers of this article is Pre-purchase Car Inspection. YourMechanic’s technicians bring the dealership to you by performing this job at your home or office 7-days a week between 7AM-9PM. We currently cover over 2,000 cities and have 100k+ 5-star reviews... LEARN MORE

SEE PRICING & SCHEDULING

The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details

Recent Pre-purchase Car Inspection reviews

Excellent Rating

(4,929)

Rating Summary
4,601
176
36
38
78
4,601
176
36
38
78

Adam

17 years of experience
158 reviews
Adam
17 years of experience
Jeep Wrangler L6-4.0L - Pre-purchase Car Inspection - West Palm Beach, Florida
Adam arrived on time for my sight unseen vehicle purchase pre-inspection and called me right after he was done to talk about the issues in the comments I left for him prior to his arrival. He was articulate, well spoken, and explained things to a tech geek in a way I could wrap my head around. Will definitely be requesting him in the future if I have anymore jobs in FL.
Lexus GX470 - Pre-purchase Car Inspection - West Palm Beach, Florida
very thorough on his inspection. responds to all of my messages. very pleasant to talk to. highly recommended

Miguel

21 years of experience
184 reviews
Miguel
21 years of experience
Mini Cooper L4-2.0L Turbo - Pre-purchase Car Inspection - Teterboro, New Jersey
I booked a pre-purchase inspection through YourMechanic.com and Miguel Medina did the inspection. Miguel was very thorough and professional and answered all of my specific questions promptly and completely. I am completely satisfied with Miguel's service and advice and with the YourMechanic.com service.
Infiniti G35 - Pre-purchase Car Inspection - Totowa, New Jersey
Miguel is professional he arrived to the appointment early and did a through inspection of the vehicle we are interested in purchasing.

Jeffrey

16 years of experience
85 reviews
Jeffrey
16 years of experience
Chevrolet Express 2500 V8-4.8L - Pre-purchase Car Inspection - Pinellas Park, Florida
Super cool guy. Did a very thorough inspection! I felt confident with my purchase after he checked it out. Seemed to be very knowledgeable and gave his honest opinion about the vehicle.
BMW 328xi - Pre-purchase Car Inspection - Largo, Florida
Great Communications, and thorough assessment and evaluation of the vehicle. He clearly communicated the immediate needs of the car and also noted the items working well. Thanks for a great report, it definitely helps me make a decision!

Christopher

20 years of experience
271 reviews
Christopher
20 years of experience
Lexus RX350 V6-3.5L - Pre-purchase Car Inspection - Tampa, Florida
I hired Christopher to do a follow-up pre-purchase inspection to take a look at the dealership service repairs for issues he previously found and he was able to verify their work and even find a couple of new issues the dealership also addressed. He saved in several hundred of dollars of work and his reports were very detailed and thorough.
Lexus RX350 - Pre-purchase Car Inspection - Tampa, Florida
Christopher provided a very detailed report for my Pre-Purchase Inspection. He helped catch some issues my dealership later agreed to fix to close out the deal.

Need Help With Your Car?

Our certified mobile mechanics make house calls in over 2,000 U.S. cities. Fast, free online quotes for your car repair.

GET A QUOTE

Related articles

How to Advertise Your Used Car With a Window Display
To To have more success when trying to sell your vehicle it is necessary to advertise it even when you are on the go. In addition to cleaning your vehicle and making sure it looks its best, displaying for-sale signs...
The Best Used Cars to Buy If You’re a Photographer
If If you are a photographer, and you’re considering buying a used car, the big thing to consider is the type of photography you do. Thanks to the advances in digital photography, chances are you’re not hauling around a lot...
The Best Used Cars to Buy to Maximize Resale Value
A A car is not an investment. An investment, by definition, increases in value. A car is a necessary purchase, and it will never appreciate in value, with the possible exception of classics and antiques. So, as a used car...

Related questions

Looking to buy a 08 Ford F150 with seized plugs

I would make sure that the vehicle had the new inserts put into the plug holes or the new plug may blow out. Have the car dealer show you the work that was done to see if new inserts were...

I'm Looking at a BMW 328i (2007) to buy.

Most cars are pretty trouble free for about 100K. After that, things start to happen. Aside from the regular maintenance, you will see the occasional check engine light and find out you need to replace things like Oxygen sensors, or...

Car won't start sometimes

The vehicle and engine would decide on the actual cost to repair the problems. The no start may be more than a battery or starter. I recommend having a pre-purchase inspection done on the car to ensure that the correct...

How can we help?

Our service team is available 7 days a week, Monday - Friday from 6 AM to 5 PM PST, Saturday - Sunday 7 AM - 4 PM PST.

1 (855) 347-2779 · hi@yourmechanic.com