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05 October 2021

Car valuation: How much is the car worth?

Billionaire Jean Paul Getty once said, “You don’t talk about money ...”. Of course, that’s not true when buying or selling a car. However, the question of what the vehicle is worth is not easy for a non-technical person to answer. If you ask for too much, the car stays in the yard; if you sell below value, you will be disappointed.

So, how do you determine the market price of a used car? Think of the used car market like the free economy: supply and demand determine the price. For example, if you are looking for or selling a Volkswagen Polo, there is usually a large selection. If you want to buy a Porsche Boxster, the offers are hard to come by.

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The impact of car condition and additional equipment

The value of a car is also influenced by technical data such as the engine or the drivetrain. This is illustrated by the diesel emissions scandal: If you want to sell your Volkswagen diesel engine, you should check whether the name EA 189 (editor’s note: EA stands for “Entwicklungsauftrag” which translated into English means Development contract) is indicated on the engine. This engine was installed in car models between the years 2009 and 2014. The cars powered by it are affected by the notorious diesel scandal, which makes reselling difficult. On the other hand, hybrid or fully electric cars are currently highly sought after on the used car market. Due to the government premiums for new e-vehicles, the price of used electric cars is falling.

Another assessment basis for the vehicle value is the equipment. In other words, everything that goes beyond the standard equipment. This could be assistance systems, special leather, alloy wheels, ceramic brakes, or a sports package. These ‘special accessories’ are reflected in the selling price. The color of the car also influences its value - black, white, and silver have been the most popular for years. Flashy pink paintwork is therefore more difficult to sell.

Features that positively influence the value of vehicles

Features that positively influence the value of vehicles

Online marketplaces offer a good value indication

An initial guide to determining the value of a vehicle is to do research on online car platforms. If you enter the model, mileage, year of manufacture and optional equipment, you can see the prices that are currently being asked for comparable vehicles. This gives you an approximate idea of the value of the car for sale. The sum indicated there is usually somewhat higher than the actual value. It’s important to keep in mind that the information provided by the seller is a basis for negotiation, and not set in stone.

Tips for maintaining the value of your car

Tips for maintaining the value of your car

Classic cars and exotics are the exception

Exotic cars, special editions or classic cars are rare cases when it comes to buying or selling used cars. This is why there are typically dedicated car shows, exchanges, or platforms with a specific section for these cars. Additionally, you can discover more about the value from the heritage departments of the manufacturers. Beyond these sources, you should have an appraisal done by a technician before buying. This may cost more than 100 euros, but it’s usually money well spent.

How the CARFAX Vehicle History Report can help

Understanding the vehicle history is a helpful tool. It provides information on whether there has been prior damage, modifications or accidents, and how many owners the vehicle has already had. The CARFAX Vehicle History Report offers information on vehicles from about 20 countries, is far less expensive than an appraisal, and provides a solid basis for evaluation. It can be used, for example, to verify if the information listed in the car ad is correct.

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Of course, the preliminary work is somewhat tedious, but in the end, it will help you buy or sell the car at the right price.

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