How to Determine the Retail Value of Your Used Car

Whether you plan to sell your car to a car dealership through a trade-in process or a private party, it is important to know how to calculate your vehicle’s retail value. Understanding the retail value of your car helps put you, the seller, in the driver’s seat (no pun intended). Selling used cars is a common practice. However, it is best if you handle negotiations and prices professionally.

The retail value is how much a future purchaser can expect to pay for the vehicle if buying through a used car dealership. In most cases, the car’s retail value is higher than what the purchase price would be if purchasing from a private party. It is also almost always higher than how much you might receive for it if trading it in, or if you’re doing something like online title loans with no inspection.

In this article, we’ll help you understand how to calculate your used car’s retail value.

Determining the Retail Value of your Used Car

Many factors can impact the retail value of your used car. Some of those factors are relatively obvious and are what you might expect. Specific makes and models are worth more than others. Various options on a car can make it worth more as well. For example, power windows vs. manual windows, leather seats vs. cloth seats, larger engines, etc., are all going to be worth more.

Certain cars hold their value more than others. According to the 2020 Kelley Blue Book, the following cars hold an exceptionally high resale value compared to their initial purchase price.

  • Subaru Crosstrek: subcompact class
  • Subaru Forester: compact class
  • Subaru Outback: two-row mid-size class
  • Subaru Impreza: compact class
  • Subaru Legacy: mid-size class
  • Toyota Highlander: mid-size class with third row seat
  • Toyota Avalon: full-size class
  • Toyota Prius Prime: hybrid vehicle class
  • Toyota Tacoma: mid-size pickup truck class
  • Toyota Tundra: full-size pickup truck class
  • GMC Yukon: full-size class
  • Jeep Wrangler: four-door off-road SUV
  • Volvo XC40: subcompact luxury class
  • Porsche Macan: compact luxury class
  • Porsche Cayenne: two-row mid-size luxury class
  • Lexus GX: mid-size luxury class with third row seat
  • Lexus LX: full-size luxury class
  • Lexus ES: entry-level luxury class
  • Lexus GS: luxury class
  • Chevrolet Corvette: sports car class
  • Chevrolet Silverado HD: heavy-duty pickup truck class
  • Porsche Panamera: high-end luxury class
  • Tesla Model X: electric vehicle class

  • Honda Odyssey: minivan class

If you own one of the previously mentioned vehicles, you will find yourself in a pretty good position when it comes to selling your car. However, if your car is not on the above list, it doesn’t mean that it isn’t worth anything. Use the following steps to calculate the retail value of your used car.

Step 1: Have your car checked by a qualified and certified mechanic. Make sure that there are no hidden issues with your vehicle that can work against you later. Your mechanic can look over your vehicle for a small fee and can make any necessary repairs to help improve the value.

Step 2: Ensure you have all of your car’s important documentation. To properly calculate the retail value of your used car, you will want to note your car’s make, model, production year, engine size, and any other relevant information. Having your car’s title and registration handy will also help make sure your car’s sale goes more smoothly.

Step 3: Assess the cosmetic condition of your vehicle. If your car has been in a few fender benders or has a lot of nicks and dings, this will work against you when you try to sell your car, especially if you want to get as much money as possible. Also, make a note of any cracks in the windshields or tears in the upholstery.

Step 4: Log on to the Kelley Blue Book website and select “my car’s value” from the home page. You will then need to enter in the pertinent information about your car (use what you noted in step two above). Follow the prompts on the screen and you will be taken to the trade-in value and private party value. Make a note of these figures.

Step 5: Calculate an additional 20% on top of the private party value that you identified in step four. This new figure is about what you can expect as the retail value of your used car.

Use Your Knowledge to Sell your Used Car

Now that you are informed on your vehicle’s retail value, you will be better equipped to sell or trade-in your vehicle. Working with a company such as CarBrain can make it easy to receive an offer on your car if you don’t want to bother with the legwork in selling your car outright.

Whether you decide to sell your car to a private party or if you plan to trade your car in, going in educated will ensure that you are not expecting more than your car is worth. It will help ensure you are not disappointed and adequately budget for your next vehicle purchase.

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