How do I find out the retail value of used cars?

how do I find out the retail value of used carsBuying a used car can be an intimidating experience. It’s easy to get taken advantage of and pay too much for your car, or end up with a vehicle that has major problems you didn’t know about. Fortunately, there are some excellent resources available for determining the correct price on just about any car you might want to buy. Add in the options for comparing different car insurance companies and you’ll be able to save money without compromising on quality.

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Car Model Listings

The most obvious way to find the value of any used car you’re considering buying is to check third-party car model listings. These are directories of vehicles by make, model, year and condition, with a suggested retail price listed for each. While listings of this kind aren’t set in stone, researching them beforehand can give you a good idea of the appropriate range for the cars you’re thinking about.

Kelley Blue Book – This is possibly the best known model listing directory, to the extent that suggested retail prices are known as “blue book prices.” This directory is available both online and in print via subscription or individual purchase.

This directory also provides prices for trucks, RVs, motorcycles, boats and snowmobiles, though not all information is available online. It allows you to see the recommended retail value, private-party value and trade-in value for most cars. The information is collected from recent sales of the vehicles in question.

NADA – NADA, or the National Automobile Dealers Association, also puts out a series of guides to vehicle prices. Like Kelley, NADA provides its guides online and in print format, and covers current cars, classic cars, RVs, boats and even mobile homes. Vehicles are listed by make, model, year and zip code.

Prices may vary depending on the special features available on the car. Listings from NADA include the rough trade-in price, average trade-in price and clean trade-in price, as well as the clean retail price – the price you can expect to pay for a vehicle with a clean history and no serious accidents or other problems.

do I find out the retail value of used carsEdmunds – This provider of automative information was originally founded as a printed booklet publisher but now provides information only online. The publisher’s True Market Value pricing tools were created in 2000, and provide the average estimated price for both new and used cars.

Edmunds lists cars by zip code, make, model, condition and extra features. Prices are provided for trade-ins, private party sales and dealer retail sales, and are based on recent vehicle sales in your immediate area.

Due Diligence

Looking up the car you want to buy in a model listing isn’t the only thing you should do to find out what it’s worth. If you’re seriously considering a specific vehicle, you’ll need to do some research on it. For instance, some models have known defects, such as electrical systems that fail early or consistent transmission problems. If the car you’re thinking of buying falls into this category, it should have a lower price than similar vehicles without these known risks.

Learning the History

You should also check the condition and history of the individual vehicle. All modern cars come with a VIN, or vehicle identification number. You can use this number to research the past of the car you’re considering buying. In some cases, the vehicle may have been restored after a serious accident that caused an insurance company to write it off completely. Cars of this type often look fine, but have structural problems that make them unsafe or unreliable for future driving.

Ask to see any recent repair bills and have the car taken to a mechanic for a check up. It’s best to choose a mechanic you know and trust, not one recommended by the seller. If any problems show up, the price should be lower than the average to make up for it. While having the car inspected by an expert costs a little extra, it’s worth it even if you don’t buy the car. No one wants to end up with a vehicle that will have serious, expensive problems down the road.

Location Matters

Research your region and immediately local area’s pricing, too. If the retail listing you use doesn’t provide prices by region, you may be able to get a discount for living in some areas. For instance, vehicles purchased in some parts of Florida are much cheaper than the same vehicles purchased in most other parts of the US.

find out the retail value of used carsRural areas and the center of urban areas tend to boost prices, while the edges of cities provide dealers with inexpensive operating costs and plenty of demand, driving costs down. Account for these factors when you decide what’s a good value for the car you’re thinking about purchasing.

Remember to Insure

Don’t forget to find out what your car will cost to insure, too. After all, even the cheapest car isn’t much of a bargain if you have to pay a lot to keep it covered. Take some time to check out average insurance costs for the specific vehicle you want. Get quotes from several different insurers according to your ZIP code. Compare all the policies and their prices to find out how much your new car insurance will be and make sure that you’re getting the best possible discount.

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