Appraise Your Own Car

by Don Elliott on February 22, 2012

You can go to almost any pricing guide website to learn your car’s used car value. All of these sites,,,, and others, offer up what your car would be worth if it were retail ready. Of course, if your car was retail ready, it is not likely that you would be so anxious to sell it, would you?

What should you ask for your car? Let’s walk through the numbers. Be realistic. Remember, this is you working for you. We are assuming here that your car is at least safe to drive.

Pricing Guide ‘Book” Value If Retail Ready   $___________
Any Smells, Pet Odors, Cigarette Smoke, Mold   Deduct $500
Torn Seats or Loose Headliner   Deduct $250
Interior Switches, Windows, or Radio Not Working   Deduct $200
Air Conditioning Not Cold   Deduct $400
Bad Window Tint   Deduct $50
Exterior Walk Around
Collision Damage   Deduct Collision Repair Estimation
Hail Damage   Deduct $600
Badly Scratched or Torn Bumper Covers   Deduct $150
Broken Windshield or Power Mirrors   Deduct $200
Mismatched Tires   Deduct $300
Tire Tread 4/32 or Less. Double It For Trucks   Deduct $100 per Tire
Engine Noises, Clatter, Whirring   Deduct $500
Transmission Shifting Issues   Deduct $1000
Wheel Noise When Braking or Hard Steering   Deduct $400
Milky or Sludge Oil. Check the Dipstick   Deduct $750
Net Used Car Value After Real World Deductions   $___________


The amount that you should ask for your car is somewhere between the Pricing Guide Retail Ready “Book” Value and the net used car value. When doing your own appraisal, you have the opportunity to consider the severity of any problems with your car. For example, if the window tint on you car looks bad, it is easy to recoup more than the $50 deduction by removing the bad window tint. Also, a good set of matched tires is considered valuable to most buyers, usually more than the deduction for bald or badly worn tires.

Knowing the numbers or at least knowing how to make a good guess at your car’s used car value will help you to negotiate the best deal possible, whether you are selling the car yourself or trading it in for another vehicle.

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