How Much Is My Car Worth? Probably More Than You Think

As your car’s odometer approaches the 100,000 mile mark, you’re probably starting to question, how much is my car worth? Although it’s no longer the apple of your eye, your vehicle might be a diamond in the rough for a private buyer out there – if only you could find them! Before you miss out on a big chunk of change by taking the seemingly easy route with a dealer trade-in and, we think you should consider what your car might be worth with just a few minor repairs.

What you should know about vehicle trade-ins

Trade-ins are convenient. You arrive in one car, you leave in the vehicle you’ve been drooling over online for the last two months. The problem with trade-ins, however, is that you don’t get the value you deserve for your car. Compared to TRED averages, you’re giving up about $3,500 if you trade-in, and about $1,500 if you sell privately.

How Much Is My Car Worth?

Think about how that money adds up over time

Overpaying doesn’t just hurt on day one, you’ll feel it with every monthly car payment. A few thousand dollars is a lot of cash – even if it’s rolled out over the life of a loan. If you’re considering a trade-in, here’s some math to noodle on:

  • Versus a trade-in, TRED gets you an average of $3,500 more;

  • The average term and interest rate on a used car loan is about three years and 5%, respectively;

  • $3,500 financed at 5% over three years equates to an additional $105 In monthly payment. Which begs the question: what could you do with an extra $100 every month?

How much is my car worth?

Whether cosmetic or mechanical, it’s surprising what a couple quick fixes can do for a car’s value. But how can you know whether spending money on a car you plan to sell will pay off in the end, you ask? Here’s how:

  1. Use sites like Kelley Blue Book or TRED to estimate the value of your vehicle in its existing condition (fair, good, very good, etc.);

  2. Once you have your current value, run the estimate again, but this time fill out the information as though your car was in the next best condition category;

  3. Subtract your car’s existing conditional value from its value assuming the next best condition. This difference will roughly equate to what you can stand to gain by repairing your vehicle;

  4. Finally, work with a trusted mechanic to estimate the cost to improve your car’s condition.

Make sure you trust your mechanic

Remember, your goal at this point is to decide whether the cost to make repairs is worth the cash outlay before you’ve sold your car, so you need to find a mechanic that you trust. Don’t have one? If you like scheduling appointments to have people come to you, we recommend YourMechanic, and if you prefer to keep your own schedule but don’t mind garages, we recommend Firestone.

Pro Tip: Yelp is a great place to research mechanics. Look beyond the number of stars by scanning for mentions of mechanics by name. Don’t be afraid to request mechanics that are consistently complimented for high-quality work.

Consider cosmetic fixes that can increase value

Minor cosmetic fixes can lift your vehicle’s conditional value significantly, and it’s surprising how inexpensive those fixes can be. As long as pre-existing damage isn’t too severe and rust isn’t involved, you might even be able to use simple hacks to remove dents or polish away scratches. If repairing cosmetic wear and tear is outside of your skill set or comfort zone, get a quote from a professional. Getting some light body work accomplished can pay dividends when it comes time to sell.

Do the math and take action

Compare your estimated cost of repair to the estimated value increase of your vehicle when repaired. If the increase in your car’s value divided by the cost of repairs is greater than one, it’s worth making the fix. Especially if you sell it on TRED!

Sell Your Car for Thousands More!GET AN ESTIMATE!

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