Buying a car? A guide to car valuations

How to value a car
How to value a car

Whether you’re buying or selling a car, the most important thing to do is research throughout the whole process to ensure you’re getting a good deal.

Of course it’s important to know whether your new purchase will be reliable or fit your family in, but the most fundamental question is of price – you need definitive answers to ‘how much is my car worth?’ and ‘how much should I be paying for my new car?’

That’s where using a car valuation tool really pays off. Gone are the days of relying on a slightly dodgy car dealer to tell you a number and then decide whether you trust it – a decent valuation is just a few clicks on a computer or swipes on a smartphone away.

Knowing what your car is worth will help you to get a fair deal if you’re trading it in, or the best price if you’re selling privately. It can help you decide whether to hand your car back or buy it outright at the end of a PCP deal, and you can answer your insurer when they ask you your car’s worth.

Car valuations when buying a car

Unless you get extremely lucky or you’re buying a limited-edition supercar, most new models you buy will lose value. Depreciation depends on many things, including the make and model of car, its colour, what optional extras you’ve added, and the supply and demand in the market at the time.

It should come as no surprise then that the models that lose the least money are exotic models from Ferrari, Porsche, Lotus and Lamborghini – they’re highly desirable and produced in limited numbers.

But you might also be surprised to find that models from Lexus, Land Rover and Subaru are also very good for holding their value, for different reasons. For example, Lexus models are known to be extremely reliable and have excellent dealer service – things that don’t become any less desirable with age. Then there’s Dacia – the cheapest car manufacturer in the UK, whos vehicles can’t lose much value because they cost so little in the first place.

So if you’re buying new, bear in mind which models fare the best at resale time. If you’re opting for a PCP or lease package, these cars often lead to lower monthly payments, as there’s more value in the car at the end of the deal. So depreciation is massively important, and that’s why it’s so useful to have a precise valuation of your car when you’re selling.

Car valuations when selling a car

The most important thing to do when selling a car is to ensure you’re pricing it correctly for not just the make and model but the mileage, condition, history and specification. The good news is that most premium car valuations allow you to make adjustments to these to ensure the valuation you get is accurate.

When you’re armed with an accurate value, you can see if you’re asking too much and therefore unlikely to sell the car. You can also choose to price the car slightly below market value if you’re just looking for a quick sale.

If you’ve done the right thing with your car while you’ve owned it, you can make a significant impact to what it’s worth. Keeping the mileage down by avoiding unnecessary journeys, keeping it well serviced and getting the service book stamped and making sure to remedy any major cosmetic issues will ensure you can charge top dollar when you come to sell.

How to value your car

Use an online car valuation tool – you can find plenty of them through a quick web search. If you pay a small fee for a premium valuation, you can tailor the valuation to specific details of your car.

The next thing to do is check the classified ads to check out adverts for cars similar to yours. Armed with this information you can price yours accordingly – whether you’re selling privately, trading in with a dealer, or negotiating a new PCP deal at the end of your existing contract.