How is my used car value determined?

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7 min read

Selling a used car can be surprisingly difficult to do on your own, especially if it’s older or, uh, “well-worn.” That's why people often do dealership trade-ins, which may seem like an easy option (is it really though?), but selling a very used car to a dealer is often less lucrative.

Knowing your car’s genuine market worth is the key. (Unless you sell your car to Peddle, because we make it super easy, offer fair market value on your clunker, and buy even the junkiest junkers.)

Check out our tips for figuring out your used car’s value on the open market, as well as some crucial aspects that can influence how much you get:

factors affecting your car's resale value

With the right info, you can be sure to sell for the true value of your old car, and there are many factors. To determine that right price, you first need to dig into the fundamentals of your car's value.


Because automobiles depreciate over time, a car’s value typically drops as it ages. So a newer used car will typically have a higher value than an older used car with the same manufacturer, model, mileage, and condition. There are exceptions though, like if your car is rare, vintage, or has high-demand parts.


When you put on more miles, you're going to see more wear and tear. You may expect to get a higher price for your car if it has fewer miles on the clock than the average vehicle of the same age. You may have an excellent used car, but if it has 200,000 or more miles on it, don't be shocked if you receive a lower offer.


Some car brands resell better than others, mostly because some car brands depreciate faster than others. Lexus, Audi, Benz, and Porsche are the most incredible luxury brands for resale value. Honda, Subaru, Hyundai, and Toyota are the best mass-market brands. These cars can keep anywhere from 45 to 60 percent of their value during the first three years, as opposed to only 35 percent for other brand names in a similar timespan.

condition of the exterior

Potential buyers are often put off by dings, dents, cracks, and evident corrosion. So, no surprise, used cars lose value as soon as they show signs of body or paintwork corrosion.

Mechanical problems and interior damage aside, a beat-up car can yield anything between 15 and 30 percent below a flawless comparable car. Before you consider fixing up your car, there are buyers who will gladly take it off your hands regardless of the exterior condition. (It’s us! We will!) Consider the time/energy/money involved in repairing damages versus selling it as-is.

condition of the interior

If you are planning on selling privately, you will want to consider an interior deep clean. Thoroughly vacuum and clean the inside, neutralize or disguise remaining odors by cleaning plastic and vinyl and purchasing new floor rugs to entice potential buyers into making a purchase. Leather seats that are generally in good condition can also be cleaned to gleam like new. Depending on the age of the automobile, reupholstering faded or torn seats may be worth considering. (With Peddle, you won’t have to worry about any of this.)

engine and gearbox

Cars with different gearbox types (automatic or manual) might have different values. New automatics are often more costly. However, there are several outliers, notably some off-road, sporting, and luxury vehicles, where the value of a second-hand manual is higher than that of its automatic counterparts.

history and registration

If your car was previously written off or damaged in a collision, its value will probably be affected, even if you’ve fixed it up and it’s looking like new.

It's also possible that buyers may be willing to pay extra for a vehicle that hasn't been damaged. That’s an even safer bet when the car has maintenance records that can be traced back to the manufacturer. Vehicles already registered and with roadworthy certifications might command better prices when put on the market.

modifications and add-ons from third-party suppliers

Home improvement projects may readily pay for themselves, but some aftermarket automobile modifications typically reverse the effect. That's because modified vehicles tend to wear out more quickly than stock vehicles (often because many vehicles are modified for off-roading or racing).

Using non-OEM parts in customizations might cause a slew of additional problems as well. There is no need to tinker around too much under the hood unless you're explicitly targeting car enthusiasts who recognize your effort and appreciate its ramifications.

a vehicle's class and body type

For a variety of reasons, car class and body type have an impact on pricing. Geographic location is a significant factor. Race cars and convertibles are more prevalent in warm areas because they can be used all year round, making them more appealing. In colder regions and locations with more rugged terrain, tough SUVs and four-wheel-drive automobiles are more prevalent.

Fuel efficiency is another important consideration. Used cars with superior fuel efficiency tend to hold their value better when gasoline costs rise, while those with better cargo room and reliability ratings maintain value better when fuel is low.

get an estimate on the value of your vehicle

In today's market, car valuation can accurately assess a vehicle's current market value based on several important aspects. It’s all algorithms and smart technology, and it actually shifts automatically with the market. So the market value of your car can actually change day to day.

Peddle buys very used cars

If you want to get rid of your car now and don’t feel like thinking about it or putting in any work to improve its condition, Peddle will give you an instant offer in minutes. And we buy even the junkiest junkers. Just answer a few quick questions. We offer free pickup anywhere in the country, and pay on the spot.

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