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How Much is My Car Worth?

What’s My Car Worth?

You’re just trying to answer a simple question, right?  Well it turns out the answer can vary depending on who you ask, and how you are trying to dispose of your vehicle.  In this article we will explore the difference in pricing based on the three most common prices (trade-in, private sale, and dealer asking price). 

Trade-In Price

The majority of dealers will buy your car, regardless if you buy theirs.  Either way, you will typically get the trade-in price.  Unfortunately, this price can seem quite low. Dealers have expenses (marketing, repair, cleaning, holding cost), need to make a profit, and since there is no guarantee on the selling price, they price in a certain amount of risk to each car.  For my own GMC Terrain, the local dealership website’s trade-in tool says the average trade-in price is $10,622. Their trade-in too is powered by CarFax, which intentionally designed to A) provide 3rd party credibility, B) reduce consumer expectations on the price.

Private Sale

Before listing their vehicle privately, most consumers will do some research on Autotrader and Kijiji.  They find cars similar to their own car, and will assume they can list for the same price.  The problem is that most buyers have reservations about dealing with private sellers.  Buyers worry about scammers and damaged or rebuilt vehicles. AutoTrader & Kijiji have tools to estimate the discount amounts for private sellers.  For my GMC Terrain, it was  suggested I list it for $14,785. Unfortunately the tools are based on list prices, and not the actual selling price.  Most private sellers end up dropping their price dramatically, and many still don’t sell their vehicle.  

Dealer Asking Price

Dealer asking price is closest to true retail value.  Dealers must price their vehicles competitively, or they won’t get any leads.  The dealer might have to drop the sale price a bit in the final negotiation, but there usually isn’t much wiggle room.  The challenge is that only dealers can command these prices.


There are many sites willing to provide pricing information.  Be skeptical of their prices and motivations.  Most of these traditional players have deep links with dealers, and their job is to convince sellers that their car is worth less.  If you want to get retail value for your car, find out how Carity can help.

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