How to Find an Accurate Calculation for Your Vehicle’s Value

Everyone who’s ever sold or attempted to sell their vehicle knows that offers received usually vary from what you think your car is worth. Several reputable organizations have Internet-based tools that provide estimates of what vehicles are worth. However, asking these prices is often unreasonable when selling to private parties, as they often haggle you down. Fortunately, it’s very possible to find an accurate calculation as to what your vehicle’s value is – If you know where to look.

Here are several ways to obtain realistic estimates on what your car, truck, van, or other vehicle is worth.

Defining terms related to selling vehicles

Let’s say you look online and find that your car is worth $7,500 in its current condition. If you finance it to a private party on monthly payments — and while it carries the risk of the customer defaulting — you’re likely to make at least $7,500, if not more. Selling it for cash may only fetch $6,500.

Fair market value is the worth of your vehicle on equitable, active markets.

Actual cash value is what you should expect to actually bring home when negotiating with private, independent buyers.

Places you can look for estimating value

Kelley Blue Book

This organization was founded nearly 100 years ago, in 1918. Kelley Blue Book used to publish physical books, hence its name. Today, Kelly Blue Book operates the website that helps prospective car sellers find values of vehicles they plan on selling. The site features fields to include specific year, make, model, engine size, bells and whistles like moonroof or power windows, and condition of vehicles.

Prices vary based on which of the four condition values it falls under. However, vehicles in notoriously bad conditions or that are extensively aged may not receive accurate estimates.


Edmunds is another popular website that provides estimates of used cars’ values. It is very similar to Kelley Blue Book. Just like KBB, it adjusts prices of vehicles based on particular locations, some of which may pay more or less than others.


Found at, Craigslist is one of the most popular places to list classifieds. People post personals, jobs, yard sales, and many other categories of classifieds on this site, although its private-party vehicular buy, sell, and trade section is more active than most on the site. This organization is free to use and has hundreds of individual websites, in which you choose whichever large city is nearest you.

In trying to find the most accurate value for your vehicle, aim for the lowest values found on these three websites. It’s always better to be conservative than overestimate what your vehicle will yield.

Contact businesses who purchase vehicles

Some companies exist solely to purchase and resell used vehicles. If you’re having trouble selling your vehicle or need cash soon, companies that buy cars might be your best bet. However, you may not receive higher bids than all interested private buyers will offer.