Major features, such as the car’s transmission, engine type and all-wheel
drive, can have a big impact on the value of the car. The same goes for
options such as leather seats, navigation, a sunroof or automatic climate
control. If you can remember your car’s options off the top of your head,
great. If not, here are some suggestions on where to get the information you
The vehicle’s original window sticker (which has the car’s mpg and total MSRP) is the best place to find the options. Unfortunately, few
people actually hang on to the sticker. Without it, your best bet is to sit in
your car and make a note of its options.
If you’re using a smartphone, tablet
or laptop (assuming you’re within Wi-Fi range), you can complete the options
check from the driver’s seat. It is crucial to get the style and options
right. Without them, you may be under- or overvaluing your car.
Coming clean on condition levels
Our tool will ask you to pick from five condition levels: outstanding, clean,
average, rough and damaged. Most people will choose one of three: clean, average or rough.
You might be tempted to choose “outstanding” to get more money for your used
auto. After all, you’ve pampered your car the entire time you’ve owned it,
right? But the truth is that few cars qualify for this rating.
“Outstanding” is reserved for older, low-mileage vehicles in cases where
well-preserved examples are hard to find, says Richard Arca, senior manager of
pricing for Edmunds.
Edmunds True Market Value (TMV®) used car prices are all set at
“clean” condition, Arca says. The price of a car in a less-than-clean state is
adjusted downward from there, and it reflects what it would cost to bring the
vehicle up to a clean state.
If your vehicle was in an accident, it could still be considered “clean” if it
was repaired with factory parts and according to the manufacturer’s
specifications, Arca says.
“In reality, cars that have been in accidents tend to lose market value, but
there is really no way to gauge how much,” Arca says. He adds that some of the
factors that affect the value are the severity of the damage, the quality of
the repair, and the demand for that particular model.
Be honest and objective about the state of your used vehicle. Try to see
things from a potential buyer’s perspective.
It’s easy to be real
Getting a realistic up-to-date value for your car is key to what you do next,
whether you decide to trade it in, list it for sale on a site like Autotrader,
or even keep it for a while longer. By using the Edmunds car appraisal tool to
do your research, you’ll have a clear-eyed assessment of your car’s actual
worth, not a number based on guesswork and high hopes.