You can remember how much you spent on your car over the past year – even if you can’t remember what year – but how much can you expect to get for it today?
When you have finished this article, hopefully you will have a pretty good idea.
The easiest way to find out what your car is worth is to pretend you are shopping for the same vehicle. Go to an online classifieds site and just search for your car. You will get a rough idea of the range of values – upper and lower.
The used car market is changing rapidly, with new car stock becoming more readily available and used car prices dropping every week, but the basics are still used.
Your car will be worth the average of what’s available (or the median, for the math professor’s reading). Note that just because Joe Bloggs has advertised his Holden ute for $50,000 – when the rest is more like $35,000 – doesn’t mean yours is worth it. This means that Mr. Bloggs is thinking wishfully. Or he may not be interested in selling at all. Some sellers like to leave a baited hook in the water at all times – just in case they get a bite for their optimistic pricing.
Note that it may be difficult to understand the extreme lower end of the value range, as those vehicles sell the fastest.
Another method – if your car is comprehensively insured – is to call your insurance company and just ask. Note that insurance companies are incentivized to value your car a little less.
You can also use third party tools like this website here. Just go to the showroom of the vehicle you want to sell, scroll down and find your model year and it will give you a rough estimate of its value based on recent sales.
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You can also get a formal assessment, but this costs money and isn’t really necessary – unless you simply don’t know what you’re doing, something this article will hopefully solve.
Knowing the value of your car is the first step towards setting a price to sell.
Variables that affect vehicle resale value
Make and model.
It’s an unfortunate reality that some brands – and even models – hold their value better than others. You may have saved money before buying that Holden Captiva over a Toyota RAV4 five years ago, but now that it’s time to sell it, you might be better off not comparing the value of a used car to what it is today. Unless you want to cry.
Type of car.
Selling a dual-cab car or mid-size SUV in Australia? You are in a good place. Trying to sell a small city car or a large sedan? Take a deep breath. It makes sense that if you’re selling the most popular type of vehicle in Australia, you’ll have an easier time.
The lower the kilometers, the better. The average Australian does about 13,000km a year, so if your car is five years old and has about 65,000km, that’s about right.
If you’re thinking of selling your car and it’s approaching the 100,000km mark, seriously consider moving it before it gets to that point. A car with 92,000km will be easier to sell than a car with 102,000km. That all said, there are vehicles for which the mileage doesn’t really matter – 200,000km is low for an older Toyota LandCruiser. And there are circumstances where higher mileage isn’t an issue – such as if the car has spent most of its life commuting between, say, Sydney and Canberra. (Highway miles are considered less taxing than in the city.) Also, service history is more important.
Unless it’s a very rare vehicle, it’s easier to sell your car in a major city center than a small, remote town simply because one might have four million people, the other 5000. There is an exception – a farm will be easier to sell in rural areas.
In theory, a car with 150,000km – with a full service history – should be worth more than a car with 75,000km and no service history. A full service history – meaning, you’ve had it maintained at the manufacturer’s recommended intervals, by an authorized service center – does wonders for your car’s resale value.
Remaining warranty and fixed price service agreement
If you buy your car brand new and it comes with a seven-year warranty – and you sell after four years – the remaining period is very attractive to buyers. Likewise, any fixed price servicing arrangements that came with the new car may still be in place.
It pays to take care of your car. If it is in good condition inside and out, without damage or blemishes, it will naturally be worth more.
Australians are lazy, so an automatic holds its value better than a manual. Unless it’s a sports car, and even then some models might be considered more desirable as an automatic than a manual, such as a PDK-equipped Porsche.
Color and trim
Conservative colors like white and gray hold their value better than bright, spooky colors like, say, fluro green. A silver car will only attract more people than a colored one. That’s why you see so many white and silver cars on the road. The same goes for the interior – you may have liked the leopard print seat trim when you first bought the car, but unfortunately few will. Again, there’s a reason most people choose black trim – it has the widest appeal come resale time. The opposite can be true for sports cars where bright colors may be more appreciated than dull ones.
Optional extras and aftermarket accessories
If you opt for a sunroof when you buy a new car, highlight this in any adverts as it means you can price the car slightly higher. The same goes if you’re in your Hilux and it has an expensive, quality bull bar fitted with branded LED light bars – or any other aftermarket accessories the new owner might want to fit (that you paid for, brand new).
Be aware that if it’s a sports car you’re selling, you’re often better off selling any aftermarket extras separately and reinstalling stock items (like wheels or exhaust).
Have you just put a 12 month rego on the car? Include it in the price (and definitely the ad). Sometimes it’s worth adding a bit of rego as it increases the perception of value. NSW, Victoria, SA, ACT and Tasmania offer three-month rego; while WA, Queensland and NT offer monthly rego. It’s certainly better than no rego – an unregistered car is worth a lot less than a registered car.
If you’ve just bought four new tyres, a new clutch, new brakes and a new windscreen wiper – or just paid for a major service – it will increase the value of the car.
In Victoria, cars must be sold with a Roadworthy Certificate (“RWC”) – but that can be arranged by either the seller or the buyer. If you are the seller and don’t supply the car with RWC, it is worth less because the buyer is risking possible mechanical repairs.
It’s the same story in Queensland and the ACT (if the car is over six years old). No other state or territory requires proof of roadworthiness to process a private sale. If you’re in Victoria, Queensland or the ACT, it’s highly recommended to have your roadworthy documentation ready before selling – and have it ready when selling the car. Note that in Victoria, RWCs are only valid for 30 days. In Queensland, the equivalent ‘safety certificate’ is valid for two months or 2000km, whichever comes first.
If your car has been scrapped but repaired, it is worth much less than a car that has never been in an accident. Although it is better rearranged than originally built brand new. People are afraid of accident repairs because there are so many dodgy smash repairs rushing out the door – and not fixing the car properly.
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Number of owners
The fewer owners, the better. If you’ve owned your car for 20 years since new, and you’re the only owner, your car is worth more than if it had an unknown number of owners. 16. Smoking. If you’ve smoked in a car – and you can smell it – the car is worth a little less. Besides, smoking ruins your health and costs you a lot of money, so you shouldn’t do it. Listen to your mom.