How to Calculate Used Car Prices

by Kristen May

When you decide it is time to sell your used car, one of the most important things you can do to attract a good buyer is to set a reasonable asking price. If your vehicle is priced too high, many buyers will not even bother trying to bargain with you, but if it is priced too low, you will not get as much money for it as you could have. All used cars are different and you need to take many factors into account as you calculate a good price for your used car.


Check the odometer and record the current mileage of your used car.


Look up technical specifications about your car, including its make, model, year, engine size, the airbags it is equipped with, and other special features it may have, such as whether it has an alarm system.


Purchase a vehicle history report for your car from a reputable website such as CARFAX or Auto Check. You will need to enter your car’s VIN, or Vehicle Identification Number, to access this report. The VIN is printed under the lower driver’s side corner of the windshield, and you can read it by looking through the windshield from the outside. You may be able to skip this step if you have been the only owner of the car because you should know everything about the vehicle. However, potential buyers still may ask to see the report before purchasing the used car.


Assess your vehicle’s overall condition honestly. Vehicles in excellent condition have no known issues, are up to date on maintenance, may have been in a minor accident but had quality repairs done on all damaged parts and have no exterior or interior blemishes. Vehicles in good condition may have a few minor issues in areas listed above, but are still in very good working condition. Vehicles in poor condition may have known mechanical problems, dents or large scratches in the body of the vehicle and/or interior stains or rips in the upholstery.


Search the classified advertisements in your area for vehicles similar to yours that are being sold by private parties. Vehicles should be the same make and model, or at the most one model year different from yours and ideally have similar mileage and condition. Write down the vehicle information and asking price for each car you find.


Enter your car’s information into at least one online used car appraisal website such as those listed in the Resources section to find its estimated selling price.


Compare the estimated price of your vehicle with the asking price of the other similar cars being sold in your area and choose an asking price in that range. While doing this, you should also take into account any special features your car has that may increase its value, such as brand new tires or a special sound system.

About the Author

This article was written by the It Still Runs team, copy edited and fact checked through a multi-point auditing system, in efforts to ensure our readers only receive the best information. To submit your questions or ideas, or to simply learn more about It Still Runs, contact us.

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  • photo_camera car image by Muhammad Umair Tahir from