Guide to Pricing an Old Car

by Amy Kniss

You want to sell your old car but aren't sure what it's worth. You literally have a web of pricing resources at your fingertips via the Internet. While these sites provide excellent guidance for pricing your old car, and doing your homework is important, there are some other factors that you'll have to consider beyond Kelly Blue Book's sticker price.

Inventory the inside of the car. Make notes detailing the car's features and condition. Note the automatic and power features (windows, locks, air conditioning), the upholstery and its level of wear, the number of passengers the car seats, model, make and mileage. List anything that doesn't work (windshield wipers, seat belts, radio).

Examine the outside of the car. Check the body for scratches and dents. Confirm that the headlights, taillights, and break lights all work properly. Check the tires for wear. List your findings along with the results of interior inventory. You will need this information to help you determine what the car is worth and the selling price.

Take the car to a mechanic for an inspection.It is important that you know the condition of the engine before you attempt to sell the car. The prospective buyer will likely want to have the car looked over by a mechanic as well; so, if you don't want to be blindsided by any under-the-hood problems, have the car checked out.

Use the information you've gathered about your car's condition to find out what your car is worth. You can check out the Kelly Blue Book (the most commonly used reference guide for car prices in the U.S.) from your local library or online. You'll need to look up your car by make and model and then apply your car's attributes. This will give you a price range for your vehicle.

Look at the price range designated by KBB (or another assessment guide), which should take into account the region of the country (or by zip code) where you plan to sell the car. Once you have this information, you next need to consider mitigating factors, such as current economic conditions, your advertising options, your town's population and so on. After factoring this information into the price range, select an asking price a little higher than what you'd like to get for the car. This will allow some room for the buyer to negotiate the price without forcing you to settle for too low an amount.


  • check If your car does not sell at the price you set, consider donating it to charity and taking the tax credit. Setting an asking price higher than you expect to receive is a good idea, but don't set it so high it deters buyers.


  • close Make sure you do not lie about your car's condition or fudge the vehicle history, you don't want to face fraud charges.

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About the Author

Amy Kniss' goal is to help people make smarter financial decisions, and buying a home is among the biggest financial decisions most people make. When you’re informed about your housing budget, must-haves and loan options, purchasing a house can be a satisfying and exciting experience.