What Does it Mean to Appraise Your Car?

by Gary Wright
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Appraising a car is the act of determining a market value after considering factors such as age, vintage, rarity, mileage and comparable sales. Appraising the value of an automobiles is a skill that anyone can learn but few actually master. Below are a few tips to learning the process of appraising automobiles.


In an informal appraisal, such as a method used by a car dealer judging the value of a trade in, the dealer will check the mileage, take the car for a ride, and check the value using the Kelley Blue Book.


During a formal appraisal, a specialist will inspect the car and determine if the make and model fall outside modern appraisal standards. An example would be appraising the value of a classic car, such as a 1957 Chevy. This model is outside a normal Blue Book check. A specialist would have to determine if a comparable model has sold at auction recently, if the car has original parts, and what the current market is paying for such models.

Kelly Blue Book

The Kelly Blue Book is an actual car value manual that has an online component. The Kelly Blue Book provides a guide for car values going back 20 years (after twenty years a car is considered a classic). The Kelly Blue Book takes into account condition, zip code location of the car, model variation and mileage when valuing a used car. The values are separated into three categories: private party sale price, trade-in value and dealer price.

Online Appraisals

Using the Internet to get an appraisal is simple as going to the Kelly Blue Book website (kbb.com) and entering information about the car and retrieving the fair market value. While the Blue Book is the standard for online auto appraisals, websites such as Ebay or Craigslist can provide a "real-life" example of what others are currently asking and receiving for similar cars.

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