Once you've performed an interior, exterior and mechanical appraisal of your car, it's time to determine the vehicle's book value. This value, established by the experienced editors at NADAguides.com, is a starting point in determining your car's fair market value.
To begin, you need to research the make, model, year and mileage information at the used car section of NADAguides.com. This information is the fundamental foundation upon which all other assessments of value are built. Once you've entered the make, model, year and mileage data, you'll be provided with a value report outlining several different values, including their descriptions.
The range of values listed on the NADAguides.com vehicle value report is directly related to the year of your car. Late model used vehicles are provided with two values average trade-in and average retail. An average trade-in value is the price you could expect to receive from a dealer should you decide to trade in your used car. An average retail value is the price you could expect to receive if you sold the vehicle to a private party or the dealer's asking price on a used car lot. Older used cars are provided with three values: low, average and high retail. Again, depending on your vehicle's condition, this is the range of value you could expect to receive if you sold the vehicle or the vehicle's asking price assigned by a dealer at a used car lot.
The Trade-In and Retail values represent a car in good condition and any future repairs should be deducted from the expected price. Look at your car as if you were a potential buyer and point out the things you see wrong and would want replaced or repaired. These items will all impact the overall value of your vehicle.
Following is the complete description of what each valuation criteria means from the NADAguides.com used car pricing report.
Low Retail Value: A low retail vehicle may have extensively visible wear and tear. The body may have dents and other blemishes. The buyer can expect to invest in bodywork and/or mechanical work. It is likely that the seats and carpets will have visible wear. The vehicle should be able to pass local inspection standards and be in safe running condition. Low retail vehicles usually are not found on dealer lots.
Average Retail: An average retail vehicle should be clean and without glaring defects. Tires and glass should be in good condition. The paint should match and have a good finish. The interior should have wear relative to the age of the vehicle. Carpet and seat upholstery should be clean, and all power options should work. The mileage should be within the acceptable range for the model year. An average retail vehicle on a dealer lot may include a limited warranty or guarantee, and possibly a current safety and/or emission inspection (where applicable).
Note: Vehicles with low mileage that are in exceptionally good condition and/or include a manufacturer certification can be worth significantly more than the average retail price shown.
High Retail: A high retail vehicle should be in flawless condition. All power equipment should be functional. The paint should match and have a high gloss finish. The carpet and seat upholstery should be clean and have minimal wear. The engine should start quickly and run smoothly. The tires should be like new with a spare and jack. The mileage should be significantly below the acceptable mileage range for the model year.
Average Trade-In: An average trade-in vehicle should be clean and without glaring defects. Tires and glass should be in good condition. The paint should match and have a good finish. The interior should have wear in relation to the age of the vehicle. Carpet and seat upholstery should be clean and all power options should work. The mileage should be within the acceptable range for the model year. The average trade-in value is a national average calculated from the Official Used Car Guide's ten regions. The average trade-in value for your vehicle could be higher or lower than the national average due to your local market conditions.