When you ask a car dealer, “How much is my car worth,” you’re not going to get the precise answer you’re looking for. During negotiations for a trade-in on a new car, a dealer answers the question, “How much is my car worth,” with the number that the car is worth to him in this particular deal. Most car dealerships only make money on new car sales, and they consider all trade-ins a nuisance. That means that any money they’re offering on your used car is being subtracted from the discount they’re giving you on the new car. Because you are both buying and selling a car in the same deal, it’s nearly impossible for you to determine exactly what your car is really worth by using the offer you receive from the dealer.

How Much Is My Car Worth on the Private Market?

You’ll need to estimate the value of your car in order to offer it for sale on the private market, but it’s a very inexact science. In the end, your car is only worth what someone else will pay you for it. You can rely on quotes from car buyers like http://www.1888paycashforcars.com, but offers from private buyers are not always as reliable. Where you live and how fast you need to sell it has as much of an effect on how much you get for your car as its book value.

Most estimating software and published appraisal books don’t make any allowances for the location of the car. If you run a classified ad in the local paper in a town with a population of 1,000, you’re much less likely to get full book value on a car because the potential pool of buyers is so small. While you might be able to get full value for the car if you’re willing to wait a long time, a seller in a big city might be able to sell their car in one day for the same price if they advertise it properly.

Image by Kim Seng

How Much Is My Car Worth as Scrap?

If your car isn’t currently running, that doesn’t mean that its value is strictly limited to what it will bring as scrap at a salvage yard. There are many ways for junkyards to make money on a non-running car. Some cars that don’t run can be repaired economically and returned to the road. Even though you don’t want to sink any more money into your older car, that doesn’t mean that no one will want to.

The best way to put a value on a non-running car is to make an estimate of all the repairs necessary to get it back on the road, and then subtract that amount from the book value of the car if it was running. If you contact a cash for cars company, and they make you an offer that coincides with the numbers you’ve come up with, you’ll know that you’re getting a good deal. Always use the retail cost of repairs when making these calculations. Salvage companies don’t work for free, and they will need to pay for parts and labor like any other business. They’ll get a better deal than you will because they do a lot of the work in-house, but it still costs money to get the car in running condition.

How Much Is My Car Worth as Parts?

If your car isn’t running, or was totaled in an accident, you may think it’s only good for scrap metal. While any car is worth at least something as scrap metal, there are many valuable components on cars that can be removed and sold to mechanics as used parts. There’s a large and thriving used parts market in the auto repair industry that you might never hear about. Brand-new parts from the original manufacturer are prohibitively expensive, so repair shops look for ways to save money for themselves and their customers. Brand new parts purchased from a car manufacturer often have a long lead-time in addition to a big price tag. That can also drive repair shops to find alternative sources for their parts.

That’s why your car is almost always worth more than you think to a scrapyard. There are literally dozens of components on a car that can be removed and sold to repair shops for more than their scrap metal value. Some examples of very valuable parts are catalytic converters, batteries, airbag assemblies, and motors from electric windows and seats.

How Much Is My Car Worth as a Charitable Deduction?

This is a much easier calculation to make than any other valuation of your car. Because the charity that accepts your car as a donation has no reason to undervalue your car, you can trust them not to purposely give you a low-ball number. They can make mistakes, however. That’s why it pays to check on the number they give you to make sure it’s an accurate appraisal of the value of your donated car.

There are many online appraisal tools you can use to put a proper value on a donated vehicle. If you’re able to supply corroborating evidence of your car’s value to a charity that accepts donations, they’ll gladly give you a receipt for the higher amount. In many cases, charities are run on a shoestring, and their clerical staffs are volunteers. They may be working with an outdated book for car values because the charity can’t afford to purchase a new edition every year. They’ll be grateful for any help you can give them.

How Much Is My Car Worth for Insurance Purposes?

Even if you don’t want to sell our car, there are many other reasons why you might want to know its full value. Many insurance companies will only pay you the book value of your car if it’s stolen or wrecked in an accident. For most people, that’s fine, but if your car is worth more than a standard version of the car, it’s important to insure it for more. If you add a lot of aftermarket equipment to your car or truck that increases its value, make sure that you make a list of modifications and submit them to your insurance company. That way, you’ll be protected for the full value of the automobile, not just the book value.

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