RAC Cars News


How do I value my car?

By raccars Published

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'How do I value my car?' should be one of the first questions when you're ready to sell.

The answer really depends on to whom you plan to sell the car. Dealer trade-ins will be valued lower than a private sale. You are invariably asked for a value when you are applying for car insurance, and giving the correct response can save you a great deal of money in the event of a claim. Car buyers tend to ask themselves the same question, as they want to be sure they aren't being ripped off when buying a used car.

Fortunately you can use the RAC car valuation tool to help you settle on the correct price for your car. There are also a few other factors to take into account, including depreciation.


When you buy a car brand new, you have to accept that you will be hit with depreciation when you come to sell, sometimes painfully. The general rule is that you can expect your car to lose 60 per cent of its original value over the first three years, assuming average mileage. For example, a car for which you paid £25,000 brand new will be worth about £10,000 if you were to sell it three years later. Of course there are a number of individual factors to take into account but if you expect the worst you're less likely to get an unpleasant surprise.

Given that the majority of depreciation happens in the first three to five years, it starts to slow down after that. By the time a car is eight years old its price will stabilise. However depreciation rates vary quite dramatically by manufacturer.

For example in the UK, Land Rovers and Teslas hold their value better than other brands. Meanwhile the MG6 Magnette saloon 1.8T was recently named Britain's worst depreciating car, losing 79 per cent of its original value over three years. Premium brand cars usually hold on to their value better than cheaper brands.

Mileage is also a major contributory factor to depreciation rates, while condition is also important. Keeping it clean and maintaining the service schedule will help to maintain the value of your car. If you have some small scratches and dents it may be worth having them repaired as buyers respond better to immaculate examples.

Look at the season too, because SUVs and 4x4s sell better in winter and convertibles and sports cars command a premium in the warmer months.

So how do I value my car?

The best way to get additional information about the value of a car to back up the information provided by our car valuation tool is through research. Scour the classifieds for cars in your make and model and of the same age, and see what price they are advertised at, taking mileage and condition into consideration. If you plan to sell to a dealer, you will have to accept that you will receive a lower offer, as they will need to make a profit somewhere. Similarly, don't value a car you plan to sell privately by comparing it to prices at dealers; these command a premium as a result of the availability of warranties and finance deals.

RAC Car Passport

You can also add some value by investing in an RAC Car Passport seller's report, which will give your buyer information about the car's history so they can be sure it has not been stolen and that the mileage is genuine. This also provides details of running costs and an independent review from 'What Car?', among other useful features. Providing this information for the customer saves them the job of seeking it out and could lead to an easier sale.

You can also consult professional valuers such as Glass's and CAP, although you may have to pay a fee to receive a valuation. Bear in mind that most customers will be prepared to haggle, so you may wish to add a few pounds on top of the recommended price to account for discounts.

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