Valuing Your Used Car

It takes a range of factors, including mileage and condition, when valuing your used car.

If you’re in the middle of a new car purchase, chances are you’ve thought about what to do with your current car. Your dealer will almost certainly offer to give you trade-in credit for it, but it’s fair to be skeptical at first. Once you understand the factors that determine a used car’s value, however, you may find you walk away with a good deal after all.


Mileage is the single biggest factor in a used car’s value. It is an objective indicator of how long the car has been used. Mileage also helps buyers get an idea of any wear and tear on major components, like the engine and transmission.

Cars with a lower odometer reading will almost always hold a higher value than those with a high one. Think about it: cars have a set lifespan. A car with 80,000 miles on it has a lot more to give than one with 120,000 miles.


This is where things get a little subjective. Kelley Blue Book ranks car conditions as: Fair, Good or Excellent. We’ll go ahead and let you know up front: your years-old car probably won’t qualify for Excellent condition. Excellent condition refers to a car that’s virtually free of any cosmetic damage or mechanical defect. Even a garage-kept car is bound to accumulate some wear and tear over the years.

Condition also refers to how your car’s interior looks. Things like broken electrical outlets and cracked leather seats will need to be repaired before a potential buyer can be interested in the car. You may have gotten used to your car’s quirks over the years, but even used car buyers expect a quality product from their dealer.


It’s not a perfect science, but some options have been shown to improve a used car’s value and resale factor. Options like heated seats, sunroof and leather seats will generally improve a car’s value, assuming they are all in good condition.

We know every car owner wants to get the absolute most for their car when it’s time to trade it in. However, it’s important to keep your expectations in check. Most of the time, even the most well-maintained cars need a little work before they’re ready to hit the lot. If you’re walking around your car and noticing paint chips and rust spots, odds are a potential buyer will notice them too. And they certainly won’t pay a premium for them.

Tailored Auto’s car buying services include trade-in consultation. Our experts will ensure you get the best-possible value for your car, without having to negotiate on every minor detail. Drop us a line and let’s get started.