Used car price guides: how much is my car worth?
Our car price guide will help you get a fair valuation for your car
Used car prices in the UK have been unpredictable over the past few years due to world events and supply shortages. This can make finding the book value of your car harder, and when it comes time to sell your car, it can be difficult to calculate a fair asking price. However, there are tools to make it easy, whether it’s using a free used car price guide or entering your registration number on our sister site Auto Express’ valuation tool to get an up-to-date figure.
The amount you buy or sell a car for also depends on your circumstances. If you need to sell a car quickly and want to attract buyers’ attention, you’ll want to put it up for a lower, more attractive price; knowing the car’s value means you’re aware of the discount you’re offering. Ask for too much, on the other hand, and you’ll find the car fails to attract any attention at all.
Every car has its own history and no one used car is identical to another. Each will have a unique service history, number of previous owners and total mileage – all which need to be factored in when working out a car’s value. If you’re thinking of selling your car, read our guide to find out how to get the best deal by setting an accurate price.
How much is my car worth?
You’ll have to consider three main variables when working out the value of your car: the vehicle’s age, mileage and condition. Other factors also have an influence, such as whether the car has an automatic or manual gearbox, and whether the car has a petrol, diesel, hybrid or electric powertrain. Market demands can have an influence on this, so valuations can go out of date in a matter of months.
It’s easy to overlook, but your car’s value also depends on where in the country it is. Used car prices tend to be higher in the south compared to the north. The time of year can also have an effect on your car’s value – you’ll find that convertible car prices go up during spring, and SUVs in autumn and winter.
Optional extras can have an effect on the price, too, depending on how desirable they are. In some cases, a lack of extras can also be detrimental to a used car's value, particularly if it’s missing an item that most similar cars came with, like alloy wheels or air-conditioning. The easiest way to determine if your car stands out from the crowd is by searching used car websites for similar examples to your own car, and seeing what the majority of vehicles similar to yours have as advertised extras – to learn more about how options can affect prices, see our guide to optional equipment.
A car sold by a dealer will be more expensive than one sold by a private individual, so bear that in mind when setting your price. A dealer has many more costs including VAT on their profit, refurbishment expenses and overheads to consider. Cars sold from dealerships also often come with extra perks like a warranty or a fresh MoT. People accept this and will pay a dealer’s higher price. However, you can maximise the price of your vehicle by mimicking the benefits of buying from a dealer. Getting a new MoT shows potential buyers they have less chance of a costly repair within the next year. If you have any outstanding warranty on your vehicle that can be transferred to a new owner make this clear in the advert to make it even more appealing to buyers.
Using the used-car price guides
There are several used-car price guides you can refer to for pricing information. The most famous are Glass’s and CAP. These are favoured by the motor trade, although there are plenty of others available online.
Using one of the valuation tools, you’ll find there are four guide values.
Dealer price – The price of the car at a dealer.
Private sale – The price of the car when offered by a private seller.
Part-exchange value – What a dealer will offer you for your car if you want to trade it in against one they’re selling.
The trade price – This is usually split into three categories with names like poor, average, and clean. Essentially giving a different value depending on the condition of the car. This is what traders use to value cars they buy for stock
Remember, these are just guide prices and open to interpretation. They’re no reliable indicator of condition, either, so if you’re serious, have the car’s history checked and if it stacks up, have the vehicle inspected.
How to get a free valuation
You don’t have to pay for a valuation. Instead, check the classifieds to see what a similar car to yours is being advertised for. Some sites will value your car for free in return for personal information (name and email address, for example), which you may or may not be happy to provide.
Some classified sites will suggest an asking price for your car if you intend to sell it. It’s all useful data that can help inform your selling price.
When pricing your car, remember that some sites set price bands for people to search. This means that if you set your price just above £6,000 for example, it won’t be seen by anyone looking in the ‘up to £6,000’ bracket, but will be among the first to be seen by those looking at spending £6,000 and more.
How to price an older car
Most price guides don’t give valuations for cars older than 10 years. It’s not surprising, since cars of that age can vary so much in mileage and condition that any guidance can only be very general.
Buyers of older cars are usually either looking for a particular car that interests them, or they’re in need of a suitable vehicle without a high price tag. Older cars are generally viewed with different considerations than newer vehicles, with lower expectations that the car is reliable and in good working order. Older car buyers may be more concerned about service history, repairs to known faults, and overall condition than whether it is fitted with a particular optional extra or painted a certain colour.
Many cheap cars and so-called bargains may be described as ‘Cat C’ or ‘Cat D’ (or 'Cat N' and 'Cat S', more recently). These are terms for varying degrees of insurance write-off. Fortunately, they’re the less serious kind, but could still require work and may be difficult to insure. See our guide to write-offs including Cat D and Cat C cars for more.
Pricing a classic car
Generally, a car older than 25 years is regarded as a classic, although officially a ‘historic vehicle’ is 40 years old and can become MoT and tax exempt. If it’s still attracting a following at this age, there’ll be a loyal band of experts who’ll help you find out a fair price, whether you’re buying or selling.
Condition is an important aspect of a classic car’s value, with the full spectrum of cars available from rusty barn finds, to good condition usable classics, all the way to complete rebuilds. History is important, and completely original cars with thick folders supplied to give buyers the story of the car's life are some of the most desirable.
Due to this wide variety, classics can be particularly hard to value. If you are selling one with an active enthusiast community it can be easier to gauge its value.
In the case of a rare vehicle that may be one of only a few remaining, specialists' auctions are sometimes better than selling yourself as they will likely have seen other cars like yours before, and be able to give you a good idea of the market.
We would always advise speaking to classic experts before attempting to value your own classic.
If you’re looking to sell your car, read our handy guide so that you can safely sell a car at the best price.
Money-saving tips when buying a car
Best new car deals 2024: this week’s top car offers
Used car deals of the week
What is an HPI check?
Car warranties explained: what’s covered in a new or used car warranty
Hot car deal: sporty Skoda Octavia vRS Estate for £278 a month
Hot car deal: racy Cupra Ateca SUV for just £234 a month
All-new KGM Torres is a £35k SUV from reborn SsangYong