When it's time to upgrade your vehicle, the first step is offloading your current vehicle, and two options present themselves: sell it or trade it. Selling and trading each has its pros and cons, but before deciding which is best for you, you’ll want to understand how to determine what our current vehicle is worth to help you estimate your new car budget.
Fortunately, valuation tools are available to answer the question, "How much is my car worth?" We'll cover these tools and offer a more streamlined alternative to them below.
To get your vehicle’s current market value, you can spend hours scouring the internet looking for similar cars for sale and their prices. The problem is that the year, make, and mileage are only a few of the variables that impact how much your car is worth. You must also consider the condition, Carfax history, colour, location, financing rates, and more. You can also skip all the legwork and check out a car valuation service that has already done all this for you.
Sites like Kelley Blue Book have sourced data on new and used cars to determine their base value, the value of options added, and more. They then scale the resale value based on the condition and mileage of your vehicle and whether you plan to use it as a trade-in or make a private sale.
Canadian Black Book once offered a private party value tool for vehicles, but it’s since migrated to only offering trade-in values.
Trading your vehicle has some tax incentives, which can add an extra layer to determining your vehicle's value when selling it privately versus trading it in.
For example, you can sell a Honda Civic privately for $11,000 or trade it for $10,000 in Ontario. The private sale may seem the no-brainer in this case. However, the vehicle’s total trade-in value at a dealership would be $11,300 if you consider the fact that you only pay sales taxes on the difference between your vehicle’s value and the new vehicle being purchased. Given Ontario has a 13% HST, that’s $1,300 in tax savings ($10,000 x 0.13 = $1,300), so your car’s total trade-in value, including tax savings, is $11,300. That’s $300 more than the private sale.
These valuation sites are free, but there's no guarantee you'll get an accurate valuation for your vehicle. These services give you a rough price range, but the ultimate sale price depends on the demand for your vehicle in your local area and ever-changing market conditions.
When selling your vehicle privately on the open market, you've got to set an initial asking price for your used vehicle. Canadian Black Book and Kelley Blue Book can each give you a good ballpark range for the value of your car.
Canadian Black Book no longer offers the ability to find private party pricing. It only offers trade-in estimates.
On Kelley Blue Book (KBB) click the "Select Make" dropdown box and choose the make of your vehicle, then do the same for the model and click "Search." We'll use the same 2018 Ford Focus Titanium 4D Sedan for this example.
Scroll down to find and click the year, fuel type, and transmission type that matches your vehicle on the next page. Then click on the trim level and body style that matches your vehicle.
On the next screen, click "Private Party Value," then enter the kilometres and your car's condition. For example, we chose 50,000 km and "Very Good" condition. If you want to add optional equipment, click the "Edit Optional Equipment" button.
KBB will now list what it expects car buyers to be willing to pay for your vehicle.
For our example, Ford Focus, KBB estimates a private party value of $20,703 and a fair price range of $19,856 to $21,551.
When trading in your vehicle, CBB and KBB are great resources but expect the values to be lower than the private party value. This is because dealerships must account for their resale price and any reconditioning the vehicle may need.
If you're using CBB, click “Value Your Vehicle” at the top of the homepage. Scroll down to “Let’s Get Your Trade-In Value” Start typing the year, make, and model in the “Enter Vehicle Year, Make, and Model” text box, then choose your vehicle from the list.
Enter the Kilometres and postal code as prompted and click "Next: Vehicle Options." We'll use all the same details as before: K2H1A1 for our postal code, 2018 for the model year, and 50,000 for our kilometres.
Next, choose your vehicle's options and click "Next: Your Information." Enter your personal information as prompted, including your phone number, address, and more. Scroll down to specify the next car you plan to purchase when replacing your current vehicle.
Check the box to agree to the terms and conditions, then click “Verify Your Phone.” Verify your phone number is accurate and choose whether you’d prefer a verification text or phone call. Enter the PIN you receive by phone and click “Get Your Value” to get your trade-in value.
On KBB, the process is nearly identical to finding the private party used car value. Click the "Select Make" dropdown box and choose your vehicle's make. Click the "Select Model" dropdown and choose your vehicle's model. Click "Search." We'll use the same 2018 Ford Focus Titanium 4D Sedan for this example.
Next, scroll down and click the year, fuel, and transmission types matching your vehicle. Then click on your vehicle's trim level.
On the next screen, click "Trade-In Value," then enter the kilometres and your estimated vehicle condition. For our example Ford Focus, we chose 50,000 km and "Very Good" condition.
If your vehicle has optional equipment, click the "Edit Optional Equipment" button and choose its options. KBB will now list your vehicle's value as a trade.
For our example, Ford Focus, KBB estimates a trade-in value of $12,479 and an expected trade-in range of $11,663 to $13,295.
These valuation tools offer great insight into your vehicle's value but aren't all-knowing. Other variables KBB and CBB don't account for can still impact your vehicle's value. Here are a few variables to keep in mind:
Car buyers want a vehicle that's sure to last, and a full record of the vehicle's service history is a great way to show you meticulously maintained your vehicle. With these records, you can expect a buyer to pay on the upper end of the price range for your vehicle.
If a buyer tries haggling with you, use this impeccable service history as a selling point for your car. The best way to showcase this is by saving all your service invoices or bringing your vehicle to a dealership that records your service history on its Carfax report.
Vehicle history is another concern in the car buying process. If a car's been in an accident, flooded, or damaged, it could lower its value. If your vehicle never had any of these issues, and you want to prove it, simply pull a Carfax report to show a prospective buyer.
A clean accident record should help ease their mind and get you top dollar for your car.
Many people who try to sell their vehicles privately compare their vehicle's price to similar ones sold by dealerships. After weeks of being unable to sell, they lower the price but wonder why dealerships can sell the same vehicle for more.
If you were purchasing a Toyota Corolla, would you rather pay $15,000 to Joe from Mississauga? Or buy that Corolla from a large, reputable, established business that has sold hundreds of similar vehicles that month for the same price. Most people opt for the latter.
When you buy from a reputable business like Clutch, you are typically getting:
For all the added value above, who wouldn’t want to buy from a reputable dealer?
Getting a valuation from KBB or CBB never guarantees what you’ll get for your vehicle in a private party sale or trade-in. They are simply estimates based on data available at that time. Then there's the hassle of going to traditional car dealers to get an accurate value while they try to sell you another vehicle. You can also go through the headaches of listing the car for sale privately and spending time on emails, texts, calls, lowballers, tire kickers, and no-shows.
You can answer your question, “How much is my car worth,” and skip all these headaches with Clutch, Canada's first 100% online vehicle retailer. We have an online vehicle valuation tool that will give you a firm offer after entering just a little information about your vehicle.
All done from the comfort of your home at a time that’s convenient for you. No more taking time off work to bring your vehicle to the car dealership and waiting for a used car manager to do an in-person inspection to get the value of your vehicle. Experience the quick and hassle-free future of selling your vehicle today.
You can use this offer to trade in your vehicle for a quality Clutch pre-owned car or sell it to us. Either way, we'll pick the vehicle up and handle the paperwork, saving you time and stress.