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Car valuations

Getting an accurate valuation for your car can be a tricky business. There are now a wide variety of ways to get a free online car valuation, with many UK websites promising to tell you the value of your car. But are they all accurate? Yes, and no. The value of your car will change depending on how you are looking to sell it and how in-demand your vehicle is at that moment in time.

The most important factor regarding your car’s value is the basic economics of supply and demand. If you have a common hatchback and the market is flooded with exactly the same model in exactly the same colour, then it’s likely the prices will be lower than you might expect on the used car market. However, if you have a prestigious, rare saloon car and only a hundred were made in a one-off factory run, then your car may even be worth more than you originally paid for it. You can compare prices to sell your car with Motorway.

There are many other material factors that will affect your car’s value. These include the obvious things like the car’s age, mileage and condition, but other things you may not have considered can also make a huge difference. Things like your car’s colour, fuel type, service history, emissions rating, location and even the time of year you are selling it.

For example, you may have noticed that some diesel car valuations have fallen as petrol cars are more in demand. This is largely due to low-emission zones in some cities affecting older diesel models and an array of new taxes targeting the now-considered ‘dirty’ fuel. More people are selling used diesel cars, rather than buying them and diesel prices have therefore fallen hard over the last few years.

You’ll also find that convertible cars go up in value during the summer months and down in the winter. Why? Well, few people want to put the roof down in the cold and rain, but when the sun comes out, people want to ride with their hair in the wind! Selling a convertible is usually advisable in the summer.

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How much is my car worth?

How much is your car actually worth? It’s a problematic question. First of all, most people tend to over-value their cars by looking at retail prices of cars for sale on classified websites like Auto Trader. This can lead to misunderstanding. Many cars ready to buy on sites like this are from dealerships which include things like warranties, finance and returns policies. Retail prices are not realistic valuations if you are looking to sell to a professional car buyer. You need to research multiple car valuation websites online to get an accurate idea of what your car will be worth when you sell it.

Even if you do your research, make sure you consider what your car is worth via all the selling routes – there are many to consider. Valuations will vary between dealers offering you money, private selling platforms and instant online buyer website.

Car values are simply not fixed, and much like other assets such as property, how much you can sell your car for will depend on who is buying it. A car is worth different amounts to different people. It will only ever be worth the price someone is willing to pay. 

For example, you’ll likely find that you can get more for your car by selling to a private buyer. This is because you’re selling directly to someone that wants your exact car. There is no middle man, or other transactions that need to happen in between. 

If you sell to a dealer or online buyer, the valuation for your car may be lower. This is because a dealer may have to spend further money to make it ready for the forecourt and may have to spend a long time finding a buyer for that car. They may even end up selling the car to another dealer if they can’t find a buyer for it in a reasonable timeframe. They have to take on risk, and risk costs money – hence the lower valuation. The same applies for online buyers who need to make a margin when they take your car to auction. All businesses need to make profit somewhere along the way.

So how can you determine your car’s true value? The answer, you can’t – you can only get a rough idea using online car valuations. Your car will be worth different amounts to different people.

how much is my car worth?

Used car valuation

When a car is brand new, it’s usually pretty easy to determine its value. The manufacturer will provide dealerships with a recommended retail price, and most dealerships will stick to that. However, with used cars, valuations are much more variable.

With used cars, depreciation comes into effect very quickly with most cars losing a staggering 15 – 35% of their value in the first year. For this reason, things get a little more complicated when trying to place an accurate value on a used car. Used cars also come with all kinds of specs and add ons, and if they’ve been driven for any kind of distance, there will inevitably be damage of some kind, even if it’s a few surface knicks or scratches . Could the gear box be on its last legs, is the cambelt about to break? It can be hard to tell. For private and car buyers alike, it can be very difficult to determine how well a car has been looked after.

Take two very similar cars, both have exactly the same mileage, they’re the same colour and specs and nearly everything appears identical. However, one has been driven up a 10 mile-long bumpy hill everyday of the week and the other has driven only now and again on smooth A-roads. Turning up as a buyer, you would have no idea that was the case and you’d immediately need to get to work checking mileage, condition and damage in-person. The point is, it’s hard to tell how well looked after a used car has been and it’s therefore very difficult to give an ‘exact’ valuation online. Used car valuations are therefore, to some extent, only ever an educated guess.

To account for this, most valuations are based on the ‘average’ condition of a car, based on its age, mileage and other factors like make, model, colour, damage and more.

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Online car valuation

Getting an online car valuation couldn’t be easier, with everyone from Parkers, Auto Trader, Gumtree, The AA, Confused.com, WhatCar and many many more all offering car valuations over the web. The list goes on and on. But which is the best, and is an online car valuation going to be accurate?

Online car valuations can be problematic, for a start, the website hasn’t seen your car in the flesh, these tools therefore have to make a number of assumptions about the condition and history of your car. Many will ask you questions about service history, damage and more but if anything is answered incorrectly then the valuations can vary wildly.

It’s very difficult to get a precise valuation for your car over the web, but online car valuation tools can be useful to get a ballpark figure. You can also get a free online selling valuation for your car with Motorway by entering your car’s reg in the box at the top of this page. But we are just one service. We also recommend that you value your car online on as many websites as possible – this will likely give you a range of prices but it should give you an idea of the region of your car’s value. 

Just keep in mind these online car valuation tools will give you a price based on the information you input. Make sure to be as honest as possible when answering questions about the condition and history of your car when you select a buyer, and make sure it’s looking good and  is well prepared for a sale. If you don’t look after the basics, the valuations you receive could be way off the mark.

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