For what it’s worth, here are some tips on trading in, or selling, your car


What is your current vehicle worth?

That’s a question you need to be able to answer before you sell or trade it.

Unless you want to be completely at the mercy of a private party buyer or a dealer who knows more about its value than you do, running the risk of getting a lower price than you should.

“Before you sell or trade in your car, it’s vital to know its current value,” said U.S. News & World Report Best Cars in How Much Is My Car Worth? “This will help you select the best price for your situation and get the most money for your car.”

Fortunately, resources are available online to find the answer relatively quickly.

Let’s say you purchased a three-year-old sedan in 2015 and that you’re thinking about selling it yourself or trading it in on an updated model, maybe a 2015.

Several websites that will provide you a value relatively quickly are Kelley Blue Book, Edmunds.com, Cars.com, CarGurus and Autoblog – and that’s just on the first page of Google search results. Still, these calculators should be enough to provide what you need.

The sites also can help if you haven’t already decided whether to sell it yourself or trade it in.

Here’s what they tell us about our example 2012 sedan in good condition with 60,000 miles:

Kelley Blue Book

  • Trade-in value: $6,374-$7,409 range, with a typical value of $6,892
  • Private-party sale: $8,420-$9,957 range, with a typical value of $8,943

Edmunds.com

  • Trade-in value: $5,144-$6,351
  • Private-party sale: $6,456-$7,972

Cars.com

  • Trade-in value: $5,320-$8,005
  • Private-party sale: $7,425-$9,925

CarGurus

  • Trade-in value: $5,810
  • Private-party sale: $8,626

Autoblog

  • Trade-in value: $8,105
  • Private-party sale: $8,459

Combined, the trade-in value in our example ranges from $5,144-$8,105 with a midpoint of $6,625 or about the same price as the typical value in KBB’s range.

The private-party value ranges from $6,456-$9,957 with a midpoint of $8,206 or about the same as the low end of the KBB range and the high end of the Edmunds.com range.

What does this mean to you?

Well, you can take the time to run your vehicle through these five calculators – and any others that you can find – and attempt to sort out the results as we did, pick one calculation and go with it, or start at the high end of these estimates and leave yourself some negotiating room.

In this case, you could start around $10,000 for a private-party sale (near the highest estimates by KBB and Cars.com), and go for $8,000 as a trade in (about what Cars.com and Autoblog estimate).

These estimates might suggest it would be a no-brainer to sell your vehicle to a private party for an extra $2,000 than trade it in to a dealership, but, remember, that also means all the detailing, advertising, selling, negotiating, paperwork, etc., would be up to you.

For some people it may be worth the hassle. For others, not so much.

Either way, you’re better equipped to make a deal.