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How to Value a Used Car

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Step Two: Evaluating the Vehicles Condition

Next, we have to evaluate the condition of the vehicle. This is subjective, but I have included some simple benchmarks to make this evaluation easier. Keep in mind that most vehicles will fall under the “Good” or “Fair” categories:

Excellent – The used car is in perfect mechanical condition. The exterior is in “showroom condition,” meaning it is free of dings, dents, and body damage. The interior carpets and upholstery are clean and lack stains or burns. The tires match, and have significant tread remaining.

Good – The used car may have a few minor mechanical or electrical problems. The exterior is clean, with only minor door dings and scratches from routine wear-and-tear. The vehicle should be nearly rust-free. The interior carpets and upholstery will show minor wear with slight staining on the carpets. The tires will match, but their remaining tread life will be short. (Most vehicles less than five-years-old fall under this category.)

Fair – The used car will have several mechanical and electrical problems, but the engine runs and the vehicle can be driven. The exterior will have dings, scratches, and dents that will have to be repaired by professional. There may be rust on some body panels. The tires may not match, and their tread life will be limited. (Most vehicles more than five years old that are still driven daily fall under this category.)

Poor – The used car will have severe mechanical problems, and may not run properly. The exterior will be damaged, and there will be extensive rust. The tires will be mismatched, and in need of replacement. A vehicle with a “branded title” (salvage, flood, etc.) will fit into this category.

With that under our belt, it is time to take our information and review our local used car market...

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