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Factors affecting your car value

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The price of a car, like that of a house, is influenced by an almost dizzying number of factors. While make, model and year of production dictate the broad price range your car will achieve, other factors can mean the difference of thousands of pounds in your final sale price. Many of these factors are difficult to change, but there are things you can do to improve the value of your car prior to sale.

The basic factors influencing your car value are the make, model, year of production and version. The price ranges can be discovered for free using car valuation services such as Parkers, Glass's and CAP. With some cars the differences between price achievable for good and poor condition cars is low enough that making changes to your car won't be worthwhile, but with other models you could see a difference of several thousand pounds between cars that rolled off the production line after each other, depending on their conditions.

Getting your car’s valuation

It's important to get a valuation from a company like Parkers before adjusting for other factors. These valuations are accurate as they are based on information supplied by dealerships as well as the monitoring of other sales venues. The companies supplying the data also give dealerships pricing guides, and if their valuations weren't accurate they'd quickly go out of business.

You can get reasonably accurate data for free from these supplies, but they'll often charge a small amount to adjust for mileage and optional extras. For instance, Parkers currently charge £3.49, about the cost of a pint and very much a worthwhile investment. Mileage is one of the key factors that influence valuation, as a car with half the miles of a typical car of its age is far less likely to encounter mechanical failure.

Final value of your car

The best venue for reaching a national audience is undoubtedly AutoTrader or Motors.co.uk but listing here can also be expensive. If you're not in a rush you could consider some of the free or cheaper alternatives first. Other venues include Piston Heads, Exchange and Mart and Car Pages

Key to a quick sale is being available for buyers to contact. Reply to enquiries quickly, be flexible about when they can view the car, answer the phone when it rings and be prepared to haggle. Most buyers will try to reduce the price they pay, even if just by £50.

Factors affecting your cars value

Condition of your car

The most obvious of the factors which affect the car’s value is the condition of the car. This includes how much wear and tear the car has, as well as actual damage and previous repairs. How much each item of damage will reduce the value by depends on the car, so while a chip in a door might reduce an expensive car by hundreds it might barely impact the price of another car. Some car valuation services are able to give you an idea of how much each piece of damage will have on your final sale price. In many cases you could repair the problem for less than the value reduction, not repairing it will cost you. For instance, you might be able to buy a replacement headlight for £20 on eBay, but if you didn't replace the broken light the value of your car might go down by hundreds of pounds.

Service history

Having a full service history can increase the value of a car because it will assure potential buyers that at you've looked after the vehicle and had it regularly checked by professionals. Keep the receipts from these services so you can show interested parties

Car colour

Car colour also can have a major impact on sale price. In most cases it isn't worth the expense of paying for a respray, but you should keep this in mind if you’re struggling to sell. There's no hard and fast rule of which colours will put off buyers as unpopular colours for one model can be popular on another car.


If you've made modifications to your car you're likely to find these will have an impact on the value. Most buyers prefer unmodified cars so you might find that you lose value if you've modified your vehicle, however in a minority of cases your modification may have increased value if there is an active market in modifications for your particular vehicle model. Even when buyers don't mind the fact that a car has been modified, they might be worried about the insurance implications of a modified car. Some insurers will even refuse to insure a car for simple modifications such as alloy wheels. Even modifications such as a more expensive stereo can reduce the value of your car.

The sales venue

As well as factors influenced by your car, there's also the question of where you sell it. One of the largest determinants of value is the sales venue. The highest prices are almost always achieved through private sales, but the downside of selling your car this way is that it involves a longer wait and much more work advertising and meeting buyers. Other methods such as selling to a dealership or through auction are quicker, but the valuation will be lower.

Other factors

In addition to venue of sale, other factors such as location and time of year can have a major impact. Certain types of cars sell better in certain geographic regions, so for instance you might achieve more for a sports car in London than you would elsewhere, but an off road vehicle might sell better in upland areas such as Cumbria or the Highlands. While a cabriolet might sell better in Spring than Autumn, waiting for a better season is likely to reduce the value through depreciation more than the seasonal fluctuation would increase it.

Never underestimate the value of presentation when selling your car. Ensuring that your vehicle is perfectly clean and polished can make potential buyers put the faults of the vehicle to the back of their minds. You could get a professional cleaner in to clean your car, but it's often just as easy to purchase the necessary fabric cleaners, polish and cloth and clean it yourself. A clean car typically has more impact on private sales than at dealerships, who will always clean the car themselves no matter what condition they buy it in.

Factors affecting car value
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