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How car valuations can save you money

Can you think of an item other than cars or houses where you generally expect to haggle over the price of what you’re buying? And let’s face it, very few people are haggling houses down these days. The critical difference between the two is that you would never sell or buy a house without getting a valuation, and surprisingly enough you can do the same for cars, too.

You could be thinking is this really needed – after all, it had a price on it when you bought it, and you’re expecting an offer when you sell it – but the level of consistency on offers can be wildly different. Dealers want to make a profit, and when you sell you don’t want to end up asking too much to get a sale, or so little you’ve lost money.

So by using a simple Value my Car tool you can gain the confidence to ask for the price it’s really worth – most tools like this one are free to use too.

How do car valuations work?

For buying and selling cars in large numbers, or insurance valuation purposes, the trade monitors the auction results, trade sale prices and retail prices of cars across the board. That generally provides a very clear picture of what each model is worth to a buyer, what can be financed without risk, and what a fair insurance payout or repair threshold is.

But dealers rely on local market conditions and, in all honesty, what they think they can ask. So there’s a lot of scope for you to make sure you’re getting the best deal when trading in your car – or buying a new one.

Whenyour car finance ends– a valuation could reveal hidden cash

Many cars are sold in the UK using PCP finance schemes, where there’s a final payment to buy the car or you can hand it back, but you won’t get any money regardless of the car’s value (you might even be charged for stonechips or damaged wheels).

Those payments are often low enough to help you into your next new car, but if you don’t want to stay with the same brand you should get a valuation and see how much extra the car is worth. After all – they expect the value on the contract, not the actual value of the car at the time; why give the dealer all that profit?

If it’s much more than the final payment, try some online car buying services such as Motorway, or even your local dealers, to see if they will buy the car outright and settle the finance.

Selling your car – how to use a valuation

When it’s time to change your car, get a valuation for your year, make, model and mileage. Don’t take that as the last word – it reflects trade and retail averages – but it’s a very good starting point for your expectations.

Look for similar models on eBay – don’t forget to check the completed listings button in the search filters – and if you have time, look at the pictures to judge the condition. If your car is lower mileage, cleaner, better presented and has more comprehensive history, then you can consider a value between the valuation and the eBay figures you’re seeing ‘a fair price’, and you can further check AutoTrader, Parkers and Gumtree for a wider picture.

The money-saving part comes in when it’s time to trade in. Now you know what your car is really worth, ask for a price for your next car with and without part exchange. If the dealer is offering too little for your car, you can haggle with confidence – or choose to sell your car privately and buy your next model without trading in.

Buying a car – putting the valuation to work.

When buying, the valuation could be worth hundreds in savings. If you’re looking at cars from a smaller, local dealer rather than a large group the price could be months out of date, or justoptimistic – so be informed before you look at the car.

With the valuation you can assume a typical, good condition car with the miles claimed. If the dealer’s price is much higher, then take the time to look the car over before haggling – if it feels particularly unworn or is a very nice specification, you might be happy enough with the asking price, but if it’s a car with hundreds of similar examples you can point to the valuation as a starting point to negotiate.

Used car values fluctuate as well – it may be that the dealer is asking less than a current valuation, and you’ve found a bargain. It’s more likely the car needs work, or has history of accident damage or repairs, but it’s worth investigating if it’s car you want particularly if it’s an older model where a repairable write off marker (category S or N) could just mean cosmetic damage repaired well.

Car valuations with insurance

Most of the time, insurance companies are working from the same data as you are – but that doesn’t mean they’re going to offer a fair value for your written off car right away. If you need to deal with your insurance for a damage claim that could write your car off, get valuations for your particular specification and mileage, plus at least three adverts for similar cars for sale from different sources. They won’t pay for a better car – but they should work to ensure you get a comparable replacement.

Of course, armed with your valuation and research, you should then be able to find a bargain.


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