Buyers Guide: Used Car Valuation

Used Car Valuations

When it's time to upgrade to a new car most people need to get rid of their old one pretty quickly and this often means part exchange. Part exchanging your used car for a newer model can be great for numerous reasons. Perhaps the best reason is that it saves you the hassle of a private sale and offers an easy way to sell your current vehicle. There's also the added benefit of not having to store a second car and making room for the important things in life, like your new one!

For this article to make sense it is important to remember that there are two price points in car sales - retail and trade. Trade is the price that we offer to buy your car at and retail is the price we sell the car at once we've carried out our preparations.

Contrary to popular belief dealers don't just buy a car at trade and slap on a big old profit. Before we can retail a car we need to make sure that it is up to our standards. This means repairing damaged bodywork, fixing any mechanical issues and treating the vehicle to a professional valet. We also need to offer a warranty with the vehicle and factor in our marketing costs. This is all before we even think about adding a profit margin.

keep reading to see the process we go through to ensure a used car is valued correctly and decide whether to accept it as part exchange...

Used Car Base Value

Unless your used car is an obscure rarity, it will have an industry recognised trade value. There are many valuation tools available but the one we use most often is Glasses guide which is a respected valuation service. 

The price we get from Glasses guide assumes that the car is presentable and is in working order. Due to the state of car sales at the minute these prices can fluctuate wildly form month to month. For this reason we also do our own market research before coming up with a starting point.

Used Car Bodywork

While it doesn't necessarily effect the drive of a vehicle, cosmetic condition is an important part of used car valuations. No one wants a horrible dent or scratch in their new car so if we are going to be asking retail money we need to correct any damage and factor this into our costs.

Minor dents or dings aren't a cause for concern as we understand that these come with most used cars. What we are looking for here is obvious signs of damage that drastically reduce the cosmetic appeal of the vehicle. This could be broken plastics, dented panels or deep scratches for example. 

Bodywork damage can also be a sign of accident damage which our team will make sure to check for when doing our mechanical checks.

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With most second hand dealerships you are often supplied with a third party warranty. We don't entertain that idea and offer all of our sales cars with the full backing of our professional workshop. Because of this we need to make sure that we are confident in what we are buying.

Our technicians will perform a thorough mechanical check that is designed to pick up on any faults that may effect the drive of the car. Our technicians will typically be looking to inspect the drive train, suspension and brake systems. They will also look for any major corrosion or damage under the vehicle. We may take the car for a small test drive to get a feel for how the car drives and to listen out for any unusual knocks or bangs. 

If we do find anything seriously wrong with the vehicle it isn't the end of the world however we will need to factor this into our offer. 


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Used Cars Service History

We always like to provide our cars with a full service history if possible. When checking over a potential part exchanges history we will look for clues as to how well the car has been looked after. A good service history always gives us more confidence in your vehicle and shows us that you have cared for it appropriately.

We will often look for either dealership or trusted independent stamps in a book and look to establish if anything is due. For example, if the cars engine is belt driven, we will take into account whether or not we would need to do this before selling the car on to its next owner. 

along with checking the paperwork we also like to see that a car has a second or spare key available.

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The one thing that everyone understands in car sales is that lower mileage means more money. We are always looking for low mileage stock with a good service history however we aren't opposed to a higher mileage trade in if the car is otherwise in good condition. This is especially true for diesel powered cars that are designed for long distance driving and can deal well with higher mileage.

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Age is more than just a number. Save for classics, the older a car is the less it will be worth in most instances. Older cars can suffer with age related problems like perishing rubber components and electrical issues. This means that there is a bigger risk of something going wrong and needing repair work.

There is also the fact that most older cars are less economical and running outdated technology which turns most modern consumers away. This is especially evident with older diesel motors as the constantly tightening restrictions are making them harder and harder to live with.

Of course there are exceptions and a well looked after older vehicle could well interest us and our customer base. 

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The Offer

Once we have evaluated your car we will come to you with an appropriate offer. We won't pressure you on the spot and you're more than welcome to go away and think about it over a good nights sleep.

If we are unable to take your vehicle as part exchange we can still help you with moving it on. This could be by advising you on how to deal with car sales websites or even arranging for the car to be scrapped should it be needed.

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We hope that this article has helped you better understand how we come to value your used car however if you still have questions we are just a message away! View our Cars for Sale Southampton page for more information/


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