How to determine the value of a used car

Often buying a used car is scary because the scam is around the corner.

So here are the 5 most important aspects to consider when evaluating the true value of a used car .

  1. The mileage
  2. The historian
  3. Optional
  4. State of mechanics and bodywork
  5. Brand model and dealer


The first aspect to consider before buying a used car is the number of kilometers traveled . There may be cars that are ten years old but have never reached 100,000 km, or cars with just 5 years that have far exceeded 100,000 km; in short, it is a number that varies greatly depending on the use of the car.

In general, it is estimated that a car travels 10,000 km every year, and based on the distance a list price is estimated. On the other hand, if a car exceeds this estimate, it should normally lower by 0.3% of the standard value every 1000 km; you can therefore use this calculation as a starting point to determine the value.

Be very careful though, because mileage is the area in which it is easier to fall into some scam. In fact, the digital odometer is one of the most easily made-up parts through the use of some software. In this way the declared mileage will be lower than the real one and will increase the value of the car.

In order not to run into this scam, rely on a dealer or a car that has always had a black box in order to determine how many kilometers it has traveled. Also check some elements from which to deduce the true history of the car. Worn pedals and seats in comparison to very low mileage are a great indicator of a scam, so trust someone else.

To learn more, read also how to check the kilometers of a used car .

The historian

Although aesthetically the used car may appear perfect, always remember to evaluate how it was maintained by the previous owner. By historian we commonly mean the set of revisions , ordinary maintenance and extraordinary interventions that characterized the car in previous uses, also counting the administrative part (fines, foreclosures, etc.).

Therefore, when you are evaluating a used car, ask the owner to show you the maintenance booklet that comes with the vehicle. In fact, to keep the value of the car high, an owner with a little attention will keep the receipts of the various interventions (with stamps also applied by mechanics in general), and constant maintenance also ensures long life to the car and justifies the what you are going to buy. For example, every year or approximately every 10,000 km there must be a receipt for the coupon complete with kilometers marked.

Secondly, check that all mandatory reviews have been carried out and the expiration date of the next ones. You will not want to find yourself with a vehicle that cannot be driven when you become the owner.

Optional car

When buying a new vehicle, the owner will also choose the equipment he wants to include. Of course, the best fittings include more options and therefore cost more, a monetary value that will add to the overall value of the car used over time. For the same model, for example, accessories such as air conditioning, parking sensors, various driving aids and so on can make a huge difference.

Once you have found the used car with the equipment you want, check that all that equipment works well. The most common checks are the correct functioning and the state of wear of the seat belts, that the airbags are deactivated, that the parking sensors are working well, that the air conditioning is charged with gas, the GPS is updated to the latest version available, that USB and 12 Volt sockets are working properly and so on.

State of mechanics and bodywork

Another fundamental aspect to consider before buying a used car is the state of the mechanics . As can be easily deduced, a car whose intron components are damaged will be cheaper than another that has always been well maintained.

To evaluate the mechanical part, unless you are an expert yourself, always get the assistance of a professional. In general, when you take a look at the engine, you check the general condition, the wear of the brakes, the drive belt, clutch, pumps and fuel, as well as any fluid leakage. A common problem in cars that travel many kilometers in the city, for example, is the loss of fluids due to the jolts and blows that are taken every time you pass on an irregularity of the road. In this regard, do not forget to also check the condition of the tires and shock absorbers.

Once you have evaluated the mechanical part, do not forget to give the right weight to the bodywork as well . The price is first of all influenced by the general state of the bodywork: scratches, dents and muggings (or even repainting marks that indicate previous accidents) greatly affect the price. furthermore, also evaluate the underlying part of the car well, if there is rust, condition of the drive shafts, fenders, etc.

Make, model and dealer

Finally, the last factor that strongly influences the value of used vehicles is the brand and model . In general, the best-selling models tend to maintain their value over time thanks to the strong market, while others with less diffusion (but sometimes just as efficient) quickly lose their value. Instead, more prestigious brands (such as BMW or Mercedes) tend to keep the value of used cars high and almost unchanged over time, so they can be a good deal both to carry a used car and to resell it at a later time.

Secondly, dealers and the distribution network behind them must be taken into account. Individuals and dealers have different prices. While the private sector tends to maximize the value of their car, the dealer must stick to standards and the stock market. The price, on the other hand, is raised by the logistics chain behind it and above all by the mandatory warranty year, a constraint that is not present in the purchase with a private individual.


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