Trade-In Appraisal and a Surprise Feature - 2011 Chevrolet Volt Long-Term Road Test

2011 Chevrolet Volt Long Term Road Test

2011 Chevrolet Volt: Trade-In Appraisal and a Surprise Feature

December 08, 2011

Volt at Carmax.jpg Yesterday I talked about the unique challenges that we faced when trying to determine the Chevrolet Volt's value. Our Edmunds True Market Value (TMV) experts had already calculated a figure, but we thought that a number from a consultation with Carmax would help verify it with a real-world price quote.

The Carmax appraisals are typically done by a single person. But our Volt was such a unique car that two appraisers were put to the test. A sales rep stopped to spectate and asked the appraiser a few questions. He seemed very knowledgeable about the car. As we’ve seen in past experience with Carmax, the appraisers walk around the car and test out all the accessories. If a car is still under warranty, they forgo the one-mile test drive they typically take.

Something strange happened when the appraisers popped the Volt’s hood. All of a sudden I heard the engine come on. This surprised me, because we had an estimated 31 miles of electric charge remaining in the Volt’s batteries. I had never seen this behavior before and even asked the appraisers if they had somehow forced the engine to switch over. It turns out that this engine ignition when the hood pops open is part of the Volt's design. According to GM's reps, this is actually a safety feature. Since the Volt is so quiet, the gas engine will start after the hood is popped to remind owners that the car is still on.

Going back to the appraisal, Carmax offered us $32,000. We asked our readers to submit their own guesses about the Volt's trade-in value and Curry2spicy was the first to guess correctly. My own prediction was $33,000. The $32K isn't too far off from what our analysts were expecting, so it’s a fair price. If the depreciation seems severe to you, keep in mind that this price is factoring in the federal tax credit.

We later contacted a Chevrolet dealer for a second opinion. The dealer gave us a significantly lower price than Carmax, $27,000. Jlaszlo was the closest to this price. He guessed $27,500.

With no true reference points out there yet, pricing the 2011 Chevrolet Volt’s trade-in value is like the Wild West right now, as they say. But this variation between our estimate, Carmax’s offer and the Chevy dealer’s offer should serve as a reminder that trade-in price quotes are simply educated guesses that might not always match up with what you were anticipating. So whether you have a Chevy Volt or a Chevy Malibu, it is important to get an appraisal from multiple sources. Otherwise, you can easily miss out on thousands of dollars.

It's not quite time to sell our 2011 Chevrolet Volt, so for now we'll let the Carmax appraisal expire. Our TMV experts are in the process of calculating a private party TMV figure. This should help us get a better handle on the price at which to list it when the time comes.

Ron Montoya, Consumer Advice Asssociate

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