How much is my car worth: Instant used car value

Our free appraisal tool gives you an accurate price for your vehicle — in as little as a minute. We won't ask for personal info, and you won't be contacted by third parties.

A quick guide to the car value tool

How values are calculated: Our calculator uses data from a wide variety of sources, including dealer transactions, depreciation costs for unique vehicles, and consumer information. The appraised value is based on factors such as the car's year, make, model, trim, mileage, depreciation and features.

Which vehicles can be appraised: Just about every make is covered, including luxury brands such as Lexus and Mercedes-Benz. The tool appraises vehicles dating back to 1990, so if you own a classic car, this method will not work. In that specific case, you'd need to find a specialized classic car guide, such as Hagerty, to determine its fair market value.

What you'll see in your appraisal: We will help you make the best decision if you're selling or trading in. You will be presented with three or four automobile values: trade-in, private party, dealer retail and certified used. The trade-in price is what you can expect from car dealerships if you trade in your current vehicle for your next car. It is always the lowest of the values.

If you plan on doing a private sale, the private-party amount is what a seller can expect. This is always a higher amount than the trade-in value, but it takes more work because you'll be dealing with buyers yourself.

The dealer retail value is for used-car customers. It's an average of what a shopper may expect to pay when they visit a dealership to buy the pre-owned car. If your used vehicle is new enough, you will also see a suggested "certified used" number, the approximate sale price for customers looking for a certified pre-owned vehicle.

Getting the most out of the tool

The tool will ask you to describe your vehicle. Let's talk about why adding specific options are worth the time you put into it.

The importance of style and options

After you've entered the vehicle year and make, you'll select the style, also called the trim level. The style can refer to the type of engine, standard features, or the number of doors it has. Here's a refresher on trim levels.

Major features, such as the car's transmission, engine type and all-wheel drive, can have a big impact on the value of the car. The same goes for options such as leather seats, navigation, a sunroof or automatic climate control. If you can remember your car's options off the top of your head, great. If not, here are some suggestions on where to get the information you need.

The vehicle's original window sticker (which has the car's mpg and total MSRP) is the best place to find what options are on your vehicle. Unfortunately, few people actually hang on to the sticker. Without it, your best bet is to sit in your car and make a note of its options. If you're using a smartphone, tablet or laptop (assuming you're within Wi-Fi range), you can complete the options check from the driver's seat. It is crucial to get the style and options right. Without them, you may be under- or overvaluing your car.

Coming clean on condition levels

Our tool will ask you to pick from five condition levels: outstanding, clean, average, rough and damaged. Most people will likely choose one of just three: clean, average or rough.

You might be tempted to choose "outstanding" to get more money for your used auto. After all, you've pampered your car the entire time you've owned it, right? But the truth is that few cars qualify for this rating.

"Outstanding" is reserved for older, low-mileage vehicles in cases where well-preserved examples are hard to find, says Richard Arca, senior manager of pricing for Edmunds.

Edmunds True Market Value (TMV®) used car prices are all set at "clean" condition, Arca says. The price of a car in a less-than-clean state is adjusted downward from there, and it reflects what it would cost to bring the vehicle up to a clean state.

If your vehicle was in an accident, it could still be considered "clean" if it was repaired with factory parts and according to the manufacturer's specifications, Arca says.

"In reality, cars that have been in accidents tend to lose market value, but there is really no way to gauge how much," Arca says. He adds that some of the factors that affect the value are the severity of the damage, the quality of the repair, and the demand for that particular model.

Be honest and objective about the state of your used vehicle. Try to see things from a potential buyer's perspective.

It's easy to be real

Getting a realistic up-to-date value for your car is key to what you do next, whether you decide to trade it in, list it for sale on a site like Autotrader, or even keep it for a while longer. By using the Edmunds car appraisal tool to do your research, you'll have a clear-eyed assessment of your car's actual worth, not a number based on guesswork and high hopes.

Frequently asked questions

Yes, but you'll want to verify that the value of your trade-in is enough to pay off the loan. Otherwise, the balance will roll into the next auto loan and you'll owe more than the car is worth. Learn more
Used car prices vary greatly based on the year, make, model, body style, condition level, mileage, and the location or ZIP code where the vehicle is being sold. This is why it is important to use a trusted car price guide like Edmunds'. If you're buying directly from the owner, you'll want to look at the private-party value and make an offer based on that. If you're buying from a dealership, you'll want to focus on the retail value and make an offer that is between the trade-in value and the retail value. Learn more
Lexus has the highest resale value among luxury brands, and Toyota has the highest resale value among non-luxury makes, according to Edmunds analysts. Learn more

In addition to the Edmunds tool, car owners may see other resources that offer pricing information. Here's an overview:

Kelley Blue Book (KBB)

Kelley Blue Book is an automotive pricing and sales guide. It is sometimes mistaken for the "Black Book," which is an internal guide for dealerships to determine wholesale car prices.

Kelley Blue Book is one of many tools, along with the Black Book, used by car dealers to research and determine car values for their inventory.

In general, you'll find that the Kelley Blue Book values are similar to those provided by Edmunds. We don't have access to how Kelley Blue Book calculates its prices, but at a high level, Kelley also is paying attention to vehicle age, trim, market conditions, features and mileage.

Kelley Blue Book price vs. Edmunds

The Kelley Blue Book price is a trademarked car valuation from KBB. Many people use this term, along with "Black Book" or "Edmunds TMV." They're all terms used to describe the estimated market value of the vehicle in question. This price is used to determine what to pay for a new or used car.

The KBB price will vary based on the shape your automobile is in. There are four levels: fair, good, very good and excellent. KBB says that of the cars it values, 3% are excellent, 18% are fair, 23% are very good and 54% are in good condition.

If you want to compare those terms to Edmunds', "very good" at Blue Book would be our "outstanding," "good" would be our "clean," and "fair" is our "rough." KBB does not have an equivalent for the "damaged" description.

NADA used car guide

The NADA (National Automobile Dealers Association) Guide started in 1933. It provides used-vehicle valuation products and services to the auto, finance, fleet, government and insurance industries. The pricing guide is an industry tool used by many dealerships and is not generally available to the car-buying (or selling) public. Instead, the company created a consumer-facing website called NADA guides that provides pricing valuation to consumers for used and new vehicles, classic cars, motorcycles, boats, RVs and manufactured homes.

NADA car values vs. Edmunds

NADA uses J.D. Power data to assess the market and create its own price guide to new and used car sales. If the numbers don't match up with those from Edmunds, this is likely why. But essentially, both NADA and Edmunds are providing a guide to the market, to pinpoint a reasonable price range for a vehicle at a dealer's lot. NADA has three vehicle states — rough, average, clean — that seem to mirror those on Edmunds.

Learn more