What affects a car valuation

July 4th 2020

When we buy a car, the thought of its resale value is never far from our mind when we sign on the dotted line.

That does not mean, however, that the excitement of the new purchase takes a back seat, so to speak.

But, when investing in that new vehicle, it is always good to remember that we’ll sell it again someday and therefore it may be important to keep future value in mind. This is true, especially, for those drivers who buy on a fairly ‘regular’ basis, people who change cars every two or three years. So, what then affects the car’s so-called book value, the retail price in the used car market?

Year Model/Age

The ‘older’ the car, the less likely it is to find a buyer at a competitive price. It is a fact that from the moment you drive your new car from the show room, it starts losing its value, and the longer you keep it, the less attractive it becomes to the resale market. Add to this high mileage, and you have an even bigger issue when looking for a buyer. Even if a car has been well looked after, high mileage will impact negatively on its value, because wear and tear becomes more of an issue in cars with higher miles on the clock.

General Condition

  • Exterior – A spotless car makes a better impression: Remember that scratch marks, dents and other imperfections will force the value down. Also, even if your car shows no obvious exterior damage, faded paint will detract from its value to potential customers. When you buy, think of future value in terms also of popular/less popular colour. White cars, followed by silver and black seem to be more attractive to buyers, whereas more ‘daring’ options such as purple and orange may bring the value down.

  • Interior – There can be no doubt that an interior that smells unpleasant, shows signs of wear and tear – such as cracked a dashboard and ripped material – these will make your car unattractive to prospective buyers. Sometimes a small improvement such as buying floor mats can make a difference. Let your car sparkle before you offer it to the market.

  • Accessories – A word of caution: those expensive 19-inch wheels and the superior sound system that you have added after you bought your car may not increase the value. If you added them for your own pleasure and satisfaction it’s fine, but bear in mind they may not mean a thing to your prospective buyer. Having said that, most buyers today want to buy – also in the used car market – a vehicle with good infotainment and navigation.

Supply and demand

Of course if you want to sell a very popular car, you’ll have a bigger pool of buyers to choose from. So, when you buy, remember that one day you will sell again – be sure you buy a car that will hold its value in the used car market.


Make sure you keep proper service records: private buyers, especially, will want to see those. Make sure the MOT is up to date. Also have all documentation such as the log book (V5C) ready. Do not make it difficult for yourself because you have not looked after the paperwork.

Additional Tips:

  • You can save yourself a few pounds by selling privately. Remember that a dealership may offer you less when you sell to them, because they will have to add on their own profit for resale later.

  • It seems diesel-driven cars keep their value for longer than petrol-driven ones. It also seems that people prefer automatic instead of manual transmissions.

It may be worth remembering that a combination of factors, such as the above, will affect your valuation. Your car’s value will indeed be influenced by year model and mileage, but also by the way you look after it.

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