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Category:  Automobiles

How Much Is That Heap Worth?

Easy Steps to Valuing Your Used Car

By Donald Harris

Whether you are buying, selling or just curious what your car or truck is worth, an accurate appraisal of the true value of the vehicle is vital. If you just want a general price guide, visit the online version of the Kelly Blue Book. You will find general guidelines, but the results are only as accurate as the information you input. If you want a more accurate appraisal, you need to ask yourself a few questions about the car (and be brutally honest!)

Here are some general questions to ask:

1. How does it run?

2. Does it ride and drive good on the road?

3. Does it leak fluids?

4. Do you have to add oil or other fluids between service intervals?

These are questions the owner/operator of the vehicle can answer.

Now let's look at the car and ask a few more questions.

5. Do the tires match and do they have good tread?

6. Is the engine compartment clean or is the engine covered in oil and dirt? Open the hood and look.

7. Is the body paint shiny and new looking or does it have a dull appearance?

8. Are there dings in the body of the car?

9. When you look down low on the car body, are there rock chips in the paint?

Let's go inside the car now.

10. How is the upholstery? Is it dirty with tears or does it look new?

11. Is the carpet clean or dirty and worn?

12. Look at the dash. Is it clean or dirty or cracked?

13. Do the dash lights work and do other accessories work (power windows, doors, etc.)?

A yes answer to one or more of the above questions lowers the value of your vehicle. If you wonder how much lower, get estimates on the needed repairs and deduct it from the price you determine is accurate.

Now let's price your car. First go to the Kelly Blue book website at and get the price they estimate for your vehicle and area. Then look at the local newspaper's classified ads to see what the prices are for similar vehicles. Next look at new and used car dealers to get their prices for similar vehicles in the same condition and with the same mileage range.

Finally add the price from Kelly Blue Book, the high and low prices from the classified ads, and high and low prices from used car lots. Average the total and you will arrive at an accurate price of your car or truck.
Donald Harris is a former mechanic and used car dealer. He continues to tinker under that ol' shade tree. Drop by his website at for car repair tips and links to parts, manuals  and classic cars, trucks and tractors. Also visit for advice on living a modern  life without the modern headaches! You can contact Don at


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