Helpful Guide: Car valuation

Buying or selling a car can be a pretty daunting undertaking - particularly if you're new to the world of brokering deals and haggling with experienced dealers. It's usually a good idea to know how much is your car worth - that's where getting a reliable valuation is vital.

Which factors come into play?

The up-to-date value of a given car tends to rest on just a handful of pretty obvious factors: the age, the mileage, the condition (you can offload parts individually if your car is a little beaten up, but it's usually best to go for a full sale).
In some circumstances, the wind of public opinion and any coinciding industry downturns may come into play. In general, however, prices are fixed: if you want your car to be worth something, make sure it's kept free from skirmishes and excessive wear.

Which sources are trusted?

Good question - here's a few websites worth adding to your bookmarks:
Any of the above sites should be able to give you an instant quote after you've punched in a few details: usually just the registration, make and model.
It probably doesn't need to be said, but the folk at We Buy Any Car have garnered a reputation for being rather on the harsh side (minor blemishes can result in a mark down).
Generally, it's better for the consumer to seek a valuation from a company which merely facilitates the sell, rather than actually completes it themselves. Our advice: you can't go wrong with Autotrader.

Should I shop around?

An independent valuation at a high street garage or showroom is always an option, but it really depends on how much you're prepared to pay (in your efforts to avoid being ripped off at the auction, you may find yourself taken for a ride by unscrupulous mechanics).
Put it this way: if you're selling a vintage motor, you should probably go private. If, on the other hand, you're simply looking for a quick cash-grab on a handy runaround, you should have little problem finding an accurate quote from one of the free sources named above.

Any other tips?

We're glad you asked.
It's important when selling your car to manage your expectations in terms of how much you will make. Today manufacturers bust out new cars with clockwork regularity. This means older models depreciate in value very quickly - particularly if we're talking about the more ubiquitous makes (think Vauxhall, Renault, Fiat and Citroen).

It was briefly alluded to above, but if you're going to try to sell your car for parts, it's a completely different ball game. You will need to do your homework to see what you can expect to get (again, this is contingent on the type of car; some of the more hard to come by parts are heavily sought after while others can easily be substituted for the junk knocking around at a garage).