There are any number of reasons you might need to know the worth of a vehicle. You might be:
- Looking to find out your car’s trade-in value
- Wondering if the classic car you’re considering buying is worth the asking price
- Dividing assets in a divorce case
- Needing an appraisal report for a total loss or diminished value claim
- Trying to calculate the market price of a car you’re hoping to sell privately,
In all of these cases, an independent vehicle appraiser can provide the most accurate, up-to-date price calculation.
What Secrets Do Independent Auto Appraisers Know
It isn’t so much that independent auto appraisers know secrets that they are incredibly knowledgeable, thorough, and attentive to details. Expert knowledge of the auto industry, access to data that is not publicly available, and special tools and scanners are all employed to calculate the true worth of a vehicle.
Licensed, unbiased appraisers can accurately calculate a vehicle’s current market value. And if you need a mediator or an expert witness to stand up in court, some appraisers, such as Auto Mediator, provide that service.
Is an Expert Auto Appraiser Always Necessary
No, there are online calculators available, and car dealers appraise vehicles all the time. The trouble with these, though, is that they use a pretty generic metric that often undervalues vehicles–significantly.
If you are trying to figure out the value of Grandpa’s 2005 P.T. Cruiser that’s been sitting in the garage for the past six years, you’re probably good at using a free calculator or consulting the Kelly Blue Book. If, however, you are buying, selling, or evaluating the market price of an expensive luxury vehicle, or if you’re dealing with a sought-after classic car, you want to have an appraiser do an in-person, in-depth inspection in order to arrive at a value that’s as accurate as possible.
How Do Professional Appraisers Calculate the Worth of a Vehicle?
An appraiser will do an initial walkaround, photograph/video the vehicle, and collect as much of the vehicle’s history as possible from the owner. It helps if the owner has kept records of maintenance and any customization or modifications, as well as any accidents the
vehicle may have been in. It’s also great to have the car’s original window sticker, which shows all of the vehicle’s options and standard equipment.
Appraisers use vehicle appraisal apps, along with onboard diagnostic tools. They can check that everything is in working order, detect fraud, such as odometer or VIN tampering, and perform paint thickness tests to reveal spots where repair work has been done (if the gauge registers over the limit, it can indicate the presence of filler used in bodywork).
Test driving a vehicle shows an appraiser how the car handles and whether there’s a mechanical issue. If the car shudders or shakes instead of purring like a kitten, that indicates a definite issue that will decrease value.
Low mileage helps increase a late-model vehicle’s value, but not if a car is several years old. The older model may not be in demand at all, or it may be so old that parts are not readily available. A savvy car appraiser knows these things, so don’t count on low mileage to raise your older trade-in’s value.
In order to correctly value a car, expert appraisers must also know a lot about the auto industry and the current market. Some specialize in classic vehicles. Whether new or classic, though, the popularity of certain makes and models of cars can fluctuate. Having access to up-to-date pricing helps professional appraisers calculate value.
Factors such as rarity or popular upgrades like that Champagne cooler in your Bentley figure into vehicle pricing. Where you live can even make a difference in a car’s value; high-end winter tires are worth nothing in Houston or Los Angeles, for example.
Familiarity with current market trends is a necessity as well. For instance, color can be a factor. You may love your beige BMW, but the overwhelming majority of car shoppers do not. Appraisers take that into account when pricing a vehicle.
When Accuracy Counts, Count on Experts
It’s hard for insurers and courts to argue with an airtight professional appraisal. Cutting corners by using an instant online appraisal will only cost you money in the long run. For a vehicle’s true worth, trust the expertise of a licensed independent appraiser. The difference could be worth thousands.