Auto Appraisal Mistakes

The Top 10 Mistakes That California Auto Appraisers Make (And How to Avoid Them)

Jun 28, 2023

The Top 10 Mistakes That California Auto Appraisers Make (And How to Avoid Them)

Car appraisals can be done by dealerships or by consulting online calculators, and sometimes this is okay. There are a few occasions, however, when you should get a rock-solid professional auto appraisal by a neutral expert.  

Some of the reasons to get a vehicle professionally appraised include:

  • Getting an accurate value for a divorce, bankruptcy, or estate settlement
  • Determining whether the classic car you’re buying is really worth the asking price
  • Getting an accurate assessment for a diminished value insurance claim
  • Finding out your luxury car’s resale or trade-in value before putting it on the market

Having a well-documented professional appraisal from an expert “without a dog in the fight” makes it harder for an insurer to dismiss a claim or a buyer to lowball you.

10 Mistakes to Avoid in Car Appraisals

Like most businesses, car appraisal companies are not all the same.  If it matters enough to have a vehicle appraised, it should matter who does it.  Licensed appraisers who have a long history in the business, a great track record, and a thorough knowledge of all aspects of the automotive industry are far less likely to make errors when valuing your car. 

What are some of the mistakes less qualified appraisers make?

  1. Not checking to make sure the car has at least two sets of keys.  Having a car rekeyed can usually be done only at a dealership.  If you are buying a car, this is something you need to know.  Who needs the hassle or expense of going to a dealership and paying $400 for a new key?
  2. Not taking tire condition into consideration.  Worn tires should figure into a car’s value.  This is similar to the rekeying issue: the need to purchase new tires soon after buying a car should be taken into consideration.
  3. Appraisers should know the market well enough to know what car colors are selling and what colors are undesirable or outdated.  A car of an unpopular color will have less market value, regardless of the paint’s condition.
  4. Overinflating the value of a car is not a good thing.  In fact, it is a great way to get laughed out of an insurance company’s office if you hand them an appraisal for diminished value that exceeds their estimation by thousands of dollars.  Claim denied!
  5. Sometimes appraisers just don’t know the market like they should.  One example is the seasonal appeal of 4WD. Something that’s a big seller in wintry Buffalo, NY may not have much demand in sunny L.A.
  6. Photos and/or video walkarounds should be part of the assessment.  If an appraisal is missing this sort of documentation, it won’t be as convincing.
  7. Forgetting to document a scuff or dent is a glaring error, but it happens. 
  8. Neglecting to take a maintenance history from the owner can affect the accuracy of an appraisal.  Many times an owner can hand over solid proof of oil changes, tune-ups, and other regular maintenance to show the car has been well-taken care of.  This can add a lot of value to a car.
  9. Appraisers should take into account rare dealer-installed options a car might have.  Modifications added by an owner also make a difference in value (for better or worse–it depends on the market).  In classic cars, some of those options are pretty unique and can have a lot of appeal.  Not factoring their value into an assessment is a mistake.
  10. Appraisers should not try to predict a vehicle’s future value.  The car market is as fickle as any other.  Appraisers should be experts on the current fair market value of a car, whether it is a ‘64 mustang or a late model BMW.

Trust Auto Mediator for California Vehicle Appraisals

Auto Mediator has been involved in various branches of the automotive industry for more than 25 years.  Trusted by dealers, insurance companies, and private individuals, Auto Mediator can provide an accurate assessment of your vehicle that will stand up to scrutiny.