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Buying A Car - How much is my car worth?

13 August 2012

Buying and selling cars can be a smooth and enjoyable process, providing you know what you're doing – and knowing how much your car is worth is central to that.

The best way to get a reliable used car valuation is by using the What Car?'s free valuations tool. The service covers all cars sold in the UK from 1999 to 2012.

When creating a valuation, we analyse the car's age, mileage, condition, how it's being bought or sold – and gives you an instant appraisal of its worth.

Using it is easy, too. Simply enter the make and model of the used car you're interested in buying or selling. You'll then be prompted to select a bodystyle, version and year.

If you know the registration number, it's even easier. Just type that in and we'll automatically identify the car. For an even more accurate valuation you can use intuitive slider bars to enter the mileage and condition.

Next, all you have to do is click the 'Get Valuation' button to reveal the following valuations:

•The dealer price you can expect to pay when you're only buying a car. They include a profit margin for the dealer so haggle hard for the best price.
•What you can expect to receive from, or pay to, a private buyer or seller
•The part exchange value. This is the value you should aim for when trading in a car for a different vehicle at a franchised or reputable independent dealer.
•The trade price. This is what private buyers will get by selling their car directly to a trader or dealership in a cash deal, with no part-exchange. This is a car's lowest value.

How to buy a car

You'll also receive an e-mail with a downloadable PDF valuation certificate, which you can print out and take it along to show prospective buyers or vendors.

Our used car valuations are free but we will ask you for some of your contact details.

Our prices are for cars in good condition for the year, with a full MoT test (where necessary), needing only minor expense and minimal work to be fit for retail sale. A full service history is desirable in all cases, but is essential for prestige and luxury models.

Paintwork should be original, although some minor stone chipping would be acceptable on cars that are over 18 months old. Interiors are assumed to be clean and completely free from damage. Cars should be mechanically sound.

The valuations are based on a vast resource of real car sales analysis that's compiled and constantly updated.

Half a million used cars are sold each month in the UK and we keep tabs on market prices through a wide range of used-car outlets, including authorised and independent dealers, manufacturers' Approved Used schemes, auctions and private transactions. The data is processed and updated daily on a real-time basis, not just during the working week, but 365 days a year.

The result is the most up-to-date valuations service available.

Even if you're not ready to sell just yet, the valuation and certificate give you an accurate overview of how much you'll be spending when you do. If the car is on the whatcar.com database, there'll be an option to buy a history check from as little as £4.95.

Next step: Should I buy a new or a used car? >>

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