How to Calculate Diminished Value for a Car


Selling your car can be stressful. Many people avoid the hassle by letting a car dealer handle the sale. The only problem with this situation is that the dealer will offer you less money than what the car is really worth. To get the most money for your car, it is best to determine the actual value and sell it to a private party. There are many other reasons why you would need to calculate the diminished value of a car. No matter what your reasons are, you will use three major factors to determine the value: car make and model, the mileage, and the condition.

Things You'll Need

  • Internet access
  • Used car
  • Direct your browser to a trusted website dedicated to determining used automobile values. NADA is a trusted resource as well as Kelley Blue Book. You can choose to use their online systems or order a hard copy of their current car value guides.

  • Choose the used cars section. Whether you’re using the online guide or physical guide, you need to locate this section.

  • Locate the vehicle. Use the make, model and year to narrow your search. The physical guide will have specific sections for you to follow. The online guide will ask you to enter this information or select from available options.

  • Determine the vehicle mileage. For an accurate value report, enter mileage online or search the guide according to the exact number of miles found on the car's mileage counter.

  • Note the vehicle's features. Luxury items, such as power seats, power windows, leather interior and a sunroof, will increase the car’s value. The online guide will ask you to check off these features. The physical guide will show you how much money each feature will add to the car’s value.

  • Determine the car’s condition. If the car is damaged or not running, this will decrease the car’s value. Both versions of the guide will explain how to determine the car's condition and ask you to rate the condition. You can choose from excellent, good, fair and poor.

  • Obtain the automobile's current value. The online guide and the physical guide provide you with the value of the car based on the information you entered or searched under.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you are unable to determine the value of a vehicle on your own, you could send the car to a nearby Carmax for a free estimate.

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  • Photo Credit Creatas/Creatas/Getty Images
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