Do you know what your car is worth?
If you are like anyone else, you probably replied:
“Um… No? But I can find out in about thirty seconds from Kelley Blue Book, NADAGuides, or Edmunds. Why do you ask?”
We ask because most sources only consider a handful of factors in valuing your car. When businesses are valued, no one says, “The business is in Fair-to-Good-Condition.” Cars, like businesses, deserve to be correctly valued based on how they have been handled and cared for.
What is Excellent Condition? Could an inspector show you the criteria? Probably not. We think that is a bunch of bull. By working with CarDr.com for pre-purchase used car inspections, you are adding to a database of cars, like yours, who are sharing everything about their existence—their very heartbeat—with anyone who will listen.
What is a car worth?
A car is worth what the market will pay for it, in simple terms, but the market is willing to pay more for things if they can fully understand them. Inspections should include factors such as engine well-being, check engine code history, and even ride smoothness, as compared to other, similar rides.
If the [engine runs rough (Link to Sputtering Engine)], knock a few hundred or a few thousand dollars off of your asking price. The same is true for [rough-riding suspension (Link to 3 enemies of a smooth ride)]
Perhaps the most critical factor in price to remember: everything is a negotiation. If an offer is less than you are comfortable with taking, you can always say “No.”
Common factors in the Blue Book
The many dealerships and resellers use Kelley Blue Book used car value estimates to price their inventory. Other standard pricing tools include NADA used car value, and Edmunds used car pricing. These sources often use similar metrics to determine the price of a vehicle:
One of the most impactful facets of evaluation on pricing is vehicle condition. This takes into account factors such as frame condition, drivetrain condition, engine wear, transmission wear, body repairs, interior condition, and more. This metric is usually shown as “Excellent,” “Great,” “Good,” “Fair,” or “Poor.”
Most of the time, a vehicle frame is likely perfectly fine. In some incidents, however, such as 2014 GMC 1500-class trucks or vehicle accidents, frame damage is a considerable (and expensive!) worry. Frame repair is less reliable than frame replacement, and for aluminum-framed vehicles, it is not an option.
Drivetrain refers to all of the moving parts which keep your car or truck moving forward—engine, axles, driveshaft, etc. These parts must stay in proper working order to keep your vehicle safe-to-drive. Not only can a used car with drivetrain damage cause you a headache, but drivetrain repairs are also often costly—reaching into the hundreds or thousands of dollars.
Auto bodywork involves a lot of aesthetic changes, such as paint, dent pulling, buffing, and body repair or replacement. Many of these changes are simple, such as dent removal, while others, such as rust repair and painting, can break the bank.
Car valuation sources such as KBB, NADAGuides, and Edmunds cite vehicle mileage as a high-impact characteristic of vehicle depreciation. Mileage aggregates at an average rate of 12,000 miles per year. Vehicles that vary from this estimate see changes in prices, as well as a comparison between their total mileage compared with the average life expectancy of the car.
Used car pricing has the added benefit of hindsight—meaning that commonly known consumer issues can be built into vehicle pricing. For example, a 2003-2007 Ford Diesel truck can have a higher than usual risk of leaking oil due to its engine design. Consumers are less likely to pay full price for a vehicle they know may suffer from costly repairs from the factory.
Diesel trucks, sports models, luxury trims, and more spacious options commonly drive vehicle prices up. Whether the included perks relate to off-road functionality in the legendary Jeep Wrangler’s “Rubicon” package or the beefed-up drivetrain of a Dodge Demon, people commonly pay more for added options. Limited and high-performance models generally yield higher sale value.
Information from the categories above, however, only scratches the surface. Kelley Blue Book used car value estimates cannot tell you how your vehicle compares to others of the same make and model. So, when you are looking to buy or sell, is the KBB estimate really a close enough estimate for you?
How much does everyone else pay for the same car? The Kelley Blue Book and NADA used car value guides record previous purchase data to establish a fair baseline cost to compare all of the above factors against. This baseline is one of the key benefits of the Kelley Blue Book.
Is A KBB Value Combined with A CarFax™ Report Enough?
By now, you probably wonder why systems like the KBB used car price guide and NADA used car value reports exist. The truth is, they are so common because it is difficult to do their job at all, nevermind improving on their work. Many buyers and sellers choose to combine the pricing data from a KBB report with a full car history from CarFax™.
For us, however, static information, like a Blue Book estimate and CarFax™ report, aren’t enough to base a purchase on. Unfortunately, other pre-purchase inspections don’t provide enough information for our liking, either. They are also expensive, so we decided to build a service that is both affordable and informative.
CarDr.com Goes Beyond ‘The Blue Book’ and NADA
For our customers, however, we are proud to report that our OBD scanner provides greater insight than dealer scanners and even gives our inspectors a real-time view of your car’s operation over a five-minute test drive. Real-time insight gives our inspectors information about complex variables such as fuel-to-air ratios, ride stability, sensor functionality, and even engine efficiency.
From our perspective, just having a book of numbers and vehicle history isn’t enough, especially in an age where you can monitor personal health and investments of virtually any kind, from anywhere in the world.
Why Should You Trust Us Over Pre-established Competitors Like KBB?
The unfortunate truth is, technology is available to monitor all of these things and valuations from Kelley Blue Book and other, traditional sources don’t account for all of that information. We do, however, account for hundreds of evaluation points in a way we can explain in plain English.
As a modern customer, you already know you should be able to understand why everything costs what it costs, or how anything works. We work with everyday people like you, who happen to be mechanics and professional inspectors. They drive around and check out all sorts of cool cars, and then they take home half of what you pay for each inspection.
We believe in making sure everyone walks away from the sale happy—and invest in the world’s best automotive inspectors to make sure that’s exactly how it goes.
How Do Our Metrics Improve the Buying Experience?
Our metrics include engine efficiency, ride smoothness, check engine code history, not just the codes that are present right now. That means we can tell you virtually anything that has ever been wrong with the car, even if another mechanic cleared trouble codes.
When we listen to the pulse of your car, we know how it rides, how it runs, how it looks, and how other cars of the same make and model operate too. Using artificial intelligence, we can tell how your car stacks up against similar ones–both where it excels and if it falls short anywhere.
What Costs Come with Pre-owned Cars?
So, now that you know why our metrics stand out, why should you even care?
Pre-owned cars come with a few extra costs that you should expect—generally on top of the sticker price—having said that. However, new cars come with other extra costs. Some such costs may include larger auto loan origination fees, ranging from 0% to 2% of the auto loan value.
The Absolute Truth About Used Cars
Anytime a car has been owned and driven by another person, you need to know what they did with it, where it is from, and how much they drove it. Picking the first Google result for ‘used car inspection near me’ cannot tell you all of the information you should know.
Used cars may come with additional costs including:
- Shipping fees for remote purchases (think AutoTrader, Craigslist, CarGurus)
- Shipping insurance for the vehicle-in-transit
- State sales tax (based on fair market value)
- Title registration or transfer
- Personal Property taxes
- Repair costs
- Inspection costs
- Tire costs
Many people expect to pay vehicle sales tax when buying a new car, but it may come as a surprise for some private transactions. We aim to make sure you know exactly what to expect when buying–whether it is the car of your dreams or something to hold you over until you can afford your ideal vehicle.
Pre-purchase used car inspections help ensure you know any flaws or issues with the vehicle you’re buying before you invest your hard-earned cash in the vehicle. Pictures don’t usually show suspension problems, drivetrain wear, or other mechanical issues. The costs of common car issues, such as [overheating (Link to common causes of overheating)] will add up quickly if you aren’t mindful of them.
In some states, harsh chemicals are used to keep roads from becoming overcome with snow and ice. Road salt and Calcium Chloride are common, yet highly corrosive agents that snow management services use to clear the road. These chemicals are consistently introduced to vehicles in an activated, extra-corrosive state.
Automotive frames, axle tubes, exposed wires, oil pans, and other metallic surfaces should be washed [in order to prevent rust. (Link to Rust prevention article)] Take charge of finding all the information you can about your investment in a car or truck. Simply counting on the seller to tell you is certain to disappoint.
In some areas such as California and Illinois, used cars may also require vehicle emission testing and certification–and any associated retrofits or repairs, such as catalytic converter repair or replacement.
Extraneous Costs Most People Don’t Consider
These days, we buy everything from businesses such as Amazon and AliExpress–it is easy, and best of all, our acquisitions ship to our home. You can buy a car in the same manner, but you will pay extra for shipping it to your door.
UShip, a leading auto shipper, explains that for shipments under 200 miles, you should expect to pay around $2.92 per mile, while orders over 200 miles away are usually billed at about $0.78 per mile.
Other costs include special shipping costs–normally only applicable for exotic, rare, or classic cars, dealer fees which average out at about $500 per vehicle nationwide, if you purchase from a dealership, and even a document processing fee, which is also exclusive to dealership purchases.
What Should You Expect When Buying Pre-owned?
Used cars have their own whole story—including the way they were driven, how they were cared for, and any issues they may or may not have. When buying a pre-owned vehicle, you should expect to pay for a pre-purchase used car inspection to identify pre-existing or upcoming issues with the car.
Once you know what the vehicle has been through and it has been diagnosed, you should expect to sink a couple of hours checking price estimates for any repairs with a mechanic, and then the cost of any repairs that you feel cannot wait.
How Does AI Make Life Easier For You?
CarDr.com uses artificial intelligence to compare your car against all of the other cars we have inspected, ever, instantly. This gives you insights from other, similar cars, and shows you what issues you can expect to crop up after purchase. This information shows you how much you can expect to pay in repairs after purchase and which issues have been repaired in the past.
If you are looking to buy a used car, schedule an appointment with one of our passionate, world-leading inspectors before you finalize your purchase. You worked hard for your money, and we will work hard to protect your investment in whichever vehicle you choose. We inspect the unexpected, so you can expect a smooth ride from the first drive onward.