The "blue book" value of your car is the market amount it is worth to others. Your vehicle may have more than one value. The private-party value indicates the price a consumer might pay to buy the car from you directly. The trade-in amount is generally less than the private-party value because a dealer must account for repairs and other services it provides to resell your vehicle. You'll want blue book information if you're selling your car, buying a new one or providing information about your assets on financial disclosure statements.
Gather basic information about your car. This includes the mileage, year, make and model, and model specification such as "LS" or "GX." These specifications indicate whether your vehicle has standard or factory-upgrade options. Upgraded models have a higher value than standard ones.
Assess the wear and tear on your car. Kelley Blue Book defines a vehicle in excellent condition as one that does not have any mechanical issues or wear and tear. The interior and exterior do not show signs of use. A car in excellent condition is commonly a new vehicle with little to no use, while vehicles in fair condition may have major repair or wear and tear but are still safe to drive if repairs are made. Most vehicles fall between these categories. To properly value a car, it must have a clean title and pass smog and safety tests, or be repairable to pass such tests.
Visit a car valuation website such as Kelley Blue Book or NADA Guides. Values provided by either company are accepted by dealers, buyers, sellers and parties interested in seeing proof of the equity in your assets. Enter basic information about your vehicle, its options and condition. You'll receive values based on how you plan to sell the car.
With a background in taxation and financial consulting, Alia Nikolakopulos has over a decade of experience resolving tax and finance issues. She is an IRS Enrolled Agent and has been a writer for these topics since 2010. Nikolakopulos is pursuing Bachelor of Science in accounting at the Metropolitan State University of Denver.