What is My Car Worth?

blue ringed book

Book Value

When it comes to getting an accurate picture of what your car is worth, the most common issue that has to be addressed is the actual value of the vehicle.

In the auto industry, many turn to a few online tools like the Kelley Blue Book (kbb.com) and the Canadian Black Book (canadianblackbook.com) as guides only. This is especially true when the car has been in an accident and considered to be a total loss and you need a more precise method of determining the actual value. More on this later.

Many of those engaged in the automotive business like car dealers often refer to the Kelley Blue Book when they need pricing information on a given car model. However, car dealers are not the only ones benefiting from the use of the book. Lending institutions also find the values assigned by the Blue Book and Black Book on various vehicles quite useful especially when considering the market value of a car submitted as collateral by a loan applicant.

New and Used Car Book Value

The so-called Book values are an extensive price listing of practically every existing car and vehicle models. These include both brand-new and used vehicle varieties, with the information initially available only in selected trade publications prior to becoming publicly accessible.

Since these values are known to be updated regularly, they have eventually become highly-reliable as a guide on car price data. This has been made possible through the regular compilation of car price information as obtained from different sources that include car rental companies, authorized car dealers, lending institutions, and even individual consumer car sales transactions.

Two other popular sites to get car values are Edmunds.com and Nadaguides.com.

Given this rather vast information sources, it is no wonder why the values contained in the Kelley Blue Book, Canadian Black Book and others are highly sought.

How to know the real market value of your vehicle Learn more here.

Car Appraisal

In particular, these values will be referred to by auto insurance agents only as a check on value when completing an Actual Cash Value (ACV) estimate or car appraisal on a given car that has been totaled.

The two terms are useful for car owners who may have unfortunately met a vehicular accident and are seeking insurance compensation. There is often a need to differentiate the ACV and the Replacement Cost Value (RCV) in order to better understand how car insurance coverage actually works.

Essentially, when any vehicle gets insured, an auto insurance company will usually provide its ACV which is the actual price of the vehicle computed after the depreciation cost has been subtracted. This can be a bit confusing at times especially when brand-new cars are involved.

In this case, many car owners are of the belief that their cars have a high market price simply because they are new. This is often where the problem begins as the depreciation aspect is disregarded which will be significant if and when a road mishap is encountered.

Simply put, all car types suffer from depreciation the moment they are purchased. The value is often not specific as this will depend partly on the model of the car but it does exist. As such, when a given vehicle suffers damages as a result of an accident, the ACV will most likely be lower than originally expected.

On the other hand, the RCV is a little easier to understand. As its meaning implies, the RCV refers to the amount of costs needed in order to replace or repair a car after getting damaged. Normally, the RCV is an amount set by auto insurance companies in consultation with the car owner. This should be adequately reflected in the corresponding insurance policy. This is how the insurance company determines what your car is worth.

Either way, the Kelley Blue Book and Canadian Black Book will often come into play as a check on value whenever auto insurers try to determine the ACV as well as the RCV of a given vehicle. Interestingly, the information contained in the books is already available in the internet. This should prove to be helpful to the typical motorist as he no longer needs to rely on his insurer when they need to find out a general idea of how much their car is worth for a trade in or for sale  pricing details for his/her car.

Actual Cash Value Calculator

Another common tool that auto insurance agents usually use in computing the ACV is the so-called Actual Cash Value Calculator. This often works as a type of computer program where pertinent vehicle details are required before the car value can be calculated. This is an internal software and the general public does not have access to this computer program.

With all these online car value tools, not one can replace the analysis and detail of an actual cash value appraisal performed by a qualified professional vehicle appraiser. While sites like kbb.com and canadianblackbook.com can provide an indication of value, they are computer generated averages and cannot know the exact details of a specific car, the market conditions in which the car is trading or select the absolute best comparable vehicles for the highest cash value on a specific date.

If your car has been in an accident and the insurance company says it is a total loss, to find out what your car is really worth you would be wise to obtain an ACV appraisal. Hiring an appraiser can run between $150 for a desk appraisal to as much as $300 for a detailed vehicle appraisal where the comparable sale vehicles are inspected for their similarities and differences compared to the car being appraised.

As an alternative, doing your own ACV appraisal is an easy process when you know what steps to take. If you want to get the highest payout for your totaled car, we can help you do that.


How to know the real market value of your vehicle Learn more here. (hint: it's not the blue book value)


As the video below explains, online book value calculators only give you a general idea of your car value. This is why a proper actual cash value appraisal is essential to determine what your car is worth.


Totaled Car Value Calculator

Related Posts

  • 79
    Your car is a total loss and you feel strongly the insurance adjuster is offering you a low-ball payout on your car. Your first step is do not accept the insurance company's first offer. Your next step is to research the value of your totaled car before the accident and…
    Tags: cash, car, insurance, actual, book, companies, kelly, blue, appraisal, canadian
  • 55
    The most common response I see quoted online for the question, "what makes a car totaled", is when the cost to repair the damage equals 75% or more of the actual cash value of the car. This is very misleading because this percentage is different in some states. While some…
    Tags: car, insurance, actual, cash, companies, state, appraisal, farm, geico
  • 50
    Whether you are dealing with USAA, Farmers, State Farm, Nation Wide, GEICO, Progressive or one of the many other auto insurance companies for your totaled car, they all have the same objective... to reduce auto claim costs as much as possible. Auto insurance adjusters that work for these companies are…
    Tags: insurance, car, farm, state, geico, cash, appraisal, actual

Tags: , , , , , ,

Facebook Comments:

Leave A Reply (4 comments so far)

Cash Loans

Low Interest Car Loans

Uncover Any Vehicle’s Accident History

Disclaimer: "All brand names and product names used on this website are trade names, service marks, trademarks, or registered trademarks of their respective owners."

Affiliate Disclosure: I am grateful to be able to provide great content free of charge. As part of my content, I do make recommendations to products and services. If you click on one of those links and purchase, I may earn a referral commission in most cases. Your support in purchasing through these links enables me to keep my website operating costs to a minimum . Thank you, in advance for your support!

%d bloggers like this: