There are a number of things you should consider when determining your vehicle's value. From its condition and mileage to its desirability in the marketplace.
First, examine your vehicle's paint. Does the paint look faded or worn? Does it have major chips or scratches in the surface? Does it show visible signs of wear and tear? Be on the lookout for deep scratches, dings, gouges or rust. Have you had the vehicle painted and if so, does the paint match from panel to panel? Is the finish glossy or dull?
Has the vehicle had any body work? If so, was it done properly (are there noticeable signs of bond-o, sand marks, putty or panel or door misalignment?) Are the panels straight and tight? Do the doors hang straight, do the door fasteners align and do they operate smoothly when opened and closed? Do the doors seal well to prevent noise and the outside elements from entering the vehicle?
Check your carpets and mats. Are they worn, stained, ripped or faded? Do they show wear in relation to the age of the vehicle? Does the carpet need to be cleaned? Do the mats need to be replaced? Are the seats clean and in good condition or are they worn and dirty? Have they been burned by a cigarette or stained by food or coffee?
Be sure to examine the tachometer, the odometer, the radio, air conditioning, windshield wipers and washer system, seat adjustments, gas gauge, warning lights and other components. If there are defects or problems with the vehicle's controls, be sure to consider these imperfections when assessing the car's worth.
Start your car and listen to the engine. Do you hear any unusual noises, such as whistling or ticking sounds? Are there popping or rumbling noises when the car is idling? Does it ping, knock or backfire? Be sure to listen closely for any unusual noises.
Be sure to look under the front and back of the car to see if there are any fresh fluid drips on the garage floor or the driveway, and don't forget to check under the hood for signs of leaks around the engine seams and hose connectors.
Take your car for a spin around the block and put yourself in a prospective buyer's shoes. Does the car accelerate smoothly or does it surge or jerk forward when you give it the gas? Does it respond quickly to a turn of the steering wheel or do you have to turn the steering wheel more than a few inches to get the car to respond? Does the car pull to the left or the right while driving? Does the car make any unusual noises? A mechanically sound vehicle should respond quickly, smoothly and easily to virtually every driving condition it's exposed to.
Do the brakes squeak or grind when you come to a stop? Does the vehicle pull to one side when you brake? Is there a lot of play when you apply the brake pedal? A vehicle's brakes and rotors are an expensive proposition and, if they need to be replaced or fixed, could decrease your vehicle's overall value.