Find out the book value of a car

Looking to trade your car in or end your finance agreement early? You'll need to know your car's market value

BuyaCar team
Dec 19, 2021

If you’re thinking that the time is approaching to replace your car, then it's useful for you to know its value, so you know roughly how much you'll be able to get for it, and how much you can budget for your new set of wheels.

For cars that still have outstanding finance, it can help you work out whether you can afford to end the agreement early and trade it in for a newer, or cheaper model. Having more to pay on your finance than what your car is worth puts you in what's called negative equity - read about that here.

The first step is to get a valuation, based on your car’s age, mileage and condition. You can get an initial estimate from BuyaCar’s valuation calculator, which is based on general industry data. This is known as the book price of the car.

The more detail you include about your car's condition, the more accurate the estimate will be. You’ll then have the option of getting a personalised quote, which will give you the clearest picture of how much your car could be worth.

You can also check used car deals to see the prices that similar cars to yours are currently being sold for, although this should be considered more of a guide to a rough price rather than a signifier of your car's actual worth. Also bear in mind that the car market is constantly evolving, with prices rising and falling dependent on a number of factors including demand and even the time of year.

Using your car’s market value to get a new model

The book value of your current car can be used to calculate how much it will cost to change to a new one. Once you’ve found the car that you’d like next, you can deduct the value of your current car from the price of the new one, and the result of that sum will be the total cost of changing.

Your car's market value is the most important figure to bear in mind when you’re trading in a vehicle. You might find that one dealer or website will make an extremely generous offer for your car, which is above its market value. But that may come with the condition that you buy your next car from the same place without any discounts, which could make the cost to change higher.

It's important to take into account all of the potential costs and savings on offer before accepting a deal, and it's worth getting several quotes to find the best value deal for you.

Ending your finance agreement early with a high car market value

You may be able to end a finance agreement early if your car’s market value is more than the amount that you still owe on the finance agreement. That’s because the lender will be able to take your car and sell it to obtain the money that it is due.

Personal Contract Purchase (PCP) deals allow you to hand the car back at the end of the agreement with nothing more to pay. If your car is worth more than the amount you owe, then you’ll often be able to hand it back early and walk away. You may also be able to use the difference between its market value and your debt (known as equity) to put towards a deposit on another PCP deal.

Lenders may also allow you to terminate a Hire Purchase (HP) agreement early if the car is worth more than you owe. However, they will take the car back and you’ll have nothing to show for it. If you see an HP deal through to the end, you will be the owner of the vehicle by default.

Car scrappage schemes

If you are the owner of a more polluting vehicle, you may be able to utilise car scrappage schemes. These generally offer a fixed value regardless of your car, which you can put towards a brand new car. 

Remember to compare that all-important cost of change - while this seems a good deal on paper, it may mean you are unable to benefit from other deals such as deposit contributions.

Read all about car scrappage schemes here.


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