by Lori Straus
Deciding on a fair price for your current vehicle can feel overwhelming. Whether you buy a new car every five or ten years, it’s not a transaction that happens often in your life, and only car lovers regularly keep track of car pricing. In this blog post, we’ll introduce you to Canadian online car valuation tools you can use in your research to help you calculate what your car may be worth.
Our Test Model
We used the following car to try each of the tools in this article: a 2016 Ford F-150 4WD XL. Some platforms required more information than others, and we’ll share that with each platform.
Kelley Blue Book
The first Kelley Blue Book was published in 1926 by Los Angeles car salesman Les Kelley when he began circulating a list of vehicles he wanted and the price he offered. In 2020, the company expanded into Canada. Shortened to KBB, it’s the oldest car price publication out of all the ones we discuss in this article. The KBB tool also asked for the most details.
Once we entered the make and model and selected the year, the tool presented us with a host of vehicles to choose from. We compared the pricing of three models:
- 4WD Reg Cab 141” XL 5.0L 385 HP $25,015
- 4WD Reg Cab 141” XL 3.5L 282 HP $21,309
- 4WD Reg Cab 141” XL 2.7L 325 HP $24,252
The KBB calls these prices “Typical Dealer Asking Price.” In other words, this is the average you could expect to pay if you bought this vehicle from a dealership. The trade-in value is much lower. For the first vehicle, for example, the average value is $19,491. KKB added 92,813 km as the mileage once we selected the first vehicle. We don’t know why, so we just accepted it and used it where possible with other trials.
One benefit that stood out with the KBB is that it asked for a postal code to help home in on market pricing for where the driver lives and will presumably shop. This can help you find a more realistic price for your vehicle.
The KBB derives its numbers from historical transactions, and it updates its pricing at least once a week.
Another very familiar name in the car retail business is autoTRADER. We entered the following data for our test vehicle: 2016 Ford F-150 4WD Reg Cab 141 XL, with 92,813 km and in good condition. We stipulated the same postal code as we did for the KBB. autoTRADER allows you to also add if the vehicle has had over $2,000 worth of damage repaired. We tried answering both yes and no.
Unfortunately, entering that data gave us an error message: “Please enter a different year or model.” Selecting a 2016 F-150 with RWD and the same mileage solicited the same response.
You may know the Carfax Canada brand as the company that provides you with the recorded repair history of a vehicle. Anytime you buy a used car, request this document. It may not list the vehicle’s entire repair history, but the information it can give you should be part of your car buying research.
The company also offers a car valuation tool to help you calculate what your vehicle is worth. However, it requests less detail than the other two car platforms we tried. We could only find information for a 2016 Ford F-150 XL in Ontario. No further details were requested. For that lack of information, you receive a greater range: $15,968-$36,849, with an average price of $24,566.
What Car Valuation Tools Do Not Calculate
Many factors cannot be included in the calculations above. For example, if a vehicle is owned by a smoker, the smell of cigarette smoke makes a vehicle harder to sell, even with today’s odour-removal products. Vehicles requiring a good deal of maintenance will also command a lower price.
The Actual Price of Your Vehicle
If you plan to use your vehicle as a trade-in at a dealership and the amount they offer you is below what you expected, don’t be afraid to ask why. But also remember that a dealership will not offer you the retail price: they’ll offer you a trade-in price. As you saw in the example above with the KBB, there’s a difference. In the end, the choice is yours: you can sell privately or through a dealership. But do your research first and get educated on what your vehicle is worth before you buy your next one.