A new car costs a fortune only to end its time of use at £100 scrapping value. In case of doubt a car valuation expert can help you to prevent a bad purchase.
This applies to virtually every car. Only a few exceptions such as specific types of Porsche or luxury brands, like Ferrari or Lamborghini always maintain a high residual value. It is therefore of interest to the owner to be aware of the actual value of his car. Ultimately when selling or buying a used car, the question of value is decisive.
What a car valuation expert is looking out for
A car valuation expert, commissioned to determine the value of a car works “from the outside inwards”
First of all the basic data are important:
– Year of construction
– General external condition
With increasing age a car loses its value. In the first five years the loss of value is particularly high. Count on anything between 30 and 50%. This is simply the law of supply and demand: from a specific amount the competition of a similar new car is too strong for the old used car to maintain its price.
Equally indicative as its age is the effect of its mileage. The higher the mileage on the odometer, the nearer the moment the car will need spare parts. Car parts are built for a specific mileage. Exceeding it, parts start to fail and do so relatively synchronously, after 20.000 – 30.000 kilometres. This can only partly be countered by meticulously keeping a maintenance book.
Garages have the maintenance plans of manufacturers and know exactly when to check a component and when to preventively replace it. A car with a well-kept maintenance book and 250.000 km on the odometer can therefore be valued higher than a similar car with 180.000 km without maintenance book.
Ultimately the general condition on the inside as well as the outside has a considerable effect on its residual value. A dirty interior, a dented and scratched bodywork and slight rust spots can reduce the expected sales price by more than half.
The small effort of a professional preparation is certainly worthwhile.
Step 2: looking under the metal
The second step of the car valuation expert is to take a good look at the bodywork. Important factors are:
– Accident damage and its repair
– Rust damage
No accident damage, no matter how well-repaired, will escape a professional car valuation expert. For the service provider it is important to determine if the car is safe for traffic. A car can look flawless on the outside – when the bodywork is warped, the car is only suitable as a spare part provider. Depending on how clever the accident repair has been executed, a layman could easily oversee it.
A car valuation expert immediately notices a car being painted over. It always makes him suspicious as this is an effective way of hiding dents. In the past a small magnet was used as an appraisal tool. Where the bodywork has been levelled out, the magnet does not adhere. Professional car experts now have a device for measuring the paint thickness in their standard equipment, allowing the service provider to determine whether a spot was levelled out as well as the thickness of the layer. The thicker the layer, the deeper the dent – and the heavier the collision.
Putty and paint are not exclusively used in case of accidents and dents. Often, rust is covered with these remedies. A careful and professional repair of rust damage only allows a very thin putty layer if any at all. Prior to that, the underlying rust should be professionally planed and sealed. If a rust spot or rust hole is simply filled, new rust development is a matter of a few months. Rust holes must therefore be welded. A welded spot is visible and has an adverse effect on the residual value of the car, however it will be valued more merciful than a thick layer of putty.
Engine and suspension
Ultimately the expert checks engine and suspension. An experienced eye is very important especially when purchasing a used car. An expert can read from the condition of the engine if the reported mileage is plausible.
A car with 80.000 km on the odometer should not have oil leaking from gaskets. A car with 180.000 or 280.000 km often has an oil leakage of some kind, when no obvious repairs have been conducted.
The condition of the suspension, brakes, shock absorbers and steering mechanism provides information on how the car has been treated. An experienced car valuation expert will see immediately if the car has been consistently pushed to its limits or was treated more or less gently. Tell-tale scratches on the wheel rim, rattling of the ball joints or quirks of the wishbone arms can decrease the value of the car by several hundreds of pounds.
The interior tells a lot indeed
A car interior betrays a lot about how the car was treated. A smokers’ car can nowadays hardly be sold to a non-smoker. The nicotine smell has a dramatic impact on the interior. Furthermore, in a smoker’s car burns on the upholstery, carpets and interior trim are never far away. No matter how professional the cleaning, it takes a considerable investment to adequately get rid of the marks. Alternatively a seller could accept a loss in value when the car valuation expert notices the tell-tale signs.
Just like the engine, the steering wheel, gear lever, the driver’s seat and the pedals can serve to read the mileage. The apparent mileage can adequately be checked for plausibility. If an 80.000 km car has worn or brand new pedal rubbers, whilst steering wheel and gear knob are shiny, something is not right.
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Car valuation expert in case of accident damage
A collision expert can be employed for valuation of a used car as well as for assessment of accident damage. It is advisable to engage an independent car valuation expert. A service provider summoned by the opposing insurance company will certainly use his scope to “discount” the damage. The reason is obvious: an insurer succeeding in saving a few bob on every damage case, generates a considerable yearly profit. The damaged party pays for this.
The expert not only assesses the damage of the car. On request he can make a cost report of all resulting damage for all parties involved, including costs for rental cars, loss of income, repair and much more all brought together in this amount. The report is basis for further handling by the opposing insurer. In case of dispute, the statement can provide evidence in a court decision.
Special case classic cars
Following a hesitant start in the 1970ies and 1980ies, trade in classic cars has developed into a real boom. The value of almost every model increases as soon as it has exceeded a certain age. After all, a thirty year old car of today was built in the late eighties. Cars were already of good quality then. No wonder the market of classic cars is well equipped. Nevertheless, specific types can reach staggering values.
It is a real challenge to discern a valuable classic car from an old car. A normal E30 BMW with 90 HP in a used condition can hardly be compared to an E30 M3 in new condition. The former is available for less than 1000 EUR, where the M3 can bring in hundred times that amount. The border between both extremes is a twilight zone. Adequately determining the actual value of a car is definitely a case for the professional.
Expertise creates security
Whether in trade of used cars, classic cars or luxury vehicles, an expert is always worth his fee. He offers buyer as well as seller a solid base for negotiation. In case of accidents, the services of a collision expert are indispensable. With a professional verdict from a certified expert, insurer and damaged party have maximal legal certainty. The expense for a valuation expert is always a sound investment.
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