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Rating Your Car

When selling your car on this site, you will be asked for a description of the car. The following is provided to assist you when you are creating the text for the description of your car.

When rating the condition of your vehicle, it is important to be objective. You will ultimately need to determine whether your vehicle's overall condition is Excellent, Good, Fair or Poor. This is an important judgment call on your part. To help you make this rating determination, special attention should be given to the following:

Excellent

An "excellent" vehicle rating means that the vehicle looks great, is in excellent mechanical condition and needs no reconditioning. It should pass a smog inspection. The engine compartment should be clean, with no fluid leaks. The paint is glossy and the paint, body and interior are free of any wear or visible defects. There is no rust. The tires the proper size and match and are new or nearly new. A clean title history is assumed.

Good

A "good" vehicle rating means that the vehicle is free of any major defects. The paint, body and interior have only minor (if any) blemishes, and there are no major mechanical problems. In states where rust is a problem, this should be very minimal, and a deduction should be made to correct it. The tires match and have substantial tread wear left. A clean title history is assumed. A "good" vehicle may need some reconditioning to be sold at retail, however major reconditioning should be deducted from the value. Many cars owned by consumers fall into this category.

Fair

A "fair" vehicle rating means that the vehicle probably has some mechanical defects, but is still in safe running condition. The paint, body and/or interior need work to be performed by a professional in order to be sold. The tires need to be replaced. There may be some repairable rust damage. The value of cars in this category may vary widely, but a clean title history is assumed. Even after significant reconditioning this vehicle may not qualify for the Blue Book Suggested Retail value.

Poor

We do not attempt to report a value on a truly poor vehicle. The value of cars in this category vary greatly, from vehicles with problems that can't be readily fixed (damaged frame, rusted through body) to vehicles with title or odometer (true mileage unknown) problems. In general, a vehicle in this category should be appraised by a professional to determine its value.

Headliner

The lining above your head on the underside of the roof. Headliners are usually not a problem. However, sometimes they are faded or have stains or tears. They can be replaced, but this requires some time and expense.

Upholstery

Should be clean and not faded or ripped. Leather is a special case. It usually has some added value if it is in good shape. However, if it needs repair or replacing it is much more expensive than cloth or vinyl to do so.

Carpets

Older cars usually have some carpet wear. If so, it must be replaced for the vehicle to be worth top dollar. Any stains will reduce the value.

Dashboard

The dashboard is usually not a problem. However, sometimes they have been dented or scratched. More often they could have sun damage in the form of fading or cracking leather or vinyl trim.

Metal and Paint

Metal and paint are very subjective items. You must keep in mind that while some minor dents and scratches are normal wear and tear as the car gets older, the new buyer expects it to be perfect. When you drive the same car for several years, these imperfections sometimes start to go unnoticed. Door chips and sand damage are sometimes subtle and should be looked at carefully.

A warning about Metal and Paint reconditioning: If you have paid for reconditioning that was not done properly (a "fixed" dent that appears wavy, etc.) the person appraising the car may deduct for reconditioning anyway.

Glass

The side windows are usually not a problem as long as they operate properly. You should pay special attention to the windshield and rear window. The rear window sometimes gets sun damage in the form of checking, cracking or discoloration. The windshield is the most important glass, as it is the most expensive and is most subject to damage. Besides the obvious cracking, checking and discoloration, sand damage is the most commonly overlooked problem by the layman. Sand damage can range from slight to the point where it impairs vision. In either case, the windshield will usually need to be replaced.

Rust

Check around the window mouldings, wheel wells, under the doors, door hinge area and taillight mouldings. Look in the trunk area under the mat. Look for rust on the hubcaps or on the bumper. Look underneath the vehicle. Is there rust on the underbody? Look under the hood. Is the engine compartment pitted or corroded?

Mechanical

The exact nature of a mechanical problem is difficult for a layman to diagnose. Even the experts can't always be sure of the nature or the magnitude of the problem without at least partially disabling the part. If you are in doubt, have a reputable repair shop give you an opinion of the problem and an estimated cost of repair.

Tires

Tires must be the proper size and match for the vehicle. They should be near new to avoid a deduction when the car is appraised. The depth of the new tire tread for the average passenger car is about 3/8" (this can go to nearly 1/2"). All-terrain and off-road tires found on trucks and sport utility vehicles should have at least 1/4" of tread. Any less than 1/4" will likely result in a deduction as the dealer will probably want to replace the tires before offering the vehicle for resale.

Interior

  • Headliner - Look for fading, stains, rips or loose edges.
  • Upholstery - Look for fading, stains, rips or excessive wear.
  • Carpets - Look for fading, stains, rips, excessive wear and loose or frayed edges.
  • Dashboard - Look for dents scratches and the condition of any leather, vinyl or other trim.

Exterior

  • Metal - Look for dents and creases that are deeper than the paint. (Don't overlook the parking lot dings/dents on or around your doors.)
  • Paint - Look for fading, scratches and other discoloration.
  • Glass - Look for cracks, chips or pitting in the windshield.
  • Trim - Look for loose or dented moldings and frosted chrome (sand damaged), particularly on the front of the vehicle and the front bumper.
  • Rust - Look for rust all around and under vehicle, especially around wheel wells rear window and doors.

Mechanical

You probably have some idea as to how your car is running, however some of the tell-tale signs of present or future problems are:

  • Knocking or clicking sounds coming from the engine
  • Noise from the drive train or tires
  • Smoke from the exhaust
  • Smoke from the engine compartment
  • Oil leaks in your driveway or garage
  • Clattering when you release the clutch (manual transmissions)
  • Poor braking
  • Grinding noise while braking
  • Loss of power
  • Uneven power
  • Pinging noise when accelerating
  • Radiator corrosion
  • Uneven tire wear

Tires

If the tires are more than 50% worn a dealer would probably want to replace them before offering your vehicle for sale. Also look for cracks or cuts on the sidewalls. All tires should match and be the proper size for your vehicle.

Overall

Look at the overall appearance of your car.

  • Is it a popular color?
  • Does the interior color blend well with the exterior color?
  • Does it sit square and level on the road?
  • Is it well equipped with popular optional equipment?
  • Is it relatively free of squeaks and rattles?
  • Would you purchase this car if you were looking for a similar make and model?



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