You can always trust a car salesman to quote you fair prices for your trade-in and the car you want to purchase...or can you? There's no need to take chances when you can readily find out these values on your own. Once you do, you'll get a good idea what your present car is worth if you trade it or sell it outright. You'll also get a good idea what a fair price is for your new car. It's easy to do, either by asking your credit union loan officer or looking them up on the internet.
Ask Your Loan Officer
Under normal circumstances, your credit union will be more than happy to help you look up values on the new or used car you want to buy. In fact, they'll probably do it on their own anyway. After all, the lending institution typically doesn't want to lend more money than the vehicle is worth.
Guides vary slightly between credit unions, but the most common are the NADA Used Car Guide, Kelly Blue Book, and the computer program PC Carbook. NADA and Kelly will give you information on the trade-in value, loan value, and retail value of your present vehicle, or on a used car you are looking to buy. (PC Carbook tends to focus more on new vehicles) Most guides include values of specific options on the car. NADA and Kelly feature a mileage table that can either add value to your car (for lower than average miles) or deduct for higher miles.
The numbers you get out of these guides become a starting point to negotiation. Remember, every car has it's own unique features, and probably some flaws, that may affect its ultimate value.
Internet Pricing Guides
As one would certainly expect, there is plenty of vehicle pricing information on-line. (Obviously, if you're reading this, you are well aware that such consumer education abounds on the internet.) Fortunately, you've discovered a fantastic starting point - CU Auto Online, provided by your credit union, is a first step in your quest, and one that is provided by your friends at the credit union. In all fairness, we also won't deny that there are many, many alternatives. If specific information is what you're after, and it can't be found on CU Auto Online, your favorite search engine will likely yield dozens of web sites that may offer solutions.
A word to the wise, however, that is true of any on-line investigation - Know your source. If it is unclear who sponsors, hosts, or offers the information you are gathering, the numbers you collect may not be accurate. If you have any doubts of the integrity of your source, gather comparative data. Or, visit with your credit union loan officer. Odds are, they have favorite web-based tools that will aid in your quest.
New Car Pricing
New car manufacturers often love to brag about their vehicles. Use this to your advantage. Visit manufacturers’ websites and "build your own" new car. Here you can price different makes and models, add or subtract options, and even look at different colors on the car you'd like to buy. Remember, prices quoted on these sites are most likely retail values. So if you suffer "sticker shock" when you price out the car don't worry, there is probably some room to negotiate when you get to the showroom.