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The best tool to determine your car's value

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Khatir Soltani
***NOTE: An updated version of this article is now available. Click here.
When the time comes to sell or trade in a used car, everyone's biggest fear is getting screwed and shortchanged. A number of tools and resources are available, but it can be tough to sort everything out and prepare oneself to successfully negotiate future transactions.

In Canada, Black Book, Red Book and Sanford Evans' Gold Book are the top references available. Aside from their different colours, they all provide similar services and data to help owners determine the market value of their car.

Black Book
At the moment, Black Book is the only one available online for free.

You can determine the amount a dealer will likely offer in exchange for your vehicle. Year, make, model, equipment and kilometres are taken into account. You will get two different trade-in values (Low and High) based on the condition and mileage of the vehicle.

You can also have a general idea of how your car will depreciate over five years. This way, you'll know when getting rid of it makes the most financial sense.

Lastly, Black Book provides the average asking price in real time. You can double-check this information on websites like

Red Book
Red Book lists wholesale and retail values for specific vehicles based on the year, make, model, kilometres, and options. Two written documents (English only) are at your disposal.

The first, at $31.95, contains data on 6-year-old or younger vehicles. The second, titled "Older Car & Light Duty Truck," retails for $33.95 and focuses on vehicles that are 7 to 15 years old. An annual subscription is available for $115.

The Red Book could prove useful if you want to know how much your old rig is worth. Otherwise, it might be preferable to use Black Book and save your money.

An online version of Red Book is also accessible at all times for $249.95. That's an unattractively high price for individual owners, but dealers and fleet managers can easily turn this into a profitable investment.

Gold Book
Sanford Evans' Gold Book offers two English publications containing about the same information as the other two books.

The USED (2013-2007) and OLDER (2006-1997) Vehicle Value Guides combine to cover 17 model years -- a longer span than either Black Book or Red Book.

If you want to get a value assessment for a vehicle anywhere between 17 and 22 years old, your best option is definitely their Value Guide package (all 16 issues of USED and OLDER), which costs $149 a year.

Other considerations
No matter which book you choose, remember that the values listed should serve as a guide only. Many different parameters besides the ones already mentioned also affect the equation and may include, but are not be limited to, seasonal considerations, rarety, and desirablity.
The other option is to simply shop online for a car as similar as possible to yours and averaging the amounts out.
Khatir Soltani
Khatir Soltani
Automotive expert
As a car enthusiast, he tests and compares vehicles from different categories through the eyes of the consumer, ensuring relevant and objective reviews.
  • Over 6 years experience as a car reviewer
  • Over 50 test drives in the last year
  • Involved in discussions with virtually every auto manufacturer in Canada