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How to Use VMR Price Guides

Over the last thirty years, car manufacturers have been continually adding standard equipment to all classes of automobiles. Today, a vehicle without air conditioning, power windows or an automatic transmission is unusual. Years ago these were options even on Cadillacs and Mercedes!

Unless indicated otherwise, the price for each model of each vehicle includes: automatic transmission, air conditioning, power brakes, steering, windows and locks, and am-fm stereo. You usually need to adjust the listed price if this equipment is not present on the vehicle or if there are other options installed on the vehicle. The dollar amounts to be added or deducted are listed with each vehicle, and automatically adjust the overall price if checked when the "Calculate" button is clicked.

Understanding standard and optional equipment pricing is one of the most important parts of buying or selling a used car. Many consumers pay extra for "options" that are actually part of a vehicle's standard equipment. Today, most options are a part of a "Group" or "Package" where individual options are only available if the entire package is ordered. This maximizes profit for the manufacturer and limits your choices, but that's how it is today. Vehicle Market Research International (VMR) does extensive research on equipment levels, so the consumer knows exactly what he or she should be paying for.

If equipment is not standard on a model and affects its value it will be listed in a table of factory-installed equipment that follows the model. Use these tables to add to the price if the vehicle has the option and deduct if it does not.

If equipment is not listed in the Add or Deduct sections of each model, it is either standard or does not appreciably affect its value. Do not add or deduct for equipment that is not listed with the model.

"Loaded" vehicles - Vehicles equipped with lots of minor optional equipment ("gadgets and toys") may be worth slightly more than the values listed in this guide.

Dealer or owner-installed options - If you determine that an option was installed by the dealer or the owner, it should be carefully inspected and usually valued at less than a similar manufacturer-installed option.

Important Terms

Base Equipment Levels - VMR has based all prices for all vehicles on the same level of equipment: Automatic transmission, air conditioning, power steering, brakes, windows and locks, and am/fm stereo are included in all pricing unless specifically indicated otherwise.

Wholesale - The price a seller should expect to receive from a dealer in a sale or trade. It assumes that the vehicle is in good mechanical condition, clean and well maintained. Any reconditioning or repair costs should be deducted. If there is no price, data was not available at time of publishing.

Retail - The maximum a buyer should expect to pay a dealer. It also assumes that the car needs no mechanical attention and is clean, showing only normal wear. Any reconditioning or repair costs should be deducted. Keep in mind dealers usually ask for more than they will take and that dealer guides tend to be on the high side of the market.

Condition - All prices in this guide assume that the vehicle is "clean" and in good mechanical condition. For vehicles not up to this standard, reconditioning or repair costs should be deducted. Vehicles in superior condition usually command a premium, typically around 5%, but sometimes more.

Availability - Refers to supply and demand. If particularly "hot" and in great demand with a limited supply, you can expect to pay a premium for the vehicle. This variable is also affected by seasonal and geographic factors. Local classifieds can give you a feel for availability of a model.

Private sale - A sale between two individuals. No dealer is involved. If buying from a private party, you should pay less than retail.

"Demo" Vehicles - Vehicles that have strictly been used as demonstration models. Dealers sometimes try to sell used vehicles as demos and try to charge new car prices. There is no concrete rule, but anything with over 1000 kilometers should be considered a used vehicle and priced accordingly.

"Salvage" Vehicles - Vehicles that have a salvage title due to extensive body and frame work, should be valued substantially less than prices in this guide. VMR does not recommend purchasing these vehicles.

Do Your Homework

Find out what it's worth - Use the VMR guide to determine the wholesale and retail value of the vehicle you want to buy or sell. Be sure to add or deduct for options or packages listed with each car or on the van and truck option table.

Adjust for mileage - VMR has built in three mileage charts, depending on the wholesale value of the vehicle. Be sure to add or deduct for mileage. Selecting the miles on the vehicle will adjust the overall price if it is low or high for the year.