Son: Nice car Dad. How much did you pay for it?
Dad: Ten thousand dollars.
Son: I think that’s too much.
Dad: Really? How much do you think I should have paid?
Son: Four dollars.
There are only so many harsh Ottawa winters a car can take. A few months back, I took my 1992 Honda Accord to my mechanic who delivered the bad news: the car has roughly six months left before it will need significant repairs to keep it in running condition. So with a heavy heart, I turned in my old car to the Retire Your Ride program and went looking for a replacement. I wasn’t interested in getting a brand-new car — the initial depreciation hit is large and I live in a rather rough neighbourhood — young kids zipping around on bikes and if they can get away with it, climbing on cars. I started looking at private sales on Kijiji and Auto Trader but still turned to the trusty Canadian Red Book, which is available in most public libraries in the reference section, for guidance on pricing.
But there is an easier way. A website called VMR Canada provides an easy way to look up Canadian used car values for most makes, models and years. You can also refine the search by picking a trim, options such as leather seats and the number of clicks. I found the wholesale and retail values to be close to the Canadian Red Book for the various Honda Accords I looked at. Another useful pricing resource is the Black Book trade-in estimators available at many car manufacturer websites. Our 4-year old son obviously hadn’t checked out any of these sites, which probably explains why his estimate of car values is a bit on the low side.