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Deciding what to do when you’re forced to get rid of your car can be a pain. To add on to that pain, there’s the constant feeling that you’re not getting your car’s worth. Whether it’s your insurance company, junkyards, or private buyers, everyone seems like they’re getting over on you.

negotiating over prices

But how do you know?

Most policy-holders aren’t aware of how insurance companies calculate Actual Cash Value (ACV) of their vehicles. Furthermore, how junkyards and private buyers calculate it can vary.

Quite confusing, we know.

That’s why CarBrain shares exactly how it determines the ACV of your vehicle. In the spirit of education and transparency, we want our customers to know exactly how we came to the number they receive during their quote.

The ACV Equation

The Actual Cash Value can be simplified as the Replacement Value of the vehicle minus the depreciation value of the vehicle. Additionally, other factors that can weigh in on the vehicle’s ACV are its age, its mileage, the vehicle’s features, and its pre-loss condition.

On top of that, you can expect your car’s “salvage value” to be factored in as well. This is the value of your vehicle’s parts purely as scrap metal. Your engine, catalytic converter, and transmission are the most attractive pieces of your vehicle for scrap buyers.

calculating actual cash value

Most of this is standard fare when calculating an ACV, but largely unknown to the average person.

Now, when CarBrain is calculating your ACV, we are also factoring in its Fair Market Value.

Fair Market Value

The Fair Market Value (FMV) of your vehicle (or any property) is the price to which a knowledgeable buyer and seller would both agree.

What defines them as “knowledgeable?” Whether or not they know both prices in the market and all of the facts about the property in question. For example, if the buyer does not know your catalytic converter is missing, then their offer is not based on market value.

Unfortunately, there isn’t an “industry-wide” definition for Actual Cash Value within the insurance industry, which means the ACV and the Market Value can often be assumed to be the same. The Appraisal Foundation even describes Market Value as an “opinion of value,” which leaves plenty of room for “interpretation.”

CarBrain & Your Actual Cash Value

happy CarBrain client

Fortunately, CarBrain factors in the market value for your vehicle into account when calculating your quote. Vehicles in a higher demand will inadvertently net a higher quote than those without. However, the other factors that weigh in on the vehicle’s value are:

  • Vehicles with same make, model, and trim

  • Vehicles with similar mileage

  • Vehicles with similar damage

  • The vehicle’s region

We use vehicles with the same make, model, and trim as yours to gather an average value for your vehicle. Vehicles with similar mileage also help us determine how to calculate the ACV for your car. Through compiling this data, we do our best to give you a satisfactory value for your car.

When you contact us on, you’ll receive a quote for your vehicle within 90 seconds. A few photos, some basic information, and your VIN is all we need to give you your quote.

Once you accept the quote, we provide free pick-up and title change services. You can schedule to have that vehicle off your hands within 24-48 hours, all without inconveniencing yourself in the slightest.

Contact CarBrain today and sell your junk car now!

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Frequently Asked Questions

Are Actual Cash Value and Market Value the same?

The Market Value (a.k.a. Fair Market Value) is an educated guess at the value of an item (in this case, your car) done by someone with complete knowledge of the vehicle’s condition. The Actual Cash Value is solely the replacement value minus the depreciation value. Your ACV is formed through an established equation, while the MV is left up to more open interpretation.

Is Actual Cash Value or Trade-In Value Better?

Trade-In Value is whatever the dealership is willing to pay for your vehicle. The Trade-In Value can either be more or less than the Actual Cash Value of your vehicle. Ultimately, whether or not it is “better” varies case-by-case and is dependent on the influence of external factors.

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