Parkers is one of the biggest names in the online car community. Its website offers a plethora of used cars for sale. It offers a free and useful car history check. And the articles by its editorial team are usually extremely insightful and in-depth. In a world, where car reviews face a lot of criticism, it is a valuable and trustworty source of information.
Parkers is probably best known for its car valuations, however. All it takes are a few clicks. You can get an overview of typical sales- and purchase prices for almost every single car ever built after 1972. Most of this information is entirely free. No wonder Parkers is held in the highest esteem by many potential buyers.
And yet, Parkers is not without its critics. Many have argued that its car valuation system is simply not accurate enough and nudging consumers into wrong expectations.
We’ve taken a look behind the curtain to uncover the truth. Can you really trust Parker’s car valuations?
What is Parkers?
Parkers, today, is an online marketplace and website packed to the brim with pricing information on cars. In terms of its visitors, it is one of the UK’s biggest car themed websites and one of the biggest worldwide. According to their own statistics, more than 2,5 million people visit the platform each month, generating almost 300 million page impressions per year.
These numbers are impressive. And indeed, Parkers is one of the few traditional pre-digital institutions to benefit from the advent of the Internet. In 1972, Parkers started out as a print magazine listing pricing information on most available cars on the UK market. In 1988, the company went online. Since then, it has quickly established itself as the UK’s leading valuations outlet.
Curiously, the magazine is still in print and continues as the UK’s only printed car valuations publication. Only recently, it was updated to include “road tests, buying guides and more deals-specific content”.
What does Parkers offer?
Although Parkers has built a sizable online market place for used and almost new cars, its primary area of expertise still lies in car valuations.
There are two tiers. On a first level, you can access all valuations for cars built after 2004 for free. For most buyers, this information will be more than enough.
If you are looking for older cars or if you want more detailed buying information, you can pay a small tribute and access the full database built over decades.
How does Parkers arrive at its valuations?
In an ideal world, a car valuation service would compile data on every single sales transactions in the UK. Using this data, it could create exact averages for all models from all generations.
This, needless to say, is unfortunately an impossibly complex task.
Instead, Parkers mostly relies on intelligent software algorithms to do the task for them. These programs are capable of estimating realistic car prices using a wide range of variables. Age and mileage are the most important of these.
To verify their prognoses, Parkers also samples actual sales prices at retailers and private party sales. Each month, their team collects information on hundreds of transactions, comparing the data with the calculations in the Parkers database.
By thus combining complex statistical tools and representative sales feedback, their valuations aim to get the most out of what is practically possible.
How accurate is Parkers?
Parkers may well be the most well-known car valuation service in the UK. It hasn’t earned this position for nothing. On many models, its prices are pretty accurate, as thousands of buyers will gladly confirm.
And yet, many have complained about the sometimes vast differences between the car valuations by Parkers and the actual price they got from their dealer. In some cases, these can amount to thousands of Pounds!
To some critics, this devalues the usefulness of the Parkers car valuations as whole: What good are they, if you ultimately end up paying a lot more than expected?
A guide is just a guide
One thing you’ll notice is this: Parkers’ valuations tend to be more accurate the more recently a car was built. Beyond the latest crop of cars, there is a lot of leeway in the market. As many car dealers emphasise, their showroom prices are not based on Parkers’ valuation, but on their perception of the condition of the car, the repairs they’ve made and the general price level in their area.
Parkers is not a bible, where every price is set in stone. For one, its prices are
b) based on calculations from a wide range of factors and dealers.
Its valuation system is not designed to replace the market pricing, but to give you a rough idea of what you may have to fork out. Ultimately, a dealer will ask as much for a car as he can get. And she won’t change her mind, just because you’re shoving your recent Parkers guide under their nose.
Finally, the price of a car depends vitally on the financing that goes with it. In fact, a great financing offer can more than make up for an otherwise mediocre price. So you could be paying slightly more than Parkers’ estimates and still get a great deal.
How to improve accuracy
That said, you can improve the accuracy of Parkers car valuations considerably. To do this, simply compare its valuations to those by its main competitors: mycarcheck.com (formerly wisebuyers.co.uk) and autotraders. Add to that local offers on ebay and select dealerships in your city and you have a far clearer picture of the kind of price you’ll have to pay.
In the past, the Glass guide was a serious alternative to Parkers. In fact, Glass was and continues to be the most reliable source for car professionals. Its services, however, are not available to private individuals.
If used intelligently, it really helps to make full use of the information provided by Parkers:
- Look for the exact model you want to buy. Parkers allows you to differentiate between different build years and engine models and pretty much everything else.
- Did you know you can specify the condition of the car? Depending on this, the price will either be above or below the general market level.
- All Parkers car valuations are based on average mileages of 10,000 miles per year. Thus, if the car in questions exceeds this number by a lot, the price should reflect this.
Is Parkers useful? Absolutely. Is it always spot on? Not really. But if used in combination with other sources, it can give you a pretty good first impression about the right price for your future car.