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Kelley Blue Book Used Pricing Guide

If you ask what your car is worth, you might think the answer would be a simple number — say, $10,000. But in reality, each vehicle has several values, depending upon who is selling and who is buying the vehicle. For example, if you plan to sell your car to an individual — a private party — you can expect to get more money for it than if you plan to trade it in to a dealer.

Why? Because the dealer will take the trade-in and turn around and sell it to another buyer hoping to make some money on that transaction. Private-party buyers generally don't plan to re-sell the cars they buy. Because of factors like these, each used vehicle has a trade-in value, a private party value, and a value that the dealer expects to get when the car is retailed to a new buyer. Vehicles also have an auction value, and new vehicles have a manufacturer's suggested retail price (MSRP) that is often the place where purchase negotiations begin.


It is valuable for all parties to have an independent, unbiased source of information for vehicle values because it aids the negotiation and buy-sell processes. Without established vehicle values, each price negotiation would be infinitely more complicated.

For almost a century, Kelley Blue Book is one of several "guide book" companies that have provided that information to those who need it — dealers, financial institutions, insurance companies, and, most recently, consumers. For the pricing information to be of use it must be accurate, if not "penny perfect," and it must be credible. All parties to each transaction must have respect for the information if they are going to rely on it as they negotiate and come to a deal.

Kelley Blue Book values are derived from massive amounts of data, including actual sales transactions and auction prices, which are analyzed and adjusted to account for seasonality and market trends. Because the auto market has significant regional differences, they are also adjusted to reflect local conditions in more than 100 different geographic areas and are updated weekly to give consumers up-to-date used-car pricing information.

To gain all the data necessary, KBB uses several key data sources including wholesale auctions, independent dealers, franchised dealers, and private-party transactions. Traditionally, it has relied heavily on wholesale auctions because those auctions reflect information from key sources including consumers, dealers, financial institutions, rental fleets, and leasing companies.


Kelley Blue Book values are not precise. They are estimates, but they are estimates based on a well-established process, giant amounts of data, and generations of expertise in determining and, in some ways, establishing vehicle values. Kelley Blue Book calls it "a proprietary editorial process." It starts with a thorough analysis of all collected data, and it is informed and "leavened" with historical trends, current economic conditions, industry developments, seasonality, and location.

The values that result from the process, in KBB's words, "reflect the most current representation of a changing marketplace and are therefore relied upon by a variety of leading organizations as well as the average consumer." The overarching goal is to provide a credible guide in an ever-changing buying-and-selling environment that sees thousands of transactions each day.

Mounds of data are used to produce the values Kelley Blue Book quotes, and it is valuable to know what types of data are used in the process. First, there is market demand. Depending on the area in which the vehicle is being sold, relative demand has a major impact on the used vehicle's value. An individual used car sold in New York may be valued differently than the same used car sold in Iowa. A second criterion is the vehicle's condition.

The current state of a used vehicle has a major impact on its value. This, of course, is subject to personal opinion, which is why the values can only be used as a guide rather than being precise. Yet another criterion is the individual car's equipment level — a car with no extras and that same model car with a full array of high-tech and comfort features will have two different values. Finally, there are its age and mileage, which are a proxy for how heavily worn the vehicle is and how close it is to the end of its useful life.


Kelley Blue Book trade-in value is the amount you could expect to receive from the dealer if you traded it in as part of a transaction in which you buy or lease another vehicle. Keep in mind that this assumes an accurate appraisal of the vehicle. In real-world situations, both you and the dealer come to an agreement on the value of the vehicle you are trading in — in reality, selling to the dealer — and that happens at the conclusion of your negotiations with the dealer.

It is also important to note that the trade-in-value is very often less than you would receive if you sold the car yourself to a private individual, and it could be more than you'd get if you sold it outright to a dealer.

The Kelley Blue Book used private-party value is what you can expect to pay if you sold the car to an individual consumer. It is also an approximation of what you might expect to pay if you bought the used car from an independent seller. As with all Kelly Blue Book values, the private-party value is a guide. It can change depending on several factors.

If there is a warranty attached to the vehicle, the dealer's asking price is likely to be higher than the private-party value because warranty coverage has value. Should the vehicle be in excellent condition, that will drive up the price, because the value is predicated on a vehicle in less-than-excellent condition. It is interesting to note Kelley Blue Book estimates that only 3 percent of all used vehicles are in excellent condition.

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The certified preowned value of a value is a used vehicle value that incorporates the fact that the vehicle is offered with a manufacturer-backed warranty rather than as-is, which is the way the typical used vehicle is sold. As we mentioned earlier, warranty coverage offers peace of mind that customers will pay extra for, so the CPO value is universally higher than the private party value.

Retail-oriented values like CPO value take into account dealers' profit, costs for advertising, sales commissions, and other costs of doing business. In the end, Kelley Blue Book used car pricing can serve as a good barometer for buying and selling a vehicle. When used in conjunction with your own independent research, it can ensure that you get a price that is fair.


You’ve probably heard people refer to ‘book value’ when talking about a car’s price. The ‘book’ they’re talking about is usually the Kelley Blue Book. It’s a price guide, published by an automotive research company of the same name. The Blue Book, or KBB, has been around since 1926 (which is impressive, given that there weren’t actually a lot of cars around back then).

All you have to do is enter the details (make, model, year, mileage, color, options) of the car you’re looking to buy or sell, and it’ll give you the Kelley Blue Book value—a price range to expect. It has different ranges for whether you’re planning to buy or sell privately (where you’ll typically get the best price), or buy from or trade in to a dealer.

The KBB is a great starting point when you’re trying to determine the fair market value of a car you’re selling or buying. But it’s not the final word, and definitely not the only source of car pricing information out there.

And, there’s a caveat, with Kelley Blue Book value and all the other pricing sites and tools—they may not accurately reflect the most current market trends. They’re ‘updated’ frequently (KBB is updated weekly), but it’s hard to know what, exactly, constitutes an ‘update’. The reality is that they use algorithms and averages, which may not capture big changes in the market right away.

For example, the used car market right now has shifted so extremely and quickly, as a result of the effects of the pandemic, that KBB and the others probably aren’t fully capturing this unprecedented spike in prices.

Black Book

There’s also the Black Book—no, not the kind where people used to keep phone numbers of dating prospects back before smartphones. This Black Book keeps track of all the car makes and models out there, and their valuation. It’s similar to the Blue Book, except that it’s dealer-focused. It also has more detailed and paid tiers, for really detailed information that would be valuable to dealers but more than a consumer would need. It offers more consideration for future valuation of a car, as well.

In recent years, the Black Book has shifted its focus toward dealers and brokers, and they offer business-focused paid products now. So you’re likely to see Black Book car value calculation tools on some dealers’ websites.

In addition to the ‘books’ (which of course are primarily websites now), there are some other sites that serve as useful valuation references.


NADAguides is short for National Appraisal Guides, which makes us think someone over there has a thing or two to learn about acronyms. But what they do know is used car prices. NADA is powered by J.D. Power’s valuation data, and is slightly more geared toward car dealers and lenders, whereas the KBB is focused on consumer car buying and selling.

That said, the NADAguides website is quite consumer-friendly and easy to use, so it’s worth checking out the NADA used car value calculator.

Each of these sites have different details; for example, one might be missing certain optional equipment that the other one has, when you’re speccing out the details of the car you’re looking to buy or sell. And the Kelley Blue Book site asks you to specify color, whereas NADA does not.

Sites that advise you on your particular listing

Sites like TRED use the guide information from the above entities, but also use their own local market data on what particular cars have been selling for in that area—which is the very most accurate and realistic data to go by. They can then advise on what price to list your car at —and how long it will likely take to sell at various price points— so you can find the right balance between price and speed of sale.

The markethas the final word

It’s very helpful to do your research and be informed when you’re trying to figure out a fair price for the car you’re buying or selling. It’s advantageous to know the Black Book, NADA, or KBB used car value. But you can’t always expect to get the price that the guides suggest.

There are always extenuating circumstances, both around buyer or seller preferences and situations. Maybe your car is an unpopular color. Or it’s missing a feature that buyers of that model typically want it to have. For example, a recent car that lacks a navigation system can be a tough sell; many buyers, especially of cars that are considered more ‘luxury’, want and expect it to have nav. Likewise, buyers of certain pickups or SUVs are generally going to be less interested if it doesn’t have four wheel drive.

On the circumstances side, maybe the guy who’s selling that white Miata you’ve got your eye on has kind of mixed feelings about selling it. He has it priced a little high, and isn’t interested in selling it for a penny under asking. But another local seller, with the same year and similar mileage Miata in red, is moving out of the country in a week, so she’s very motivated to sell. And then your preferences come into play—you like the white better than the red, but… how much is that preference worth to you?

So human factors always come into play, but overall market trends tend to be a good way to predict prices overall!

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Published by Christina Perry

Marketer, writer, car geek, content wrangler at @TRED. View all posts by Christina Perry

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Kelley Blue Book Car Values - a Trusted Resource?

How Accurate are Kelley Blue Book® Car Values When Selling Your Car?

Car sellers often turn to Kelley Blue Book® to find out how much is my car worth. Kelley Blue Book or KBB is a respected used car price guide often quoted by used car dealers to demonstrate that prices of cars on their lots are fair. When it comes to realizing the Blue Book price when selling a used car outright, sellers often find their expectations are set too high.

When trading in your car for a new car, you'll usually be offered an attractive price for your car. Dealers use questioning techniques to find out whether you're more interested in a great trade-in price or are looking for a big discount on a new car and will tailor the deal to give you the perception of value. The most important factor for you as a buyer, however, is the cost to change. Attractive trade-in prices are usually subsidized by reducing the discount on your new car. The dealer is looking at the overall profit on the deal.

If you want to sell your car privately or get a bigger discount on your next car by avoiding the dealer's trade-in math, the Blue Book trade-in price may not be the best benchmark for you. Kelley Blue Books's trade-in price assumes you're buying another car and the dealer has some profit to play with. Selling privately, you're unlikely to get the Kelley Blue Book trade in price, but that doesn't mean you're getting a bad deal, simply a fair market price. A dealer paying Blue Book for a trade-in is either going to retail the car (more profit) or push it back through the auto auctions, often at a loss. How can a dealer pay Blue Book and afford to sell your trade-in at a loss? The answer's simple, the trade-in math favors the dealer.

For a fair value for your car, try the fast, safe and fair way to sell your car today at®. Need convincing that the KBB value may not be as accurate as you think? Check out KBB Instant Cash Offer. This is where KBB gives you a better idea of your car's true value which may be much lower if you're not trading in against a shiny new car with a very high profit margin. Remember, KBB makes money from selling leads (your personal information) to dealers.


Kelley Blue Book

Vehicle valuation and automotive research company

Kelley Blue Book is an Irvine, California-based vehicle valuation and automotive research company that is recognized by both consumers and the automotive industry.[3][4][5][6][7][8][9] The company is owned by the Cox Automotive subsidiary of Cox Enterprises.


The company began as the Kelley Kar Company founded by Les Kelley in 1918.[5][8][10] Kelley started the company with three Model T Fords.[11] His younger brother, Buster, worked with Kelley as a lot boy.[11] By using data collected from the dealership, Kelley published the company’s first Blue Book in 1926, which became a standard guide in automotive trade in determining car value.[8][9][11] Kelley Blue Book was formed in 1926, and the Kelley family continued its dealership business in Southern California for several decades.[5][8][11] By the 1960s, the company moved from a car dealership to a specialty publisher and focused on the production of its automobile price guide.[8] Kelley Blue Book guide became the first publication to use mileage to determine a car's value.[citation needed]

In 1995, Kelley Blue Book created its company website, which contained tips and pricing information from its hardcopy guide.[12]

In December 2010, Kelley Blue Book was purchased by[5][6][13] After its acquisition, the company operated as a subsidiary of, Inc.[14]

In 2013, the company formed an alliance with Bitauto Holdings Ltd. to expand into China.[15]


In 2014, Kelley Blue Book signed a two-year agreement with Hendrick Motorsports to be a primary sponsor of Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s No. 88 Chevrolet SSNASCAR Sprint Cup Series team.[16][17]


The company reports market value prices for new and used automobiles of all types, as well as motorcycles, snowmobiles and personal watercraft.[18] For both new and used automobiles, Kelley Blue Book provides a fair market range and fair purchase price, based on actual transactions of what others are paying for a vehicle and adjusted regularly as market conditions change.[19][20] For new automobiles, Kelley Blue Book also provides information about a car's MSRP and dealer invoice price.[21] For used cars, Kelley Blue Book provides typical listing price, certified pre-owned price, trade-in value and private party value.[22][23] Kelley Blue Book also offers expert and consumer vehicle reviews and ratings, and 5-year cost to own information for new cars.[24][25]


In 2012-2014, Harris Poll recognized Kelley Blue Book as the Online Auto Shopping Brand of the Year.[26][27] In addition, the company received a WebAward in the automotive category of Outstanding Website for two consecutive years.[28]


  1. ^Christopher Seward (5 August 2014). "New presidents named for, Kelley Blue Book". Retrieved 21 September 2014.
  2. ^Fred Meier (21 August 2014). "Cox creates wholesale, retail auto sales giant". USA Today. Retrieved 21 September 2014.
  3. ^Sabah Karimi (10 September 2014). "7 Things You Must Do Before Buying a Used Car". U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved 21 September 2014.
  4. ^"KBB: Chevrolet Impala tops comfortable cars list". Florida Times-Union. 22 August 2014. Archived from the original on 26 August 2014. Retrieved 21 September 2014.
  5. ^ abcd"Kelley Blue Book Profile". Bloomberg Businessweek. Retrieved September 24, 2013.
  6. ^ ab" Buys Kelley Blue Book". Wall Street Journal. October 26, 2010. Retrieved September 24, 2013.
  7. ^Hirsch, J. (September 22, 2011). "Kelley blue book warns of impostor website". Los Angeles Times.
  8. ^ abcde"Kelley Blue Book Tests the World Wide Web as a Distribution Source". New York Times. October 28, 1996.
  9. ^ abRobert Duffer (May 21, 2013). "Fuel-efficient vehicles fill out best family cars list for 2013". Chicago Tribune. Archived from the original on February 24, 2014. Retrieved September 24, 2013.
  10. ^Jeff Glucker (May 26, 2011). "Kelley Blue Book has a new look". Auto. Retrieved September 24, 2013.
  11. ^ abcd"Used-car innovator invented the 'blue book'". The Globe and Mail. December 11, 2001.
  12. ^Kristen Schott (26 October 2010). " buys Kelley Blue Book". OC Metro. Retrieved 30 July 2014.
  13. ^Shira Ovide (October 26, 2010). "Kelley Blue Book Sold at Near-Mint Condition". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved September 24, 2013.
  14. ^Li, S. (October 27, 2010). "AutoTrader plans to buy kelley blue book; terms of the deal, which requires regulatory approval, are not disclosed". LA Times.
  15. ^Clough, Richard (November 9, 2013). "Kelley Blue Book to expand into China". The Orange County Register. p. Business 1.
  16. ^"First-time NASCAR sponsor joins Earnhardt's No. 88". 13 February 2014. Retrieved 30 July 2014.
  17. ^"Kelley Blue Book to sponsor Dale Earnhardt Jr". Hendrick Motorsports. 13 February 2014. Retrieved 30 July 2014.
  18. ^Kirsti Correa (March 1, 2012). "Irvine-based Kelley Blue Book partners with Cyclechex to offer used-motorcycle information". OC Metro. Retrieved September 24, 2013.
  19. ^"KBB Launches Price Advisor Tool". F&I Magazine. 15 October 2013. Retrieved 30 July 2014.
  20. ^"Kelley Blue Book Debuts New Car Pricing Tool". Socal Tech. 15 October 2013. Retrieved 30 July 2014.
  21. ^"Kelley adds certification to its used-vehicle listings". Automotive News. June 24, 2002.
  22. ^"KBB Report: Fair Purchase Price Data Shows Vehicle Segments Worth Buying Used". Business Fleet. 19 February 2013.
  23. ^"KBB Rolls Out Range-Based Pricing for Used Values". Auto Remarketing. 20 May 2014.
  24. ^Jonathan Welsh (30 July 2012). "Kelley Blue Book Launches First Consumer TV Ads (Video)". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 30 July 2014.
  25. ^Mackenna Waterhouse (31 July 2012). "Kelley Blue Book launches national television ad campaign". OC Metro. Retrieved 30 July 2014.
  26. ^"2013 Harris Poll EquiTrend Rankings". Harris Interactive. Archived from the original on October 5, 2015. Retrieved September 24, 2013.
  27. ^" Earns Brand of the Year Three Years Running". Yahoo! Finance. 12 June 2014. Retrieved 30 July 2014.
  28. ^Kara Vaporean (October 3, 2012). "Kelley Blue Book wins WebAward for second consecutive year". OC Metro. Retrieved September 24, 2013.

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Black Book Vs Kelly Blue Book

Black Book Vs Kelly Blue Book Trade In Values

Is there a difference between Black Book Vs Kelley Blue Book trade in values? Are you looking to sell your vehicle or trade it in?

Keep reading to find out all about the 2 main sources for USED Car, Truck and other Vehicle pricing.

  • Kelley Blue Book
  • Black Book and more!!!

CAR DEALERS love to quote Blue Book this and Blue Book that, but what does it really mean?

You might hear things like

  • Blue Book Pricing
  • We sell below Blue Book
  • Get Blue Book value for your trade-in



Black Book is what dealers usually refer to when trying to figure out how much a used vehicle or trade in is worth. Black Book originally began in 1955 literally as a black book containing weekly car values for every vehicle and every region in the country. Today Black Book ( is available via the web or mobile through a paid subscription.

Black Book offers various paid subscription options. The main subscription that Dealers use includes trade in values and information on cars and light trucks. These vehicle appraisals help dealers calculate vehicle leases and used car and truck prices.

  • Four wholesale values based on condition: Extra Clean, Clean, Average and Rough
  • History Adjusted Valuations – a more precise way to appraise vehicles. Instantly understand the impact of a vehicle’s history report on its value.
  • Four retail values based on condition: Extra Clean, Clean, Average and Rough
  • Three trade-in values based on condition: Clean, Average and Rough
  • Finance Advance™ value
  • Value adjustments for mileage and optional equipment
  • Value adjustments for region or state
  • Access auction sales data from over 162 auctions with our Complete Market Report (separate subscription required)
  • Over 32,000 used vehicle values for model years 1981- current.
  • Pull up to 1,000 valuations per month.

Black book offers subscriptions in both print and online and also via a mobile application. Mobile subscriptions start around $65 a month or over $700 annually.

If you want to know what the dealers know when buying a used car, the Black Book mobile application is a great tool to use. Because they offer monthly memberships, it will not cost a ton to be really informed.


While Black Book is mostly used by dealers, Kelley Blue Book (Not spelled Kelly Blue Book without the “e”) is mostly used by individuals looking to trade in or sell their vehicles. Since 1926, Kelley Blue Book has been one of the best-known names in the auto industry. Today, or extends the tradition, with trusted values and a reputation for innovation, including resources to help you research, price and shop for the car you’ve been looking for.

One advantage of using Kelly Blue Book is the service is free without monthly subscriptions.

Kelly Blue Book rates its used car evaluations as

Kelley Blue Book breaks it’s pricing guides into 2 main categories which include the KBB New Car Guide and KBB Used Car Guide.


If you are in the market for a new vehicle, the KBB New Car Guide contains pricing information for the current model year including

  • MSRP (Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price)
  • Dealer Costs
  • Extra Costs – includes other various costs (Example shipping costs)
  • Pricing Schedules – includes pricing for various options that buyers can select


If you are in the market for a used vehicle, the KBB Used Car Guide contains pricing information for used vehicles made in the last 15 years. The Used Car Guide offers several different prices:

  • Retail Price – also known as the dealer price or what you could expect to pay at a dealer.
  • Trade-In Price – also known as the dealer trade-in value
  • Private Sale Price – Is the price for selling by owner. The Private Sale Price is almost always lower than the Trade-In Price and is a good estimate of what to expect to pay for or sell a used vehicle from a non-dealer.

The Used Car Guild includes various charts and tables for calculating price based on

  • Vehicle Condition
  • Car Mileage
  • Vehicle Options

If you are looking to buy or sell an older vehicle, motorcycle or RV, that information is published separately and may only be available in guidebooks and not via the KBB website.

Historically Kelley Blue Book gathered vehicle cost data information through vehicle auctions, which often can inflate the price compared to how Black Book calculates their trade in and used vehicle prices.


Beyond both Black Book and Kelly Blue Book, another useful tool for figuring out vehicle price is NADA ( National Appraisal Guides, Inc. is the largest publisher of vehicle pricing, information and tools for new and used cars.


As a rule of thumb Kelley Blue Book values are a pretty good indicator to use when buying vehicle from an individual or when selling a vehicle to an individual. The Blue Book values tend to be a little on the high side when buying used vehicles from a dealership or when trading in a vehicle.

Best advice is to do your homework and don’t go into a buying or selling situation blind.

If you happen to be in the Wyoming or Nebraska neighborhood, check out out Fremont Motors for loads of new and used cars, truck and SUVs.


What Are Black Book Car Values?

Black Book Vehicle Pricing. The Black Book is what dealerships typically use to lookup pricing information about new, used car, truck, and recreational vehicle prices. Black Book updates the Dealer invoice and Manufacturers Suggested Retail Prices (MSRP) weekly. Dealers also use the Black Book loan values for finance purposes.

Black Book publishes weekly publications in print and online is still going strong today.

What Is The Difference Between Black Book and Kelley Blue Book?

As stated above, the Black Book is what dealers usually refer to when trying to figure out how much a used vehicle or trade in is worth. Consumers will typically use Kelley Blue Book values when estimating new and use vehicle costs.

Is Edmunds Or KBB More Accurate?

In realistic terms both Kelley Blue Book (KBB) and Edmunds give an approximation of vehicle value based on various sources. Both the Kelley Blue Book and Black Book are generally used when buying a car from a dealership.

What Is The Value Of My Car In Kelley Blue Book?

The Kelley Blue Book is a good estimation of what a car might sell for and how much it is worth. The price doesn’t include warranties and other options that may increase the a cars value. Ultimately the KBB value is often used as a starting point for negotiation and not the final price.

What Does The Black Book Value Mean?

You can think of the Black Book values as an estimated wholesale value of a vehicle that dealers use to ensure profits when buying or selling used cars. From a consumer standpoint, a dealer will always look to make a profit, so you can expect to pay over the Black Book value when buying used and under the Black Book value when trading in or selling your vehicle to a dealer.

The TRUTH about Kelly Blue Book Values

Are Kelley Blue Book Values Accurate and Reliable?

When buying or selling a used car, many people rely on the Kelley Blue Book (KBB), which has been around since 1926. One sign of its popularity: Roughly 20 million unique visitors per month log on to the Kelley Blue Book website.

Although automotive experts acknowledge that the Kelley Blue Book is one of the most popular and trusted guides in automotive pricing, the question remains: Is it accurate and reliable? Here’s a look at how Kelley determines car pricing, an assessment of some issues consumers might encounter with KBB pricing, and a brief review of some of the top competitors in the industry.

Key Takeaways

  • The Kelley Blue Book—and its equally popular website—is one of the most trusted guides for automobile pricing, used by those who are buying or selling cars.
  • Kelley assesses the following values: private party value, trade-in value, suggested retail value, and certified pre-owned (CPO) value.
  • Kelley determines Blue Book values by analyzing pricing information from real-world used car prices, as well as industry developments, economic conditions, and location.
  • Potential problems with Blue Book values include a delay as price information is assessed, the consumer tendency to overrate the value of the car they are selling or trading in, and a mismatch between wholesale values listed by Kelley and the prices used by dealers, who access special industry-only pricing info.

How Kelley Blue Book Determines Car Values

Kelley Blue Book receives real-world used car prices on a daily basis from wholesale auctions, independent and franchised dealers, rental fleets, auto manufacturers, lessors, and private party transactions.

Kelley’s proprietary algorithm analyzes pricing data along with historical trends, current economic conditions, industry developments, time of year, and location to determine Kelley Blue Book values.

That process results in the following values for used cars:

  • Private-party value refers to how much you will have to pay for a specific used car from a private seller.
  • Trade-in value is the amount you are likely to get from a dealer for a trade-in.
  • Suggested retail value refers to what dealers are typically asking for a specific used car.
  • Certified pre-owned (CPO) value tells us how much cars covered by the CPO program are worth. 

Some Issues With KBB Pricing

Some factors that could affect the accuracy of KBB values are lag time, consumer bias, and mismatched data.

Lag Time

It takes time for data and analysis to make its way through KBB. Prices listed may not always reflect the very latest trends and economic conditions.

Consumer Bias

Most people think the car they are selling or trading in is in better condition than it really is. If you misjudge the condition of a car for trade-in or purchase, your expectations may not match the reality of KBB’s valuation structure.

Mismatched Data 

Most dealers do not use KBB for trade-in (wholesale) values. Instead, many rely on National Auto Research’s Black Book or the Manheim Market Report, neither of which is available to the public. More important, both tend to skew lower than KBB in wholesale pricing.


The year Les Kelley, a Los Angeles car dealer, published the first Kelley Blue Book.

Solutions for Consumers

If you use KBB as a general guide and follow the suggestions below, Kelley Blue Book data can be very useful.

Print out Definitions

If negotiating to buy a used car from a private seller, show KBB’s car condition definitions to the seller, especially if you believe the car is priced too high. 


KBB’s pricing structure tends to favor dealers, meaning listed retail prices can be higher than other guides. Start with the listed retail price and bargain down. 

Ask for Sources 

Be aware that insider guides like Manheim or Black Book tend to show lower wholesale prices than KBB. Ask about the source of the trade-in offer or wholesale price.

Consult Other Guides 

Consult one or more other websites or pricing guides to get an “average” for the vehicle you are trading in, selling, or planning to buy.

Since the three main consumer guides—KBB,, and NADA—use different algorithms, your best bet is to check all three and calculate an average price.

Additional Resources

The following are several sources you can check for pricing and rating information before buying, trading in, or selling a used car.

Edmunds:This website offers an appraisal engine that includes five car condition categories compared with KBB’s four. This can be helpful—or generate confusion—depending on how realistic you are about your car’s condition. Many experts believe Edmunds' values are more accurate than KBB's. That’s not always the case, of course, which is why getting several estimates and averaging still makes the most sense.

NADA Guides: One of the oldest guides, NADA guides were designed for dealer members of the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) trade group. NADA pricing is often higher than Kelley Blue Book since the algorithm has a standard that calls for all trade-ins to be in very clean condition. As a result, you may need to adjust NADA prices down. 

J.D. Power: Although the ratings are only for new cars, the used car search provides dealer pricing based on ZIP code. This information could be valuable if you are planning to sell a car outright and want to know what typical pricing in your area looks like.

Consumer Reports: The well-respected, noncommercial (no advertising accepted) publication offers lots of information if you buy an online subscription, less if you don’t. The website features general pricing on used cars, information on reliability, cars to avoid, and much more.

The Bottom Line

Kelley Blue Book is a very good resource, but it should not be the only one you consult. Although none of the top used car buying guides is perfect, when taken together—along with additional information gained from other websites and tools, such as auto loan calculators—they can provide reasonably reliable and accurate information for your used car transaction.


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Kelly Blue Book gives you everything you need to research a new, CPO or used car, compare cars, find cars for sale and make a well-informed decision. Kelley Blue Book is your guide for Everything Automotive, whether you're just checking your current car's value, actively looking for your next car, or ready to buy. We're also one of most extensive sources for motorcycle values on the internet.

90 Years of Pricing Expertise

Since 1926, Kelley Blue Book has been one of the most trusted names in the auto industry. You might say we literally "wrote the book on car values". And today there's no better place to find the value of your current car than Whether you're trading it in, selling it privately, or taking advantage of the Kelley Blue BookSM Instant Cash Offer, is here for you.

Get your car's value

Expert Reviews

Get the truth, with reviews, videos and more from our in-house editorial staff. Our New Car Buyer's Guides lay out the top cars in every category. If you've got a budget, our experts reveal the best cars under $25,000, plus recommendations for what to look for next.

Read expert reviews

New Car Fair Purchase Price

See what you can expect to pay for a new car based on what others have paid. The Kelley Blue Book® Price Advisor tool takes into account supply and demand, regional variations and more to clearly show what a good deal would be in your area.

Price a new car

Used Car Fair Purchase Price

When buying a used car, it's even more crucial to have a pricing source on your side. After you've considered mileage, condition and options, you'll want to know the Kelley Blue Book Fair Purchase Price and Fair Market Range for Used Cars.

Go to used car pricing


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