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Using KBB To Save Money Car Shopping

Using KBB To Save Money Car Shopping

For over 90 years, Kelley Blue Book has been one of the most trusted and recognized names in the automotive industry. Originally published as an actual blue-colored book used by dealerships in the 1920s, the Kelley Blue Book has evolved into a popular website and app that provides consumers and businesses with pricing information and vehicle valuations for new and used cars.

Kelley Blue Book, often referred to simply as “KBB”, aims to empower both buyers and sellers by giving them access to pricing data based on comprehensive market research and analysis. By determining fair purchase prices, trade-in values, market trends and more, Kelley Blue Book became an indispensable tool for enabling negotiations and transactions in the automotive market.

This guide will provide an in-depth look at how Kelley Blue Book works, the factors that determine its vehicle values, and how both consumers and businesses utilize KBB data to make informed decisions when buying or selling cars.

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What is Kelley Blue Book?

Kelley Blue Book (KBB) is an automotive research and vehicle valuation company that provides pricing and valuation information for new and used vehicles. For over 90 years, Kelley Blue Book has been a trusted source that empowers car buyers and sellers to make informed decisions and get fair prices based on accurate market data.

Known for its signature blue cover trade manuals beginning in 1926, today Kelley Blue Book provides its pricing expertise through and various consumer products. Now owned by Cox Automotive, Kelley Blue Book works closely with its sister companies like, and vAuto to provide connected services across the automotive shopping journey.

Kelley Blue Book has evolved from printed guide books to online databases and valuations, but its core mission remains the same – to provide trustworthy market-based values to both consumers and the automotive industry. The company analyzes millions of used car transactions to deliver pricing and information on virtually every make and model available in the U.S. and Canada.


Kelley Blue Book History

Kelley Blue Book has a long and storied history in the automotive industry. The company traces its origins back to 1926, when Les Kelley, a car dealer in California, published the first Blue Book. This book was a written guide that provided vehicle valuation information to help car dealers determine accurate and fair pricing for new cars. It established a trusted baseline that facilitated negotiations during the car buying process.

In the early days, the Blue Book was an actual blue-colored book that was printed and distributed on a regular basis. Kelley continued expanding the book with used car pricing in the 1930s. This gave dealers guidelines on trade-in values and private party sales. By 1962, the Kelley Blue Book officially included pricing information for used vehicles across all makes and models.

Kelley Blue Book really went mainstream when it launched in 1995. This allowed consumers direct access to the vehicle valuation data that had previously only been available to auto dealers. Now buyers could look up pricing information themselves to help guide negotiations. The website and brand recognition from the Blue Book established Kelley Blue Book as an authority in the world of car prices.


How Does Kelley Blue Book Work?

Kelley Blue Book has access to millions of data points on vehicle sales transactions from a variety of sources. The KBB research team analyzes sales data from auctions, dealerships, private sellers, auto manufacturers, and more. By aggregating this comprehensive sales data, they can identify trends and patterns in actual selling prices.

Kelley Blue Book has developed proprietary algorithms over decades which process all this sales data to determine accurate and up-to-date vehicle values. The algorithms account for many factors that impact pricing – not just basics like make, model and mileage, but also more granular details like trim packages, options, condition, accident history, location, and market trends.

By continuously ingesting the latest sales transaction data and running it through their pricing models, Kelley Blue Book is able to provide consumers with fair market values and price ranges for tens of thousands of used vehicle configurations. The values are frequently updated to reflect changing market conditions across different regions.


Factors in Kelley Blue Book Values

Kelley Blue Book analyzes millions of data points on vehicle sales transactions to determine accurate pricing information. The proprietary algorithms take into account the following key factors:


  • Sales of similar vehicles at auctions, independent and franchised dealerships, rental fleets, and private party sales
  • Location – Values are adjusted based on regional demand and local market conditions
  • Mileage – Vehicles with lower mileage typically command higher values
  • Overall condition – Options like accident history and reconditioning needs affect value
  • Factory options and packages – Additional equipment, upgrades, and configurations impact pricing


By incorporating millions of transactions along with location specifics, mileage, condition reports, and equipment, Kelley Blue Book is able to provide highly accurate valuations for over 40,000 vehicle configurations. The proprietary data and algorithms are frequently updated to account for changing market trends.


KBB Values for Buyers

Kelley Blue Book can provide invaluable assistance to car shoppers by establishing fair baseline prices for vehicles they may be interested in purchasing. Having the KBB value information empowers buyers to assess whether a used car listing from a private seller or at a dealership represents a good deal and fair market price.

Specifically, buyers can compare the advertised price for a given used vehicle against the KBB valuation for that make, model, year and mileage to determine if it is priced competitively. This helps shoppers avoid overpaying and negotiate from a more informed perspective during discussions with sellers.

In addition to listing prices, having the Kelley Blue Book trade-in value estimate for your current vehicle gives you important data to negotiate its worth during discussions with dealers as part of the overall transaction. You can feel confident you are getting a fair trade-in offer instead of leaving money on the table.

Beyond pricing, Kelley Blue Book also provides buyers with helpful information like fuel economy ratings, reliability scores, expert reviews and more. This allows car shoppers to research the specs and details that matter most when evaluating vehicles to purchase. You can customize your research on to focus on the specific makes, models, years and features you are interested in.


Research Tools for Car Buyers

Kelley Blue Book offers a wealth of research tools for car buyers to make an informed decision. You can customize your research based on the specific makes and models you are interested in purchasing. KBB allows you to compare different vehicles across a variety of factors like pricing, fuel economy, performance, seating capacity, safety ratings, and reliability.

The site provides expert reviews from their experienced automotive editors for most models. These reviews offer insights that go beyond specifications – they highlight real-world performance, comfort, tech features, and other details shoppers care about. Reviews are based on actual test drives and assessments, not just specs on paper. KBB’s editors focus on the key factors most important to consumers and provide advice and ratings to simplify the research process.

You can also find side-by-side comparisons of similar models to weigh the pros and cons of competitive vehicles. This makes it easy to analyze which option best fits your needs and preferences. Kelley Blue Book aims to provide all the tools and information necessary to make consumers feel confident in their next car purchase.


KBB Values for Sellers

Kelley Blue Book provides valuable pricing data for those looking to sell their vehicle as well. With access to up-to-date fair market values, sellers can accurately price their vehicles to maximize their selling price.

KBB allows sellers to compare trade-in offers from local dealers to estimated private party sale prices. Dealers often offer less for a trade-in, as they need to make a profit reselling the vehicle. However, trading in can be more convenient than a private sale.

With KBB, sellers can enter their vehicle details to get an instant appraisal value. This gives them a solid baseline to negotiate with dealers making trade-in offers. It also helps price the vehicle competitively if choosing to sell privately instead.

Accurately pricing your vehicle based on real market data is crucial to getting top dollar. KBB empowers sellers with the pricing knowledge and data they need to maximize their sale price.


Listing on

In addition to providing vehicle values and research tools, Kelley Blue Book also gives sellers the option to list their vehicles for sale directly on This can be an effective sales channel, as it taps into the large audience of car shoppers already using the site to search for their next vehicle.

When listing on, your vehicle will be marketed alongside major third-party sites like,, and CarGurus. This gives great exposure, since KBB has high traffic and name recognition in the car shopping space. There are also potential buyers that specifically focus their searches on because they trust the pricing information and vehicle history reports available.

The process to get your car listed is straightforward. You enter details like make, model, year, mileage, and condition. Kelley Blue Book will provide a recommended asking price range based on their analysis. You can then choose to list at, above, or below that estimated value. Photos and a full description also help attract interested buyers.

Overall, listing a car for sale on taps into a huge audience of engaged shoppers and leverages the trusted Kelley Blue Book brand. For sellers looking to maximize visibility and get fair market value, it’s a listing site worth considering.


Kelley Blue Book vs. Black Book

Kelley Blue Book and Black Book are two major vehicle valuation guides that are frequently compared. While both provide estimated values for used cars, Kelley Blue Book tends to be more consumer-facing, while the Black Book is primarily used by automotive professionals.

The key differences between Kelley Blue Book (KBB) and Black Book are:


  • Black Book values are aimed at dealers and wholesale auctions to facilitate bidding on used vehicle inventory. KBB provides values for both trade-in and private party sales to help everyday car buyers.
  • KBB has been publishing their blue book since 1926, while the first Black Book was introduced in 1955. Both have long histories in the auto industry.
  • Black Book updates values on a weekly basis based on wholesale auction data. KBB values are updated monthly using a broader range of data sources beyond auctions.
  • KBB offers values, reviews, comparison tools, and resources to empower consumers with pricing knowledge before visiting a dealer. Black Book is more of an industry handbook.
  • The Black Book provides valuations for loan, lease, and fleet vehicles in addition to retail values. KBB focuses solely on consumer vehicle values.
  • KBB has a popular consumer-facing website for obtaining free valuations. The Black Book is primarily available via paid subscription services.


In summary, Kelley Blue Book caters to everyday car buyers and sellers, while the Black Book serves automotive professionals and dealerships operating at auction and wholesale levels. KBB aims to be an approachable resource for consumers navigating the vehicle marketplace.


Kelley Blue Book vs. NADA Guides

In addition to Kelley Blue Book, the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) Guides are another trusted source for vehicle valuation information in North America. NADA publishes updated guides monthly for new cars, used cars, light trucks, powersports vehicles and more. While both KBB and NADA are respected providers of vehicle values, there are some key differences between them.

Kelley Blue Book arguably has broader brand recognition among everyday car buyers and sellers. The term “Blue Book Value” is often used synonymously with KBB, whereas NADA Guides have more traction primarily among auto dealers and industry insiders. For consumers looking to buy or sell a used car, KBB tends to be the go-to resource for initial pricing research.

However, NADA Guides offer some advantages as well. They utilize localized market data down to the zip code level, which can provide valuations tailored to more specific regions. NADA also updates values on a monthly basis, while KBB refreshes pricing weekly. For dealers and commercial buyers/sellers, the frequency of NADA Guides may offer advantages.

Ultimately, both KBB and NADA Guides aim to provide accurate and trusted vehicle valuations to aid negotiations. Checking both sources can give car buyers and sellers valuable perspective to make informed pricing decisions. While KBB may have the edge in consumer familiarity, utilizing NADA Guides in tandem provides an extra layer of insight.


Criticisms of Kelley Blue Book

While Kelley Blue Book is a widely used and trusted source for vehicle valuations, it has faced some criticism over the years:


Values Not Always Reflective of Local Markets

Some have argued that KBB values do not always accurately reflect the actual market prices in certain local areas. For example, vehicle values can vary greatly between different cities, even within the same region. KBB provides baseline pricing information, but local supply and demand factors may result in dealers listing vehicles above or below KBB valuations.


Reliant on Self-Reported Data

To determine its vehicle values, Kelley Blue Book relies heavily on self-reported data from various sources. This includes information provided by dealerships, wholesalers, and individual sellers. There is a risk that some parties may not fully disclose issues or provide accurate details on vehicle condition, mileage, features, etc. This could skew the data and result in inflated valuations.


Alternatives to KBB

While Kelley Blue Book is a trusted and popular source for vehicle values, there are some alternative options that provide similar pricing information and valuation tools:



Edmunds offers used car appraisal tools to get an instant cash offer or determine private party and trade-in values. Edmunds gathers market data on actual vehicle transactions to formulate accurate pricing information. They also provide editorial reviews, detailed specs, dealer reviews, and tools to compare and configure vehicles.



CARFAX is best known for its vehicle history reports, but also offers a used car valuation tool. By inputting the VIN, you can see the CARFAX Price Calculator valuation based on similar vehicles for sale and sold in your area. CARFAX compiles listing data from over 40,000 dealerships and millions of sales transactions.



AutoTrader provides a Used Car Valuation tool to determine market-based pricing on vehicles. By entering details like make, model, trim, mileage, and options, you can see trade-in, private party, and dealer retail values based on analysis of millions of data points. AutoTrader also has a large vehicle listings database.



For over 90 years, Kelley Blue Book has been the trusted standard for vehicle pricing and valuations in the automotive industry. Since its beginnings in 1926 as a printed guide for car dealers, KBB has evolved into the leading provider of pricing information for both consumers and professionals in the used car market.

By leveraging proprietary data and complex algorithms, Kelley Blue Book empowers buyers and sellers with the knowledge and insights they need to make informed decisions and get fair prices. With over 40,000 vehicle configurations covered, KBB offers the most reliable benchmark for negotiations and transactions.

In today’s market, having access to accurate and up-to-date vehicle values is more important than ever before. Kelley Blue Book has stood the test of time as the go-to resource for buyers and sellers alike. With tools for both trade-in and private party transactions, KBB levels the playing field so that everyone can feel confident they are getting a good deal.

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Questions About Kelly Blue Book

Kelley Blue Book is an automotive valuation and research company that provides used car values, new car prices, expert and consumer vehicle reviews, and vehicle specifications. Although KBB originated in the United States, it has expanded to provide car values and research for the Canadian market as well. KBB offers Canadian used car values, new car prices, reviews, specs, and tools to help Canadians buy and sell cars.

KBB determines used car values in Canada by analyzing actual sales data for vehicles sold by dealerships and auctions across the country. They look at the make, model, year, mileage, condition, options and trim level of vehicles to determine pricing. Regional factors like demand and supply are also considered. Their algorithm combines this market data to provide an accurate range of pricing for used vehicles.

KBB provides several types of used car values for Canada including trade-in value, private party value, certified used car value and suggested retail value. Trade-in value is what you can expect to get for your car when trading it in to a dealership. Private party value is the estimated selling price when selling to another individual. Certified used car value applies to manufacturer certified pre-owned vehicles. Suggested retail is what you can expect to pay when buying a used car from a dealership.

Yes. KBB offers new car prices, MSRP details and invoice pricing on current model year vehicles and provides pricing trends and forecasts for the upcoming model year. Canadians can see what others paid for the new car they want and use KBB’s pricing information to negotiate the best possible deal.

Major factors that impact used car values in Canada include the vehicle’s make, model and trim level, mileage, age and condition, accident history, number of owners, service records and whether it has a clean title. Additionally, options like engine size, features, color and demand for specific vehicles in certain regions affect Canadian used car pricing. Supply and demand economics also play a key role.

You can get the KBB value for your used car by entering its specifics like make, model, year, trim package, mileage, condition, options and location into the KBB Canada used car appraisal tool online. This will provide you with a value range for trade-in, private party and retail sales based on real sales data in the Canadian market.

The KBB private party value is an estimated selling price guide for a used vehicle when sold person-to-person. This value is typically higher than trade-in value since it costs more for an individual to purchase at retail pricing. If you have the time and ability to market and sell your car to another individual rather than trading it in, you may be able to get closer to the private party value.

No. The KBB value is a helpful guide based on market analysis, but it does not definitively determine the value. Factors like location, demand, condition, maintenance records and options can impact value. Negotiation between buyer and seller will ultimately determine agreed upon pricing, which may be above or below KBB values.

The KBB retail value provides a guide to the estimated dealer retail asking price for a used vehicle. This pricing gives you leverage to negotiate and aim for a lower price since most buyers pay below retail value. Set your initial offer around the KBB trade-in value for a good starting point. The final negotiated price will likely fall somewhere between trade-in and retail.

KBB and Canadian Black Book both use market data to provide estimated used vehicle values and price ranges. Both guides are generally accurate and reliable. On average KBB tends to skew slightly higher than Black Book, especially on more common models. Black Book values older model years longer. Comparing values from both sources is wise when negotiating used car transactions.

Yes. KBB offers motorcycle values, ATV values, snowmobile values and personalized watercraft values for the Canadian market. Canadians can get pricing estimates for both new and used motorcycles from major brands like Honda, Yamaha, Kawasaki, Suzuki, Harley-Davidson and more based on real sales data to assist negotiations.

To get the most money when trading in your used car to a dealership using KBB values, follow these steps:


  1. Research trade-in, private party and retail values on KBB to see pricing range
  2. Get quotes from multiple dealers to compare offers
  3. Negotiate using highest applicable KBB value as leverage
  4. Time trade carefully when your vehicle type is in high demand
  5. Trade only after securing best offer exceeding average KBB trade number


To get the most accurate used car appraisal using KBB Canada, have these key details ready:


– Make & model

– Year

– Trim package

– Mileage


– Condition rating

– Accident history

– Number of owners

– Service records

– Options like engine, transmission, packages, etc.

KBB says they update used vehicle values weekly based on the latest transactions and market data. New car prices get updated on a daily basis as manufacturers and dealers change incentives, rebates and inventory levels. This means KBB Canada’s car values reflect the most current average selling prices.

The adjusted KBB value is a modified car appraisal value based on your specific vehicle’s condition, service history and options. If your vehicle is in better or worse condition than average, has more or less miles than typical or additional options, the adjusted KBB value provides a more tailored estimate versus just the standard valuation.

The KBB fair purchase price for a used vehicle is formulated to provide consumers with a great deal. Fair means giving both buyer and seller an equitable price. While you still want to negotiate down from fair purchase, paying around this price means the transaction is reasonably good value for both parties based on actual selling prices.

If a Canadian dealer offers less than the low end of the KBB value range when trading in your used car, politely question why it’s lower or if they can increase within the KBB estimate. Be ready to negotiate by pointing out vehicle attributes that support the higher amount. Get quotes from other dealers and be willing to walk away unless they raise trade offer.

Follow these tips when buying or selling a used car in Canada to get the best pricing using Kelley Blue Book values:


– Price realistically around middle of KBB range

– Get quotes from multiple dealers to compare

– Negotiate with printed KBB values as leverage

– Be willing to walk away if price talks stall

– Carefully time transactions around high demand seasons

– Consider a private sale if you can get close to higher KBB private party value

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