That process results in the following values for used cars:
- Private-party value refers to how much you would pay for a specific used car from a private seller.
- The trade-in value is the amount you are likely to receive from the dealer for the trade-in.
- Suggested retail price refers to what dealers are typically asking for a specific used car.
- The Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) value tells us how much the cars covered under the CPO program are worth.
- Some Issues With KBB Pricing
- Some factors that can affect the accuracy of KBB values are lag time, consumer bias and mismatched data.
It takes time for data and analysis to make its way through the KBB. Listed prices may not always reflect the latest trends and economic conditions.
Most people think that the car they are selling or trading in is in better condition than it actually is. If you misinterpret the condition of the car for trade-in or purchase, your expectations may not match the reality of KBB’s valuation structure.
Most dealers do not use KBB for trade-in (wholesale) prices. Instead, many rely on National Auto Research’s Black Book or the Mannheim Market Report, neither of which are available to the public. More important, both are lower than KBB in wholesale pricing.
Solutions for Consumers
If you use the KBB as a general guide and follow the suggestions below, Kelley Blue Book data can be very useful.
If you are negotiating to buy a used car from a private seller, show the seller KBB’s definitions of the condition of the car, especially if you think the car is overpriced.
KBB’s pricing structure favors dealers, which means listed retail prices may be higher than other guides. Start at the listed retail price and find a deal below.
Ask for Sources
Keep in mind that insider guides like Mannheim or Black Book show lower wholesale prices than KBB. Ask about trade-in offers or a source for wholesale prices.
Consult Other Guides
Consult one or more other websites or pricing guides to get an “average” for a vehicle you are trading, selling, or planning to buy.