What Is The Blue Book Value Of My Car? A How-To Guide

Whether selling or buying a new or used vehicle, Blue Book Car Value will help you estimate any vehicle's worth in the current market or its old value. Kelley Blue Book, also known as KBB, is a vehicle sales website with a history that dates back to the 1920s.

When it got founded, Kelley Blue Book published a physical blue book that included the current price and value of each car on the market. Today, prospective buyers, sellers, and car owners can utilize the Kelley Blue Book website at kbb.com to receive the standard value of a vehicle.

What is the Kelley Blue Book (KBB) Value of a Car?

The Kelley Blue Book (KBB) Value of a car is an independent market standard for car value estimate or old car value. Valuators for Kelley Blue Book list Blue Book Values for both new and old cars and update vehicle values yearly. Each annual valuation includes three values: trade-in value, private party value, certified pre-owned vehicle (CPO) value, and retail value.

Kelley Blue Book provides buyers, sellers, and car dealerships with a calculator that will determine the old car value of any vehicle, including trucks, cars, snowmobiles, boats, and motorcycles.

When purchasing a vehicle, the vehicle manufacturer determines the manufacturer's suggested retail price or MSRP. However, a dealership or seller may list the car for higher or lower than the MSRP, depending on current market conditions.

In addition, KBB provides the Kelley Blue Book Fair Purchase Price. Based on recent sales data, this value is an approximated amount that other buyers will pay for a particular vehicle, including car dealerships.

Types of KBB Values

Potential used car Blue Book Values can include:

  • Trade-In Value
  • Private Party Value
  • Retail Value

Trade-In Value

Kelley Blue Book (KBB) provides the estimated trade-in value of your vehicle. The trade-in value is the amount valuation predict you will qualify to receive from a dealership in fair trade. To check the trade-in value of your car, you can either visit kbb.com to find the value of similar vehicles on the market or ask to have the current Kelley Blue Book Values sent to you. It is a good idea to gather as much research and data on your vehicle or the vehicle you would like to purchase as possible to help ensure that you have an accurate estimate.

Other websites that can be valuable resources for determining an estimated trade-in value include

  • Black Book
  • Edmunds
  • Auto Trader
  • National Appraisal Guides (NADA)

Private Party Value

KBB also provides a private party value estimation. This value gets calculated to predict what you would pay when purchasing a vehicle from a third party or a private individual.

Retail Value

The retail value of your vehicle is the estimated price you would pay to a dealership to purchase a specific vehicle. Retail vehicles may include SUVs, motorcycles, trucks, or snowmobiles.

How is the Kelley Blue Book Value Established?

The Kelley Blue Book Value is determined by analyzing large quantities of data and considering aspects such as car buying, transactions, geographic regions, current local market value, and time of year. Keep reading to learn more about how the Kelley Blue Book Value gets established and how these influences impact your valuation and overall car worth.

  • Wholesale Auctions
  • Independent/Franchised Dealers
  • Rental and Fleet
  • Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs)
  • Financial Institution Lessors
  • Transactions

Wholesale Auctions

Sales or trades at vehicle auctions impact the Kelley Blue Book Value. Wholesale auctions allow buyers to purchase vehicles at a fraction of their typical cost. At wholesale auctions, Kelley Blue Book auditors will monitor sales and trades to generate the highest estimated actual cash value of a used vehicle. Fleet owners, dealers, rental agencies, financial institutions, and manufacturers sell cars at wholesale auctions.

Kelley Blue Book created the Manheim Used Vehicle Index specifically to keep track of the prices to purchase cars at vehicle auctions. Depending on the season and current market value, the same car may sell at an auction for a different price than the next, with varying market conditions at another point.

Independent/Franchised Dealers

Independent and franchised dealers and the cost of purchasing vehicles from both dramatically impacts the value of vehicles on the market. Franchised dealerships sell cars for a specific vehicle manufacturer, whereas independent dealers are contracted with multiple manufacturers to sell vehicles.

A Honda dealership would be an example of a franchised dealership. A dealership that sells BMWs, Cadillacs, and Volkswagens would be an example of an independent dealer because they sell cars from more than one single manufacturer.

For franchised dealers, vehicle selling prices will impact the Kelley Blue Book Value of that manufacturer. Independent dealers will affect the value of cars from multiple manufacturers.

Rental and Fleet

Rental fleets are vehicles that are available for rent, with or without accompanying drivers. Businesses will typically pay to rent a fleet of rental cars for a limited time. After the rental period ends, rental fleets will go to auction. Although the rental period traditionally lasts approximately one year, this period is now more extended than before.

Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs)

Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) include large-scale, brand-name manufacturers such as Ford, Honda, and Toyota. After OEMs have used promotional vehicles, employee cars, and vehicles utilized for distribution throughout the company, these cars will go to auction.

Financial Institution Lessors

Financial institution lessors, or banks, are typically the owners of vehicles and lease them for a temporary amount of time. Once a lease has ended, the car will usually either be sold back to the lessor or auctioned. In addition, when vehicles get repossessed, they will most likely be sold or put up for auction by financial institutions.


When sales and purchases go through, Kelley Blue Book auditors use the resulting data from these transactions to determine car valuations and pricing. Kelley Blue Book monitors consumer transactions to determine the fair market range, or the range of prices that KBB anticipates consumers spending to purchase vehicles from particular makes, models, styles, and years.

How Are Final Values Determined?

Final vehicle values get determined by compiling data from various factors, including present economic conditions, developments within the auto industry, historical tendencies, location, and the current time of year.

The options for used car book values that are available include private party values, trade-in values, suggested retail values, and certified pre-owned values (CPOs). Certified pre-owned values are the estimated amount of the cost of a dealer's used car. CPOs provide a reference price for determining the amount to begin negotiation between a dealer and a consumer. It is an industry-standard that the Kelley Blue Book Value can serve as a jumping-off point for buyers and sellers to begin negotiating.

What is a Fair Purchase Price?

A vehicle's fair purchase price is the actual selling price, determined from tens of thousands of transactions each year. Both new vehicle sales and marketplace data contribute to the reasonable purchase price of a particular vehicle.

How Can You Find the Blue Book Value of Your Car?

When looking for an exact price point for a vehicle you may be interested in buying or selling, you should turn to vehicle data and analytics websites such as Kelley Blue Book, Edmunds, or J.D. Power to determine a vehicle's Blue Book Value. These sites will allow you to receive a real-time estimate of your vehicle's or prospective vehicle's value before you list it for sale or begin the purchase process.

Whether you are purchasing a used or new car, the Blue Book Value will help you determine how much you should expect to pay for a vehicle and can help you negotiate. To determine the value of a car you wish to purchase, both Kelley Blue Book and Edmunds provide prospective buyers with a used car fair purchase price. This quantity will represent the price a consumer will likely receive when purchasing a used vehicle.

If you are looking to sell your current vehicle, determining the Blue Book Price of your car will help you find a starting point for what approximate price you should list.

To determine your used car's pricing information and value, Kelley Blue Book will provide a general condition rating of your vehicle, ranging from "Fair," "good," "very good," and "excellent." However, only approximately 3% of used vehicles for sale qualify for an "excellent" quality rating, according to Kelley Blue Book.

What Does the Car Market Look Like Today?

Currently, car shoppers are facing unpredictability and high prices in the car market. A worldwide microchip shortage and supply chain issues have resulted in lower supply than there is demand, with delays in production and transportation. Prospective buyers also face less accessibility, as manufacturers prioritize highly-priced vehicles to stay afloat.

However, we should note that price markups vary greatly depending on the dealership and manufacturer. For instance, brands such as Honda, Hyundai, and Kia charge an estimated 5% to 8% more than the manufacturer's suggested retail price (MSRP). In contrast, Volvo, Ram, Buick, and Lincoln dealers only charge approximately 1% over the MSRP for vehicles.

Specific car styles are also selling at unpredictable rates, which causes the ebb and flow within the car market. SUVs sell for an estimated $3,000 above the MSRP, whereas crossovers sell for only $965 above the MSRP.

Currently, used cars are selling at lower prices, making it a great time to purchase a used car. When selling your used vehicle, it is a good idea to research many different routes, whether you go through a dealership or sell to a private buyer.

Bottom Line

Now more than ever, investigating the Blue Book Car Value of your current or prospective vehicle is the best way to ensure you receive the best deal. We also recommend that you search in a wider geographic area, which may mean enlisting the help of a vehicle shipping service.

Once you have purchased a new or used car or sold your previously-owned used vehicle, it is time to transport it. A transportation provider with car-hauling services, such as Carvaygo, will ensure that your car makes it from point A to point B with simplified, reliable, and transparent service. Our intuitive user interface and readily-available customer service will help you every step of the way — from pickup to delivery.

Are you interested in finding the Blue Book Value of your vehicle? Visit our website today.

Blue Book Car Value Calculator: Calculate Your Used Car Value | Nexus
Kelley Blue Book Value For Used Cars — What Is It And How Does It Work? | Edmunds
What Is The Difference Between A Franchise Dealership And An Independent Dealership? | Chron
What Are Kelley Blue Book Values? | Kelley Blue Book
Is Now The Time To Buy, Sell Or Trade-In A Car? | Kelley Blue Book

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