About the Kelley Blue Book Value on Used Cars

Auto dealership Kelley guides often show inflated retail prices.

You may be interested in buying a used car because you think new cars are overpriced. Yet the fair prices for used cars can be tough to sort out if you rely on a Kelley Blue Book guide to check car values. Kelley price guides are used throughout the auto industry to cite car values, but consumers need to dig a little deeper to determine reasonable purchase prices for used cars.

Dealer's Guide

There is more than one Kelley Blue Book price guide for used cars. Edmunds, an auto-information publisher, notes that auto dealers are likely to use the "Kelley Blue Book Auto Market Report — Official Guide." Used-car shoppers should be on the lookout for that guide because it's the one dealers show shoppers to compare vehicle prices. An Edmunds article titled "What is the Kelley Blue Book Price?" says one problem is that shoppers are usually shown the retail price for a used car in the dealer's copy of the Kelley guide. Retail prices are typically much higher than what people are actually paying for used cars.

Retail Price

The retail prices shown in a salesperson's Kelley Blue Book are just estimates on dealers' prices. Edmunds notes that the Kelley guide says the prices listed in the book are only suggested retail prices and that the selling prices may vary substantially. Ultimately, a dealer may show you an inflated retail price in the Kelley guide to make his lower price on a used car look like a bargain.

Selling Price

You can put yourself in a better position to negotiate a fair price with a dealer if you estimate the selling price for a used car you're interested in buying before you go shopping. Several websites offer estimated car values online, which include the Edmunds True Market Values. According to Edmunds, its values are the estimated average selling prices for used cars that shoppers need to know to negotiate fair prices. The company's True Market Values online tool also allows users to enter their zip codes to get estimates on selling prices in their area.


A dealer may resist your efforts to negotiate a lower price on a used car by showing you the Kelley Blue Book values in his guide. You can bolster your bargaining position by telling the dealer that you know Kelley lists retail prices in the guide and not the actual selling prices. You should have a fair price in mind that you're willing to pay for a used car if you've done advance research on selling prices. You also should determine beforehand how far beyond that price you're willing to go to avoid letting a dealer talk you into a purchase that busts your budget.

references & resources