What is Kelley Blue Book?

Kelley Blue Book is an independent vehicle valuation service that has been assisting car buyers since 1926. Thanks to a partnership with Kelley Blue Book, official Blue Book™ values are available on cars.com.

Kelley Blue Book valuations are a great starting point when determining what a used car is worth. Keep in mind that a vehicle's condition, mileage, options and relative popularity in your area can all affect its actual selling price. Also remember that prices will vary based on the type of transaction that takes place -- retail (from a dealer), private party or trade-in.

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Types of Values

Trade-In Value
The Trade-in value represents what you might expect to receive from a dealer for a consumer-owned vehicle. Keep in mind that the dealer must absorb the costs of making the vehicle ready for sale, so trade-in values are almost always lower than retail or private party values.

Retail Value
The Kelley Blue Book Suggested Retail value represents the amount an auto dealer might ask for a specific vehicle. The Suggested Retail value is a starting point for negotiation; therefore, the actual sale price will vary. A vehicle's popularity, condition, warranty, color and local market conditions are factors involved in determining a final price. This retail value is not a trade-in or private party value.

The Suggested Retail value assumes that the vehicle has been fully reconditioned and has a clean title history. The Suggested Retail value also allows for advertising, sales commissions, insurance and other costs of doing business as a dealer. Most vehicles offered at this price have passed an inspection, and some may carry a warranty.

Private Party Value
Private Party value represents what you might expect to pay for a used car when you purchase it from a private party. It may also represent the value you might expect to receive when you sell your own used car to another private party.

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Vehicle Condition Descriptions

"Excellent" condition means that the vehicle looks great, is in excellent mechanical condition and needs no reconditioning. It should pass a smog inspection. The engine compartment should be clean, with no fluid leaks. The paint is glossy and the body and interior are free of any wear or visible defects. There is no rust. The tires are the proper size and match and are new or nearly new. A clean title history is assumed. This is an exceptional vehicle.

"Good" condition means that the vehicle is free of any major defects. The paint, body and interior have only minor (if any) blemishes, and there are no major mechanical problems. In states where rust is a problem, this should be very minimal, and a deduction should be made to correct it. The tires match and have substantial tread wear left. A clean title history is assumed. A "good" vehicle will need some reconditioning to be sold at full retail price; however, any major reconditioning costs should be deducted from the value. Most recent-model cars owned by consumers fall into this category.

"Fair" condition means the vehicle probably has some mechanical or cosmetic defects but is still in safe running condition. The paint, body and/or interior require the work of a professional. The tires need to be replaced. There may be some repairable rust damage. The actual value of cars in this category may vary widely. A clean title history is assumed. Even after significant reconditioning this vehicle may not qualify for the Kelley Blue Book suggested retail value.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Why am I required to enter a ZIP code? Entering a ZIP code allows us to return values that reflect pricing for your geographical region.

What about equipment on my car for which no check box is provided? In most cases, we include only the equipment that has an impact on the vehicle's value. Also, there are a few options -- such as alarm systems, heated seats and trip computers -- that are never shown. On certain models, these items don't occur with enough frequency in the marketplace to calculate an applicable value. That's not to say that such options are worthless because they may make your vehicle more marketable against similar models.

Why do you show a luggage rack as optional equipment on my van but not the ski rack that I installed myself? Only items that are factory installed or "factory quality" are valued. There are simply too many aftermarket items to identify all of them.

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