What Is the Kelley Blue Book and How Do I Use It?

The Kelley Blue Book has been an essential tool for used car buyers since the 1920s. It all began when Les Kelley, a young car salesman in Los Angeles, compiled a list of cars he wished to buy and the prices he was willing to pay. His list quickly became the trusted source of value information for local banks and dealerships. Mr. Kelley realized that he was on to something, and published the first Blue Book of Motor Car Values in 1926.

Today, the Blue Book has blossomed into the industry’s go-to source for accurate value estimates and trusted quality insight. If you’re shopping around for a used car, the Kelley Blue Book will be your best tool for negotiating the right deal for you.

Retail Value vs. Selling Price

One of the most important things to know about the car you’re considering is the difference between the retail asking price and the car’s actual worth. Dealers will often claim that their price is lower than the Blue Book value in order to encourage buyers, but this claim can be misleading.

[sc:TextAds300x250FloatLeft]The Blue Book price they quote is often the highest retail value, regardless of the actual condition of car in question. If you consult the Blue Book yourself, you’ll find various suggested prices depending on the conditions of the sale and the condition of the vehicle. For example, according to the Kelley Blue Book online, less than 5% of all used cars are considered “excellent” and worth the top Kelley Blue Book price. Comparing the Blue Book’s listed values with the actual condition of the car can help you determine a fair estimate and face negotiations with confidence.

Essential Expert Insight

The Blue Book also offers access to an extensive library of research materials. If you’re still looking for the right model, you can consult the collection of expert and consumer ratings and reviews. Real owners will give you an idea of the lifespan and repairs you can expect from each vehicle. Once you find one you like, the Blue Book website can specify value estimates to your area and calculate the value of your trade-in, so you know exactly what to expect when you walk into your local dealership.

The Kelley Blue Book is just one more tool you can use to make the best used car decision. Even if you’re new to the used car market, you can still make a good decision with tools like the Kelley Blue Book. Check out our below Kelley Blue Book deals!

5 thoughts on “What Is the Kelley Blue Book and How Do I Use It?

  1. Sean Roche

    I dissagree, I think KBB has fallen to the bottom. With, NADA and Black Book growing in Brand name recognition KBB has become the least accurate of the major vehicle value web sites. Also KBB is SOOO dominated with advertisements its real value is lost in the confusion of there over populated webpages. If you do find a KBB value with out being re-directed to a local New Car dealer the number is about 60 days old and does not reflect the current market conditions or prices. I feel Edmunds is more realistic and NADA is more accurate as far as what a vehicle is really worth. I do like KBBs descriptions of vehicle condition though. Just wish they spent more time on providing valuable information and not advertisements.

  2. Kevin OConnor

    All the sources mentioned are OK for a very rough idea of the market value of a particular model but there is a lot more involved in determining an appropriate price for a car, whether you are buying or selling. Check out for an alternate opinion.

  3. Marcus013

    The price of gasoline seems as unpredictable as the weather. It goes up, it goes down, and it often changes with the seasons. Just as rain can boost umbrella sales, gas price spikes can drive many consumers to look for models that can stretch a gallon further than their old ride.


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