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Blue Book Truck Pricing Guide

By: Jack NeradPublished November 3, 2021

Kelley Blue Book claims that no entity has more experience with vehicle values and pricing than it does; and they could very well be right. Kelley Blue Book has been publishing guides to used vehicle values since 1926. It owns the copyright to Kelley Blue Book and “blue book value,” based on its long history as a third-party data provider. The service leverages massive amounts of sales and pricing data, including actual retail transactions, and then it adjusts the values to reflect local market conditions and seasonal trends.

Kelley Blue Book values are derived from both retail and wholesale transactions leavened with the brand’s multi-generational expertise at vehicle valuation. Pricing is updated at least weekly to reflect the market and give dealers and consumers the most up-to-date pricing.

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It’s very likely that you have heard of consumer research firm J.D. Power. The international company is a leader in providing vehicle data and information to both consumers and businesses. Its customers for this data include the nation's leading banks, credit unions, fleet and lease organizations, auto dealers, insurance companies, and government agencies. What you might not realize is the J.D. Power owns and operates NADAGuides.com, a strong competitor to Kelley Blue Book in providing accurate vehicle valuation data. 

Through the NADAGuides brand, J.D.Power delivers accurate and reliable truck values and insights through a variety of products offered online. In addition to trucks, NADAGuides offers third-party values for late-model used passenger cars, motorcycles, RVs, classic cars, boats, and manufactured homes. The values result from J.D. Power’s combination of its industry-leading automotive retail intelligence capabilities with one of the industry’s most trusted sources for used-vehicle valuations.

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When you consult Kelley Blue Book and NADAGuides.com to gain insight into a truck's value, which you can do for free online, you will be asked to do a few things. First, you’ll have to decide on the truck you want to research. You need to indicate the model year, model, and make; for example, 2021 Chevrolet Colorado. You might also be asked for your location because values are location-dependent. So you will be prompted to enter your zip code. Then, you will have get a value based on the base model of the truck, or you can describe the truck in more detail by indicating the equipment it has.

You will be presented with a series of values. One of these is “Retail Value.” That is an estimate of a dealer's asking price for that vehicle should it be available for sale to consumers.

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Another value you might find is the “Private Party Value.” The name might be a bit confusing, but it indicates what you could expect to pay if you purchased this truck from an individual instead of a dealer. Of course, if you are selling the truck to an individual, this is about the amount you could expect to get for the truck.

As KBB describes it, the Kelley Blue Book Private Party Value is the starting point for the negotiation of a used-car sale between a private buyer and seller. This is an “as is” value that does not include any warranties. The final price depends on the car’s actual condition and local market factors. So as with all guidebook values, you should be aware is that they are not precise. They are simply good approximations that can help you begin and conclude negotiations.

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Another value that is very important is the “Trade-in Value.” The trade-in value of a truck is important because it gives you a sense of what a dealer will be willing to offer you if you trade in your truck for another vehicle. Of course, this value is subject to a lot of "ifs." NADAGuides offers three different trade-in values for each used truck based on the its current condition — Rough Trade-In, Average Trade-In, and Clean Trade-In. Kelley Blue Book asks sellers to approximate the truck’s condition before offering a value. Mileage on the truck is also an issue. Trucks with higher-than-average mileage will command lower prices than vehicles with average or lower-than-average miles.

As KBB describes trade-in value as “[an] estimate of what a consumer can expect to receive from a dealer for a trade-in vehicle assuming an accurate appraisal of condition. This value will likely be less than the Kelley Blue Book Private Party Value because the reselling dealer incurs the cost of safety inspections, reconditioning, and other costs of doing business.” Again, these valuations are based on lots of data so they are not precise. They are guides to help a buyer and a seller come to an agreement.

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Obtaining the best used truck for your money involves several factors. One is getting a proper valuation of the truck so you can negotiate from a position of knowledge and strength. Having guidebook information at your fingertips can help with this aspect. At the same time, to get the best deal, you must pursue the right truck in the first place. Getting a low price on a bad truck is not a bargain.

To avoid getting a bad deal, do your research here at Usedcars.com. Our vehicle experts will give you good advice on what trucks to purchase and what trucks to shy away from. An hour or so devoted to vehicle research on usedcars.com will be time well-spent, and it will pay off handsomely. 

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When you have chosen the trucks you believe will meet your needs from your research here at usedcars.com, you should choose some trucks from dealers' inventories near you to do further research on. With information about them, you can go to NADAGuides.com or Kelley Blue Book and look up their values. Enter as much information as you know about the trucks you're interested in so the estimated value will be as accurate as possible.

Once you have the appropriate information, in this instance the retail price, you are very well-armed to enter into negotiations with the dealer. In some cases, if you share the information and its source with the dealer, the dealership will sell you the truck at that price. If not, you are at least close to coming to a mutually beneficial transaction. We hope you enjoy your new truck!

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