If you’re buying or selling a used car, you’ll want an accurate valuation of the vehicle to know if it’s fairly priced. Luckily there are plenty of pricing tools available to help you figure out how much a vehicle is worth.
You’ve probably heard of the most common two: NADA Guides and Kelley Blue Book®. Is one more accurate than the other? And what are the differences between these two pricing guides? We have the important answers, but first here's a brief description of each:
NADAGuidesNADA stands for the National Automobile Dealers Association, which is a trade organization that represents all franchised new-car dealers . NADA publishes the Official Used Car Guide, which provides used car values for dealers across the United States. Since 1933, the Used Car guide has been a trusted and valuable resource for dealers to set retail prices and calculate trade-in values . In 2015, NADA was acquired by J.D. Power, another industry-leading data company. NADA also has a consumer-facing website, NADAguides.com, which provides pricing information on new and used cars as well as classic cars, motorcycles, recreational vehicles (RVs), boats, and motor homes.
Kelley Blue Book PriceYou’ve probably heard of “Blue Book value,” as it’s become nearly synonymous with car trade-in values . Kelley Blue Book value has been a popular pricing tool since it was first published in 1926. The Blue Book is a guidebook that sets prices for new and used cars and provides an estimated range of prices for car buyers based on a specific make, model, style and year of a vehicle. The Blue Book can also be accessed online through Kelley Blue Book ’s website, KBB.com.
NADA Used Car Value Vs. KBB Used Car Value:There are similarities and differences between NADA and KBB and how they calculate used car values .
First let’s look at how the two are similar:
- Consumer-Friendly: Both NADA and KBB have over 80 years of experience and are aimed at helping consumers find accurate valuations of used cars.
- Trusted by Dealers: Dealers also rely on NADA and KBB to help them sell cars and to determine trade-in values.
- Multiple Price Options: NADA and KBB each provide trade-in values and retail values.
- Range of Values: Both NADA and KBB provide multiple values for trade-ins. KBB provides a fair market range, while NADA provides three values based on the condition of your trade-in.
- Constantly Updated: NADA and KBB reflect current market trends and constantly update their pricing information.
- Methods of Assessing Value: NADA focuses on a vehicle’s wholesale price, while KBB looks at condition, mileage, warranty and local market conditions.
- Data Collection: KBB gets their data from car auctions, used car sales from auto dealers, fleets, manufacturers, and private party sales to determine pricing; while NADA uses wholesale transactions, dealership sales transactions, and pricing from websites like Autotrader.
- Different Conditions: NADA vehicle values are generally higher because they assume the car is in good condition, while KBB asks specific questions about the car’s condition.
- Pricing Classifications: KBB provides private party value, trade-in value, suggested retail value, and certified pre-owned (CPO) value, while NADA provides trade-in values, retail value, and CPO values. NADA does not provide a private party value.
Understanding Pricing Terms: Trade-In Vs. Private Party Vs. Retail:Because these values can vary greatly, it’s important to understand what the common pricing terms mean and the differences among them.
A car’s trade-in value is the amount of money a car dealer will offer you for your vehicle, while private party value is the amount of money you would get when you’re selling a vehicle directly to a buyer. Because dealerships handle the complicated process of selling the vehicle, they offer a lower trade-in value to make a profit when they sell the car and to cover the overhead associated with the transaction, like inspecting, reconditioning and transferring ownership. Another pricing term is retail value, which is what a buyer can expect to pay for a used car at a dealership. Retail value is typically the highest value to cover overhead and help dealers make a profit.
Pricing Report Examples:Here are examples of what you will see if you use each tool to get a pricing estimate on a used car . These estimates are for the same used car , designated in very good condition for Kelley Blue Book . Kelley Blue Book asks for a condition, while NADA provides three different prices based on varying condition levels.
Kelley Blue Book:
NADA’s Clean Trade-In value falls on the higher end of KBB’s trade-in range. NADA lists a higher retail price.
Sell Your Car Instantly:Both NADA and KBB will provide you with instant offers for your vehicle to provide a quick and hassle-free way to sell your car.
NADA provides an instant offer through its network of certified dealers on the J.D. Power website. You can either drop your car off at a participating dealer, or someone will come and pick up your car. You can get paid for your car or put it toward the purchase of another vehicle.
Kelley Blue Book provides an Instant Cash Offer after you input your vehicle information through their website. The offer is valid for three days that can be redeemed at a participating dealer. Sellers can also put the money toward the purchase of another vehicle.
The instant offers are both subject to inspections.
Other Pricing Guides:While KBB and NADA are two of the most popular tools for determining used car prices , there are other resources you can use to find the value of your car:
- iSeeCars: The iSeeCars How Much is My Car Worth? Tool determines the market price of your vehicle. Driven by data, iSeeCars calculates market value with its trove of 25 billion data points that analyze prices of similar cars for sale in the same local area. Its calculation takes into account many factors such as price, mileage, condition, trim, bodystyle, and features. If you’re buying a used car, the iSeeCars Free VIN Check will provide a comprehensive pricing analysis to help you understand if a car is fairly priced.
- Consumer Reports: Consumer Reports is a trusted, unbiased website that includes pricing for used cars, as well as important information on reliability.
- Edmunds: Edmunds offers a free appraisal tool that provides accurate True Market Value (TMV®) for your vehicle. It determines the average transaction price for both new or used vehicles in your local area. Edmunds also has a handy car loan calculator that will allow you to estimate monthly payments.
- TrueCar: TrueCar draws on its network of dealers across the United States that provides the company with transaction data. TrueCar provides an estimated value based on your vehicle’s specs and condition. It then calculates a TrueCar cash offer and connects you with a certified dealer who will deliver a check for the vehicle’s value.
Bottom Line:Whether you’re interested in car buying or selling, it’s important to understand the fair price for a used vehicle . Just like it’s important for car shoppers to do their research and shop around to find the best price for a used car , it’s important to use multiple car valuation tools to help you determine a car’s value. This will help you understand if a car has a fair asking price , or if there is a lot of room for negotiation.
If you’re in the market for a new or used vehicle, you can search over 4 million used and new cars with iSeeCars’ award-winning car search engine that helps shoppers find the best car deals by providing key insights and valuable resources, like the iSeeCars free VIN decoder reports.