Which Used Car Pricing Guide Should You Trust?

January 27, 2012
stack of used car price books

If you're using a used car pricing guide to help you in your used car shopping process, you may be wondering which has the most accurate pricing information. There is a lot of disparity in the prices for a particular vehicle with a specific number of miles and in a certain condition. Knowing which value to use can often be confusing.

Kelley Blue Book and Edmunds
Kelley Blue Book and Edmunds are two of the most well known used car pricing guides in the United States. There is also another: NADA—but, NADA is usually used by banks or car dealers to show you an inflated price value. Therefore, you should never use NADA books for real references.

Kelley Blue Book and Edmunds both offer very good general reference information when it comes to current market conditions and price levels for a particular make and model used car or truck. However, the values shown on each website will probably vary by a few thousand dollars. No one seems to really know why, and no one site is often higher or lower than the other. For one vehicle Kelley Blue Book maybe significantly higher than Edmunds—and for another vehicle, Edmunds may be somewhat higher.

It's not very complicated to use the figures from both sites to get an average selling price for a particular vehicle. In fact, you just add the numbers together and divide by two. However, there is another option that you should place into the equation.

Check Prices of Other Used Cars
Before trying to use the pricing guide values to come up with an average selling price for a vehicle, you should also search the Internet for vehicles that are the same make and model as the one you're thinking of buying. You might choose large car shopping sites like Auto Trader or CarsDirect to get current pricing information for the same kind of vehicle you're considering.

Find a few sites that have the vehicle and jot down the amounts that those vehicles are selling for. Once you have a few reference prices, average those together and come up with an average selling price for that car currently being sold on the Internet.

After that, simply average the three amounts that you have: the Kelley Blue Book average price, the Edmunds average price and the average price for cars that are selling on the Internet. By getting an average selling price from all three values, you'll probably have a much clearer picture of where the vehicle you're considering should be priced.