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Step 2: What's the Right Car for You?

OK, if you made it this far, we are assuming you have a year, make and model in mind. Now let's go shopping. If you haven't already done so, it's time to empower yourself by visiting Kelley Blue Book's Used Car Retail Values. Here you can find out how much a dealer might be asking for your desired model. Keep in mind that most used vehicles are sold below asking price, depending on local market conditions. We provide the Blue Book Suggested Retail value of models dating back 21 years. While you're there, take the opportunity to get a Blue Book Trade-In value for your own car. You will see how various options, mileage and overall condition will affect the value of your vehicle.

If you need help assessing the condition of your car, we can help you rate it with the Condition Quiz. By filling out a series of questions, we help you determine whether the car is in Excellent, Very Good, Good, Fair or Poor condition. When you reach the options check-list page, fill in the vehicle mileage and various options, and then go to the bottom of the page. There is a section titled "Select Vehicle Condition." Check the box titled "Rate It," then enter your information onto the online form. Kelley will rate the condition of the vehicle based upon your input.

Avoid making a very common mistake and do not over-estimate the condition and, therefore, the value of your current car. And do not take the position that you must have a certain amount of money for it. That car will be worth to the dealer exactly what the dealer figures it is worth, on that day, at that time, and sales managers, particularly those at larger dealerships, tend to have very accurate reads on current market conditions and therefore vehicle valuations. If you deceive yourself into inflating the value of your current car, it will only lead to difficulties later, when the dealership will deliver a reality check.
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