Frequently Asked Questions: My Car's Value

How can I get the value of my car on a past date?

Occasionally we get a request from a consumer for the value of a particular vehicle at a particular date in history. This request may be for litigation, estate planning, taxes, etc. The fee for a Past Value Report is $35 per value. We do sell older books as well, and in some cases the book may be less expensive than the Past Value Report. To request a Past Value Report or archive book, please contact our Customer Service Department at 1-800-258-3266, option 2. This service usually has a 48-72 hour turn around time. If you do not wish to purchase a report or book, our publications can often be found at libraries or credit unions

How do I see the Blue Book® Value for my vehicle?

To get to the value for your car, navigate the path to the Blue Book Trade-In and Private Party Values: 

  • On the home page or under "Car Values" from the top navigation, select "My Car's Value".
  • Tell us the year, make, model and mileage of the car you own (2015> Honda> Civic>30000 miles). Verify the ZIP code. 
  • Choose your car's category (sedan vs wagon) and style (DX, EX, LX). Note: Many vehicles only come in one category, but most vehicles are sold in more that one style, which some sites call "trim". Whatever you call it, these are pre-packaged levels of equipment - and they definitely affect the price or value of a car. 
  • Add any additional equipment or options (packages, alloy wheels, moon roof, premium sound, etc.)
  • Choose what you're most likely to do - Trade In to a Dealer or Sell to a Private Party. 
  • Tell us the car's condition (Excellent, Very Good, Good, or Fair) or, if you're not sure, take the Condition Quiz. Most cars we see are in "Good" condition. 
  • View the Blue Book Value based on your ZIP code and your car's age, mileage, equipment, and condition.
What are Trade-in Values?

Trade-in Value is what you can expect to receive for your current car when trading it in at a dealer, assuming you've chosen the accurate condition. The Trade-in Value presupposes that you're buying another vehicle from the same dealership. The Trade-in Value will be less than the Private Party Value because the reselling dealer has to pay to recondition the car, perform safety inspections and incur other costs of doing business. 

What is the Trade-in Range?

The Trade-in Range is an estimate of what you can reasonably expect to receive for a vehicle with the miles and options you specify, when trading in the car at a dealer. It generally presumes that you will buy another car from the same dealer. 

What are Private Party Values?

Private Party Value is what a buyer can expect to pay when buying a used car from a private party. It may also represent the value you might expect to receive when selling your own used car to another private party. The Private Party Value assumes the vehicle is sold "As Is" and carries no warranty (other than the continuing factory warranty, if any). The final sale price may vary depending on the vehicle's actual condition and local market conditions. This value may also be used to derive the vehicle's value for insurance and vehicle donation purposes.

What is the Kelley Blue Book℠ Instant Cash Offer? 

The Kelley Blue Book℠ Instant Cash Offer is a real offer for a specific amount to purchase a consumer's car or apply the amount toward another car. The Offer is valid for 3 days (not counting Sundays) and can be immediately redeemed during business hours at any Participating Dealer, pending inspection. It is based on specific elements of the consumer's car, like installed options, specific condition (such as dents and mechanical issues) and local market demand.

How is an Instant Cash Offer different from Trade-in Range?

The Kelley Blue Book℠ Instant Cash Offer is:

● A fixed offer applied toward your next car purchase or used to sell your current car to a Participating Dealer (pending inspection)

● Valid for 3 days (not counting Sundays)

● Based on specific details related to the condition and features of your car, like installed options, dents, mechanical issues, and local market demand


The Kelley Blue Book® Trade-In Value is:

● An estimated trade-in value used toward the purchase of another car only

● Updated weekly

● Applied to similar cars of the same year, make, model, style and general condition

● The general value Kelley Blue Book estimates consumers can expect to negotiate this week based on the style, condition, mileage and options of the vehicle when they trade it in to a dealer, however every dealer is different and values are not guaranteed

Is it better to trade in my car or sell it myself? 

This is a question of personal preference. When you trade a car in, the dealer must then absorb the cost of making the vehicle ready for sale, reconditioning, advertising, sales commissions, arranging financing and insurance and standing behind the vehicle for any mechanical or safety problems. You may get more for your car if you sell it yourself, but you need to consider the value of your time, the aggravation of performing at least some of the above tasks to get the vehicle into a suitable resale condition and the liability of making appointments and giving a test drive. See more about Selling vs. Trading in our Advice Section.

How do I determine what condition my current car is in? 

This is a judgment call, so you will need to be as honest with yourself as possible. Most people tend to overestimate the condition of their car. As a guide, we post the percentage of vehicles we value that match each condition. For example, if only 3% of the vehicles in the market are considered "Excellent" condition, chances are that your car isn't one of them. If you aren't sure, take our condition quiz.

My car has air conditioning, but it's broken; do I still check the box marked AC?

Yes. But in fairness, you would need to deduct the cost to repair the broken equipment from the total vehicle price. There is one exception: when the cost of the repair is higher than the value of the broken item, it's best not to include that item in the list of optional equipment.

Can I sell my car on your site?

Yes. As private party, you've got the same opportunity as a dealership: to reach millions of serious car shoppers with a listing on and Autotrader. To create, purchase and post your car's classified ad, get started here. 

My car has a salvage title. How does that affect the value?

A salvaged, reconstructed or otherwise "clouded" title has a permanent negative effect on the value of a vehicle. The industry rule of thumb is to deduct 20% to 40% of the Blue Book® Value, but salvage title vehicles really should be privately appraised on a case-by-case basis in order to determine their market value.

What about the value of equipment on my car that you don't have listed? 

There are some options (e.g., rims, alarm systems, heated seats, trip computers) that are not addressed on our site. Most of these are dealer-installed or aftermarket. These items don't have a consistent or reportable added value in the used marketplace. That is not to say that such options are worthless as they may make your vehicle more marketable against similar models; however we do not address options when there is not a consistent value to report.

Why don't you value aftermarket equipment? 

This can be confusing for a lot of people: "Why do you show a luggage rack as optional, but not the ski rack I installed myself?"

We only value items which are either factory-installed or "factory quality." There is a tremendous variation in something like rims, so it would be impossible to list – and report values for – all the different options. Space does not allow us to identify the vast variety of aftermarket items.

I purchased my car outside the US, but it is now registered here. What's the value of it?

Kelley Blue Book only offers values on vehicles sold in the United States. Cars imported through sources other than factory authorized distributors are considered gray market vehicles and may have substantially lower used car values because the conversion to U.S. specification is performed by aftermarket companies, not the factory. Kelley Blue Book does not address gray market vehicles; therefore yours may have to be privately appraised.

I totaled my car. How will the insurance company determine what it was worth? 

Policies vary quite a bit, but generally, insurance adjusters try to determine the value for a vehicle that has been totaled as somewhere between Wholesale and Retail. They may also research comparable vehicles that have sold in your area to help determine a fair price. You could average the Trade-In Value with the Typical Listing Price of your vehicle and use the resulting value as a reference point for determining the vehicle's value. Please note that insurance companies do not have any obligation to use Kelley Blue Book pricing to determine replacement values. Insurance companies use Kelley Blue Book as a reference but will set their own policies as to which values they use.

My car is more than 21 years old. How do I find its value?

Kelley Blue Book provides values for used vehicles up to 21 years old. Transactions for older vehicles are too rare, therefore we don't have enough data to analyze and are unable to report values for them. If you have questions, please contact our Customer Service Department at 1-800-258-3266, option 2. 

Why doesn't Kelley Blue Book list trade-in values, private party values, or a used car Fair Purchase Price for Lotus, Ferrari, Bentley, etc.?

Kelley Blue Book reports vehicle values by analyzing actual transactions in the market. We do not believe in using arbitrary formulas to predict prices because our promise is to report dependable values, not set prices. Kelley Blue Book does not currently offer certain values for these exotics or low-volume vehicles since they are seldom seen in the market and can vary widely in value. Low-volume and exotic vehicles should be privately appraised to establish a trade-in or private party value.

I bought a new car a few months ago and I would like to check its used value. When will it be listed?

Kelley Blue Book reports vehicle values by analyzing actual transactions in the market. We do not believe in using arbitrary formulas to predict prices because our promise is to report dependable values, not set prices. It can be difficult to establish used values on newer vehicles if we have not seen enough transactions in the required amount of different markets to establish dependable values on these vehicles.

What is the difference between the Trade-In Value I see on your site and the Blue Book® Lending Value?

The Trade-In Value on our site supposes that the vehicle is in fair, good, very good or excellent condition and is taken in by the dealer AS IS. The Blue Book® Lending Value, which is intended for use by the wholesale industry, factors in the Trade-In Value of the vehicle plus the cost associated with reconditioning the vehicle to the manufacturer's specifications and performing all required safety checks to make it ready for sale. In other words, while Trade-In Values vary depending on the condition of the vehicle, Blue Book Lending Values assume the car is in good condition or better, meeting manufacturer and state requirements. Lending Value is widely used by dealers as a starting point to estimate a vehicle's value, depending on its condition.

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