How Kelley Blue Book Can Help You Buy a Car

Couple on a road trip in a convertible
••• Henrik Weis/Digital Vision/Getty Images

Buying a new vehicle can be a daunting task with many many steps involved. While all these steps can leave you questioning your sanity, Kelley Blue Book aka, can give you the guidance to streamline your decision making. First you have to choose what type of vehicle you want. Once you determine whether you will be getting a car, van, crossover, truck, etc., you will have to choose which make and model will fit your wants and needs. After deciding the make and model, you will need to decide if you want any of the extra options. Throughout this process, you will also be making the decision of what you are willing to pay for the vehicle. Finally, if you have a vehicle you will need to decide whether to trade it in or sell it yourself. Once you make this choice, you have to choose a price that you are willing to let the car go for. Whew, now that sounds like a lot of work.

KBB Can Help You Pick the Perfect Make and Model

There are several factors that go into selecting the make and model of a new vehicle. For starters, I usually start looking at vehicles that I find appealing. Then, I think about what I need to accomplish with the new vehicle. It can be hard to narrow down your search if you do not know what features the new vehicle includes. Kelley Blue Book speeds this up by offering a compare feature under their Research Tool menu option. You can select up to four vehicles using this tool and then review the details side by side; It would be nice if you could put in one vehicle and it would suggest the competitions equivalent offerings.

  1. Overview & Pricing will inform you of the suggested retail price, summarize the general information about the vehicles, the manufacturer's warranty, and any customer incentives if available. This section will give you a general idea if the vehicles you are interested in are within your price range.
  2. The Photos tab will let you look at the interior and exterior of the vehicle. This tab will help you decide if the vehicle is stylish and sleek enough for you to be seen in. While there is no substitute for actually getting into the vehicle we are just trying to narrow down your choices here; So you’re not spending as much time at the dealership.
  3. Features will cover all of the options available on the vehicle. It will also list whether it is standard, optional or not available for each vehicle you are comparing. This area will really help you eliminate a few choices based on the wants and needs you have for your new vehicle.
  4. Technical Specs contains all the geeky information like engine size, horsepower, interior dimensions, etc… The one thing I would pay attention to here is the fuel economy of the vehicle. The gas mileage of the vehicle could have a huge impact on the cost to own the vehicle over five years. Another detail that could play into the cost to own is the tire size. If the vehicle is sporting a common tire size you will probably be able to replace the tires at a more reasonable price.
  5. Safety will make you aware of all the safety features on the vehicle, airbags, child door locks, if it is equipped with an engine immobilizer, traction control, and whether it comes with communications system or not. These are all important features that you would be happy to have but love it if you never needed to use them. This tab also shares all the crash test ratings, if any, that will make you turn the other cheek or feel warm and fuzzy about chauffeuring your loved ones around.
  6. Reviews & Ratings will contain a full review of the vehicles by Kelley Blue Book themselves. I really like the quick summary sections titles, “You’ll Like This Car If...” and “You May Not Like This Car If...”. Beyond the Kelley Blue Book review is the J.D. Power quality ratings and the estimated cost to own the vehicle over a five-year period.

With all of this information at your fingertips, you should be able to decide on a make and model. These tools will also give you the confidence that the vehicle you are buying will meet your needs. Buyer’s remorse is not a good feeling to have when you are spending so much money on your new vehicle purchase.

How to Look Up the Fair Market Value on KBB

Now that you have decided on a make and model we need to figure out what you should pay for the vehicle. 

  • From the compare page, you can click on the configure & price button located in the “Next Steps” section. You will be able to select many options like the color of the vehicle or the entertainment package.
  • Once you have the vehicle outfitted to your liking click on the “See Fair Purchase Price” button at the bottom. Then you can see the MSRP, invoice, and fair market value.

The fair market value is a range that represents what people are actually purchasing the vehicle for; This is before taxes, rebates, and incentives are applied. Knowing the fair market value will give you negotiating power when you’re actually at the dealership. You can start at the lowest fair market value if the dealer pushes you past your maximum price, or past the fair market value, walk away from the deal. At the bottom of the page, you can review the fair purchase price. This is the price you can expect to pay after taxes, rebates, and incentives are applied.

Get Help Selling Your Used Vehicle on KBB

If this is your first vehicle then you are ready to take your negotiation skills to the dealership. If you are someone with a previous vehicle then you have a few more steps before heading out. You will need to decide whether you want to sell the vehicle privately or trade it into a dealer. Kelley Blue Book will inform you of how much your vehicle is worth if you decide to sell it versus trading it in. If the gap better selling it verse trading it in is small you may want to avoid the hassle of marketing your vehicle and trying to sell it on your own. Either way, you now have a price range to negotiate with. If you do decide to sell it on your own you can place on online ad through Kelley Blue Book. This is going to be through Auto Trader because Kelley Blue Book is a subsidiary.

By visiting one website you can gather all the information you need to ensure that you are getting the best deal. With this knowledge, you will have the confidence that you are getting a vehicle that will meet your needs and the ability to negotiate effectively. To further aid you, be sure to check out Kelley Blue Book’s competing websites like Edmonds and TrueCar.