What Is the Blue Book?

The Blue Book Explained

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If you're in the market for a car, you've probably heard of the Blue Book—otherwise known as Kelley Blue Book. The Blue Book is a resource that provides pricing information on used and new cars, as well as information regarding financing, car repairs, and car reviews.

The Blue Book is one of the most trusted sources of car information in the U.S. Here’s a closer look at how it works.

Definition and Examples of the Blue Book

The Kelley Blue Book is a website and online resource that helps people buy and sell cars. The company has been in business for more than 90 years, and used to publish a physical book. It provides pricing information on new and used cars, as well as information on financing and leasing. It’s often regarded as the place to go if you're looking for an accurate valuation of your vehicle.

  • Alternate name: Kelley Blue Book
  • Acronym: KBB

For example, suppose Tyra is thinking of trading in her 2017 Prius for a newer model. She wants to make sure the dealership doesn’t lowball her car’s value, so she looks up the Blue Book value of her car. The Blue Book tells her $16,972 is a fair trade-in value for her car in its condition, so now she knows what to negotiate for at the dealership.

Note

The "fair market value" or “Blue Book value” of a vehicle is how much you could expect to pay or receive for a specific vehicle this week, based on its condition, age, make, model, and location.

How the Blue Book Works

The Blue Book is updated at least weekly and can be used to browse listings, get pricing information, and find out more about your favorite cars. The Blue Book is used by both consumers and dealerships to determine the value of a vehicle. Some of its most-used features are listed below.

Car Values

When it’s time to sell your vehicle, you want to make sure you’re getting a fair price. The Blue Book has an estimator tool to help you determine your car’s value based on its condition and whether you’re trading it in or selling it to a private party.

To use the estimator, all you need to do is enter in your car’s make and model, trim information, and the condition of your vehicle. You’ll also provide the zip code where you want to sell your vehicle.

For example, the trade-in value range of a 2017 Toyota Prius Two Eco in good condition is $15,742 to $17,655 for Jacksonville, Florida. The private-party value is slightly higher at $16,548 to $18,569.

The estimated price range KBB gives you is based on several factors:

  • The car’s make, model, trim, and condition
  • Auction sales
  • Dealership transactions
  • Online vehicle listings
  • In-house analytics

In addition to pricing, KBB results include:

  • The average time it should take you to sell your car
  • How much of the estimated value you should expect from the sale
  • How much effort you’ll have to put in to sell it

Note

The Blue Book has an Instant Cash Offer feature you can use if you want to sell your car quickly. KBB partners with local and nationwide dealerships to generate cash offers based on the information you provide about your vehicle.

Cars for Sale

KBB provides listings of cars for sale. You can search local inventory, find dealerships, and get a free price quote for a new car. You can also view specs and pictures of vehicles for sale, and vehicle history reports when available.

Car Reviews

The Blue Book releases a list of the best vehicles on the market each year, broken down into categories for cars, SUVs, trucks, minivans, EVs, and hybrids. So if you know which type of vehicle you’re looking for, you can use this information to compare top choices. You can also check out average prices for these vehicles in the Blue Book’s New Car Buyer’s Guide, read reviews from KBB editors, and shop for these vehicles directly on the site.

Car Repair

In addition to its estimator tool and car listings, KBB’s website has car repair resources specific to your vehicle that help you:

  • Estimate auto repair and maintenance costs
  • Find repair shops near you
  • View car recalls
  • Service and repair guides
  • Decipher OBD-II codes

Alternatives to the Blue Book

If you're looking for car pricing information, the Blue Book is a popular resource. However, there are several well-known websites that offer vehicle valuations. Getting valuations from multiple sites can help you gauge the true value of your vehicle.

The National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) is owned by J.D. Power and Associates and is a source for car, motorcycle, RV, and boat values. You can also use this website to get pricing information for new and used vehicles, as well as specs and pictures. 

Edmunds, another valuation and listing site, provides price estimates for your vehicle based on the information you provide and, when applicable, instant offers from CarMax.

Key Takeaways

  • The Blue Book, also known as Kelley Blue Book or KBB, is a guide that provides pricing information for new and used cars, as well as specs and pictures.
  • The Blue Book is one of the most trusted sources for car values. It's used by both consumers and dealerships to determine the value of a car.
  • The Blue Book isn’t the only way to find car pricing information. You can use other industry-trusted resources, such as the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) and Edmunds.
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Sources
The Balance uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Kelley Blue Book. "About Us."

  2. Kelley Blue Book. "Used Car Prices."

  3. Kelley Blue Book. "My Car's Value: 2017 Toyota Prius Two Eco Hatchback 4D." Enter 32099 zip code.

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