Using Kelley Blue Book to Find the Right Car at the Right Price

Kelley Blue Book can help you buy a car by providing verified information, a car comparison tool, a safety overview, and other features. Here's how to use KBB to find a good car.
Written by Jason Tushinski
Reviewed by Kathleen Flear
Kelley Blue Book (KBB) is a reliable automotive research company that compiles guides, websites, and apps that can help you make sound car-buying decisions.
KBB’s website contains all sorts of information, from car makes and models to pricing information for new and used cars.
Thanks to its partnership with AutoTrader, KBB also has access to a huge online market that is an invaluable resource for selling a used car.
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How Kelley Blue Book works

KBB offers users a slew of verified information on most cars available, which will allow you to do a deep dive to help you determine exactly what you want.
Kelley Blue Book is a great resource to help you find the car you need—its vehicle comparison tool is especially useful in comparing similar cars to figure out which one is best for you. You can use KBB to search most makes and models, filter your results and, compare up to four cars at the same time.
You’ll also find dependable information on prices throughout your search process when using KBB.
Key Takeaway Kelley Blue Book offers a handy car comparison tool that allows you to compare up to four cars simultaneously.

Narrowing your choices on KBB

There are a lot of cars out there, but KBB’s comparison tool will help you decide what kind of car best fits your needs.
As you begin your search, think about what kind of car appeals to you, and then go from there. It’s always a good idea to think about what purpose you’ll primarily use the car for, be it work, pleasure, carpooling, etc.
When you start thinking about different car model features, KBB’s car comparison tool will really help you streamline your search. Find the comparison tool under KBB’s Research Tool dropdown menu.
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Using KBB to compare model features

When searching on KBB, you’ll find the manufacturer's suggested retail price, information on the car’s fuel efficiency, the vehicle’s safety ratings, details about the car’s manufacturer warranty, and KBB’s expert reviews and ratings all in one spot.
Once you familiarize yourself with that top-level information, KBB can guide you through the finer details of any vehicles that you’re looking at.


You’ll want to get a good idea of a car’s specifications, such as its mechanical structure, and using KBB’s comparison tool makes it easy to assess a vehicle’s nuts and bolts.
With the comparison tool, you’ll easily be able to consider engine performance, horsepower, and drivetrains of the cars you’re interested in.
See how exterior and interior designs stack up, as well as the vehicles’ various technology features, and any other specs you can think of.
Of course, each car’s safety attributes can be studied in detail, side by side.


In KBB’s safety section, its experts go over the efficacy and performance of a car’s safety features with a fine-tooth comb.
In all, KBB examines a dozen-plus safety characteristics, grading a vehicle on its airbags, analyzing the performance of any accident warning system or blind spot signals, as well as traction control, if applicable.
If the car is equipped with a rearview camera or communications capabilities, those are graded too.


Kelley Blue Book will highlight any and all technology features on a given vehicle.
Expect to get the lowdown on your chosen car’s Bluetooth capabilities, whether it offers internet connectivity or can act as a Wi-Fi hotspot and whether you can remotely start your car, amongst other features.

Other features

Not to outdo itself, KBB features information on many more potential features, including entertainment options, comfort and interior choices, mechanical structures, security features, and much more.
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Finding fair market value on KBB

Once you’ve decided on a vehicle, KBB will help you determine how much you should pay for your chosen car. Ideally, this feature will prevent you from overpaying for the car of your choice.
Clicking on the see more pricing button, located underneath your chosen car on the compare page, will allow you to build out a new car’s price, or search for inventory if you’re looking for a used car.
If you’ve built out a vehicle, you’ll be able to see the MSRP, or manufacturer’s suggested retail price, and what KBB pegs as its fair purchase price. This is the price KBB expects you’ll pay for your chosen vehicle, including any taxes, surcharges, or incentives.
KBB also shows you what it calls a fair market range, which is what people are actually paying for the car you’re looking at.
This is very handy information to have in your back pocket, as you’ll be able to negotiate with the dealer and, if they insist on a price higher than the market range, you can go elsewhere.
Key Takeaway KBB’s fair market range tells you how much people are paying for the car you’re looking at—use this information to negotiate a better price with a dealer.

Get KBB to help you sell a used car

If you’re looking to sell a used car, KBB can help you find out how to get the best bang for your buck in a private sale or in a trade-in. If the difference is negligible, it won’t be worth it to spend time trying to sell it on your own—in such a case, opt for a trade-in.
To help you trade your car in, KBB shows you its instant cash offer, or the amount of cash you’ll receive if you bring the KBB instant cash offer to a participating dealership.
If a private sale is more your speed, you can place an ad on AutoTrader, KBB’s partner. Advertising your car this way exposes it to millions of viewers who use both the KBB and AutoTrader websites.
Key Takeaway If the difference between a trade-in offer and private sale price for your used car is small, trade the car in instead of spending time and money marketing your car for sale.

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Do car dealers go by Kelley Blue Book?

We’ll let you in on a secret—dealers usually do not use Kelley Blue Book to set prices, as the prices in KBB can be higher than guides a dealer will go by.
Dealers usually follow guides such as Black Book and Manheim Market Report, which aren’t available to the general public. Keep this in mind when negotiating with a price you saw on KBB.

Is Kelley Blue Book accurate?

Yes, Kelley Blue Book is accurate. In fact, it is one of the best services that tracks vehicle prices.
That doesn't mean that KBB is perfect, however. Make sure to cross-reference the prices you see on KBB with other price tracking services, like Edmunds.
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