Can I Pay Less Than Blue Book?
The short answer is yes, you can often pay less than the Blue Book price for a car, but not always. When you’re shopping for a car, the Kelley Blue Book (KBB) price is a good starting point, but it’s not the be-all and end-all. As you prepare to negotiate, it’s helpful to know how Blue Book determines its prices.
How Blue Book Works
A number of factors go into the Kelley Blue Book price for a vehicle. These include the vehicle’s make, model, year, manufacturer’s suggested retail price (for new vehicles), and typical mileage (for used vehicles). Blue Book also analyzes real-world car prices, industry developments, economic conditions, and vehicle prices in your location.
On the KBB website, you can input details about the vehicle you’re looking to buy — for example, make, model, year, mileage (for used vehicles), your location, and optional specs (like trim or color). Then, Blue Book will give you a market range and a fair purchase price for the vehicle. This is what you can reasonably expect to pay, excluding taxes and fees.
That said, a dealer or private seller might price the car higher than the Blue Book range, with good reason. For example, if the vehicle is in low supply or you want hard-to-find options, expect to pay more.
By the same token, you might find a vehicle priced below market value. Sometimes, sellers use low prices to conceal major issues with the car. But a low price isn’t necessarily a red flag.
Excess inventory can drive prices down, or a private seller might need to get a vehicle off their hands before a move. Always test-drive a car and schedule a pre-purchase inspection with a mechanic before buying a used car. Sure, the seller might want to sell the car to unsuspecting car buyers, but the higher prices may not be worth even the Kelley Blue Book offering.
How to Negotiate Lower Than the Blue Book Price
Once you know Kelley Blue Book’s price for the vehicle you’re interested in, the following strategies can help you negotiate a better deal.
- Do your research and negotiate. Kelley Blue Book’s prices often favor dealers, so negotiate down from there. Similar guides also offer vehicle pricing, such as Edmunds, the National Automobile Dealers Association, Consumer Reports, and J.D. Power. Check the vehicle’s price with other sources, and bring these numbers to the negotiation.