When buying a used car, it’s usually hard to know what a fair price is.
You have to consider not just the type of vehicle, but the vehicle
condition, mileage and options.Good thing Kelley Blue Book has over 90
years of experience with used car pricing and we’ve done the analysis
for you.If you’re buying a used car at a dealership, start with the
Typical Listing Price.It gives you an idea of the asking prices you
might see on dealer’s lot. For what you might actually pay for that used
car, use the Kelley Blue Book® Fair Market Range as a guide. It’ll show
you what you can reasonably expect to pay this week in your area for a
used vehicle with the options and mileage you want. It’s based on data
from real transactions, plus market conditions and vast industry
knowledge. If you’re buying the car from an individual instead of a
dealership, look at the Kelley Blue Book® Private Party Value. It’s the
starting point for negotiation of a used car sale between a private
buyer and seller. It tends to be a little lower than the used car Fair
Purchase Price because a private party doesn’t have all the costs
associated with running a dealership. And even if you don’t know exactly
what used car you want, KBB.com helps you find used car pricing and more
on vehicles in popular categories like sedans, SUVs and trucks.
Table of Contents
What’s the difference between a used car and a CPO Car?
Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) Cars are essentially top-quality, inspected
used cars backed by manufacturer’s warranties.
- Are less than 5 years old
- Have fewer than 100,000 miles
- Have been thoroughly inspected by factory-trained technicians
- Include an additional warranty
- Qualify for new car loan rates
- Often include additional perks like roadside assistance
For a non-certified used car, what you see is what you get, but at least you can rely on the Kelley Blue Book® Fair Market Range to know what you should pay!
Is age or mileage more important when buying a used car?
Most people think that a low-mileage car is the better deal, even if
it’s 5-10 years old. But, unfortunately, that’s not necessarily true. It
really comes down to how the vehicle has been maintained and treated
over its life.
An older vehicle with low mileage has parts that may’ve rusted or
deteriorated over time, especially rubber components like hoses, seals
and tires. On the other hand, a higher mileage newer vehicle (which is
more likely to have newer comforts and technology) can still be in great
condition if all the maintenance like oil changes and tune-ups have been
Here are a few things you can do to give you more context on a specific vehicle:
- Research the model’s history. Check to see if there are repetitive problems, such as serious (and expensive) issues with the transmission or engine.
- Know the car’s history. Ask the dealer or owner to show you a vehicle history report like Carfax or AutoCheck. Or you can buy a used car report yourself for around $40.
- Have the vehicle inspected before you buy. Either bring it to your own mechanic or take it to an independent inspection source like Alliance Inspection Management (AiM).
For more information from our Kelley Blue Book editors, read the full article.
How do I get a good deal on a used car?
Rely on the Kelley Blue Book® Fair Market Range for Used Cars. Our valuation experts have done all the calculations for you to show you what you can expect to pay. The Fair Market Range takes into account all the factors that can make used car pricing confusing: mileage, condition, options, plus hard-to-figure elements like seasonal trends and regional variations in over 100 geographical regions across the U.S.
Updated weekly to give you the latest pricing, the Kelley Blue Book® Fair Market Range is based on actual dealership transactions, auction sales, online vehicle listings and our own analytics. We crunch a lot of data to give you a price range you can count on.
But please take note: you have to make sure you’re using the right info
when you look up a car. Most vehicles are available in a variety of styles
(also call “trims”). If you check a price for a base model but then actually
shop for a well-equipped style, your expectations may be off. And if you’re
looking at a specific vehicle from a private seller or on a dealer’s lot,
you’ll need to configure the vehicle accurately – including options and
mileage – in order to get the right price for that vehicle.
What should I look for when test driving a used car?
Believe it or not, most people rush when buying a used car. Even if
you’re not a mechanic, do a thorough walk-around and mechanical
look-see. For example, check for uneven tire wear – it could be a sign
of poor alignment.
When test-driving, spend as much time as you can. Sit in the car a while and check every interior function, then take to the streets and pay attention to:
- Seat comfort: Too hard? Too soft? Do you have enough thigh and back support?
- Cockpit ergonomics: How is the visibility to the front and sides? Are the dashboard lights easy to see? Are the stereo and heater controls easy to reach? If there’s an info screen, check this out thoroughly.
- Engine noise: Upon starting the engine, listen for tapping or ticking sounds, which can indicate an issue. Once you’re driving, there should be no grinding or groaning sounds.
- Steering vibration: A well-operating steering system shouldn’t shake or vibrate.
- Brakes: The car should continue in a straight line when the brakes are applied.
For more tips about the test drive and info about how to buy a used car, read the full 10 Steps to Buying a Used Car