Did you get the Kelly Blue Book value on your trade-in?
April 20, 2013 6:00 AM   Subscribe

I want to trade my car in and buy a new one. The Kelly Blue Book value of my trade-in is $7500, but the dealer's "Black Book" value is $3000-4000.

Haven't visited the dealer yet - just using the tools on their web site. I know from experience with them in the past that if I say the Blue Book value is X, they say, "well you should go sell it yourself, because we won't give you anything like that."

The number I'm using from Kelly is for a trade-in (not a direct personal sale) and I'm under-valuing the condition just to be conservative (I'm using the figure for "Good" condition when it's really "Very Good").

Also, I want to pay the "Fair Market Value" for the new car, as indicated on the Edmunds site.

My question is: what was your experience when asking for the Kelly Blue Book value of your trade-in? Did you have to settle for a lot less, or perhaps pay more than you hoped for the new car? Or did you get the Blue Book value for your trade while still paying the price you had in mind for the new one?
posted by Right On Red to Shopping (18 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
On the one hand, expecting to get the full KBB value is unrealistic; on the other hand, the dealer offering you half that KBB value? Run.

One way to check actual values for your area: check the used car ads for a while, and figure 80% of what those people are asking is what you can reasonably expect to get. Also, check into donating the car to charity: you can usually use the full KBB value of your donation as a tax deduction.
posted by easily confused at 6:14 AM on April 20, 2013

Skip the dealers entirely and sell it privately - Both parties will come out better off for it.

The only time you'll get anywhere near a fair price from a dealer on selling a used car happens when you trade in a fairly old and nearly-worthless car for a much higher priced new car. "Sure, we'll give you the full $1500 KBB price for your clunker, as a down payment on that $75k Audi S6!"
posted by pla at 6:22 AM on April 20, 2013 [2 favorites]

The only reason to trade in a car is for the convenience. But as you found, you pay for that.

After all, the dealer needs to sell the car for it's market value and still make money on the transaction costs, preparation, and marketing of it - and that money has to come from somewhere.

So, if you're looking to get the most money for your old car, you should sell it yourself.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 6:34 AM on April 20, 2013

Why would a dealer offer you full value on a car? They're trying to make a profit. You'll be much better off if you simplify the transaction by not mentioning a trade-in. The more complicated te transaction, the more advantage the party with more expertise
posted by skewed at 6:37 AM on April 20, 2013 [2 favorites]

Car dealers, generally, will try to rip you off, while acting like you are the one ripping them off. There are exceptions, but this is what I have found.

When you go to the dealership, ask for $1500 more than you want to get, and offer to pay $3000 less than the "fair market value" for the new car on top of that. When they act kind of shocked and laugh at you for asking so much, mirror their attitude and walk away. They'll probably lower their offer. Come around gradually and take a lower offer. Then, after everything seems finalized and they're going through the paperwork, they will try to sell you overpriced, unnecessary extended warranties. Add up the amount you would pay if you bought all of their extras, multiply by 40%, and subtract this amount from your offer as only fair because they were trying to rip you off with the warranty. Start to walk again (and don't buy their warranties/extras!), and they'll probably lower their offer to something reasonable.

If nothing else, you'll become a better negotiator.

Also, if you are buying a used car, get an inspection from an independent mechanic, and walk if they concealed any damage to the car.
posted by sninctown at 6:46 AM on April 20, 2013 [3 favorites]

Pla has it right. The dealer might give you the full KBB on your old car only to make it up on some other aspect of your car purchase, like the price you're paying for the new car or the financing.

And there's the rub, when buying a new car there's actually three or four negotiations, not just one. If they can wear you down on the price of the car, then they can slip in financing terms that will cost you in the long run.
posted by Mercaptan at 6:48 AM on April 20, 2013

I think many of these responses are missing the fact that Blue Book trade-in values are already much lower than private party values, and lower still than dealer retail figures, to account for dealer profit. That said, we were not offered anything like blue-book trade-in value when we bought our last car. I chalk that up to the fact that our old car had 90K+ miles on it and was less pretty than anything the dealer had on the lot, meaning they wouldn't even be likely to sell it at retail; they'd have just sold if off wholesale to get it out of sight. We elected to sell it ourselves, and got the Edmunds private party value within a week. (KBB prices are generally high in all categories, IMO).

I highly recommend Don't Get Taken Every Time. Saved us a bundle.
posted by jon1270 at 6:51 AM on April 20, 2013 [3 favorites]

Also, I want to pay the "Fair Market Value" for the new car, as indicated on the Edmunds site.

No, you actually don't. You want to pay the least amount of money on your new car given that you are giving up your old car. The value of the trade-in is just a trick that the dealer can play to divert your attention from the actual value of the entire transaction.

Say they offer $3,000 for your car. You then reject their offer, and they come back, after extensive and theatrical dialogue with their management, and offer $6,500, saying that's the best they can do. You decide to take it, because it's "close enough" to the market value. They then pad the car price by $4,000, and come out $500 ahead. You think you've made a deal.

The best negotiation tool for dealing with buying a new car is realizing that the price of any one subcomponent is irrelevent and that the only detail that matters is the actual cost of the new car to you.
posted by saeculorum at 6:57 AM on April 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: You can shop it around. Go to CarMax, they'll give you a price. If its better than the dealer, take it, if not move on.

If you don't like the deal, walk,

You have the most leverage if you come in with prearranged financing. Cash or a check from your credit union. Also on Edmunds, you'll see if there are dealer incentives.

I went into buy my car on a Football Sunday in October. The dealership was empty. I had the Vin number of the car in stock that I wanted. I had my old car in trade. They gave me $1000 more than blue book on my car, I told them what I wanted to pay and we were done.

Be prepared to spend time, but also be prepared to walk.

There are car dealers everywhere, you don't have to do business wih someone if you don't want to.

posted by Ruthless Bunny at 7:49 AM on April 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I got KBB on my trade-in once. These were the conditions:

1. Trading in a relatively new vehicle I'd bought two years ago from the same dealership
2. Trade-in vehicle was in great shape, and even in used condition was still very popular on the market
3. Was buying a much more expensive vehicle from the dealership
4. Went through the dealership for financing on the new vehicle (the dealership had a 2% financing deal going on that was as good as the financing my credit union would give me)
posted by erst at 8:37 AM on April 20, 2013

Best answer: I bought a new car last year, although I used the Consumer Reports car prices, not Kelly. I highly recommend springing for the Consumer Reports subscription for their service. We got exactly the Consumer Reports trade-in value for our old car (which looks to be slightly more conservative than the Kelly value, by about $500). Here were our circumstances:

1. Trade-in car was 10 years old, about 98.5K miles, from same make as the new one, though different model. We were the only owners, had all maintenance records, and had been pretty scrupulous about regular maintenance on the car. We also gave it a very thorough cleaning before having it assessed for trade-in value.

2. Price for new car was negotiated online (based off the Consumer Reports recommended prices) and agreed upon before even discussing a trade-in.

3. We secured financing from local credit union in advance of negotiation, so as far as the dealer was concerned, we were basically paying cash.

4. Brought the trade-in to be assessed once we were ready to do the final paperwork on the new car purchase. We were offered the exact amount that we wanted, based on the Consumer Reports trade-in value, and so we walked away happy.

Kelly and Consumer Reports both showed that we could have gotten a higher value for a private party sale, but for us personally the work involved in doing that was not worth the extra money. We did, however, have a range for the trade-in value that were were prepared to accept, and were willing to walk away if they offered too low.
posted by DiscourseMarker at 11:02 AM on April 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: The dealer gave me near KBB value for my trade in when I bought a newer used car from them at 3 times that price. I initially tried to negotiate on the already-reasonable price they were asking for the newer car, but they wouldn't go down much on that even though I pretended I was leaving. They had originally offered me a lesser trade in value and they told me it was better for their accounting books to give me a better price on the trade in than to go down on the sale price of the other car. So when they bumped up the trade in value for me to around the KBB (they did not even look at my car, which was scratched and dinged all over) - I took the deal.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 12:39 PM on April 20, 2013

KBB sells a special product to dealers allowing them to search auction prices for your trade in. Even if they were to sell it on their used lot, they will still try to offer you the auction price. Because I've come to the conclusion KBB is not helping me at all, I use Edmunds or NADA as a price guide. If you can find a dealer that uses NADA you're more likely to get a fair deal.
posted by fiercekitten at 2:54 PM on April 20, 2013

Keep in mind that dealers only have a short period of time to sell the car before it gets auctioned off at a rock bottom price so anything that might not sell quick they're not going to take or offer anything more than the auction price for. When we bought our Outback last weekend the dealer offered us about $1.5K less than we might have gotten for our 2010 barebones Camry as a private sale. In our case, our car had a little bit of body damage (a few bumper scrapes, pings), no options, needed tires, and had 50K miles so we knew selling it would take a long time and be a major hassle if we were lucky so we too the trade-in offer. The dealer probably won't be able to move it either but they can handle selling it as a "loss" at auction.
posted by playertobenamedlater at 3:49 PM on April 20, 2013

I don't know how Kelly Blue Book gets their values, but I've always found them to be wildly optimistic. Wikipedia says they get their numbers from looking at retail sales, so they may just be doing some kind of math on the retail value and getting the trade in value.

(Not for nothing, they are owned by Auto Trader, which would make me think they are going to be slightly biased towards encouraging people to sell privately.)

I've always found them to be wildly optimistic. If you are trading in a perfect car that is in demand and the dealer can turn around and sell on their lot for a new, expensive car with lots of profit and are paying full sticker price, you might get their number. Anything less and you won't. Whatever Carmax is offering, that's probably what you should go by. Then you work them over on the price of the new car.

What I will say about KBB is that their new car information was spot-on when I bought my last car.
posted by gjc at 5:34 PM on April 20, 2013

Black Book is the holy grail of dealer used car pricing since its based on real auctions and is updated regularly. It used to be pretty secretive, and you had to be a car dealer to get it, but some credit union car selling service claims to have it on their website. Whether that's the real Black Book or not, I don't know, but the price I got for the last car I sold to Carmax matched the value from that page.
posted by hwyengr at 5:56 PM on April 20, 2013

Response by poster: Thanks everyone for your input. I learned something useful from just about every answer. I marked as "best answer" those who gave their own KBB (or equivalent) experience, since that was the original question.

Just came back from the dealer and bought the car for the Edmunds "True Market Value" price (which was lower than dealer invoice) and got the full KBB value for my trade. It's weird, but I feel like any price acceptable to the dealer must somehow mean it's not as good a deal as it seems.

Some additional details of the transaction for future googlers:

1) Paid cash for the car
2) Trading a 9-year old car in good condition with only 38,200 miles. Almost new tires.
3) Old car was purchased from this same dealer, if that matters.
4) The KBB price was actually $450 lower than the NADA price, about the same as the "clean" Black Book price from cudlautosmart.com, and $2000 higher than the Edmunds trade-in price.
5) New car is a different model than the old one, but not one that was more expensive. I think the new one isn't very popular or in much demand.
6) I had the VIN of the car I wanted, as I picked it from their inventory as listed on the web.
7) I began by telling them what I wanted to pay for the car and what I wanted for the trade. Was out of there in less than 20 minutes.
8) I did not see any special incentives to the dealers from the manufacturer, or anything like that from my researches.
posted by Right On Red at 12:06 PM on April 21, 2013

Nicely done.
posted by jon1270 at 6:14 PM on April 21, 2013

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