Kelley Blue Book and NADA Guides have emerged as the top resources allowing consumers to check a vehicle's value quickly and easily, and in many cases, for free. Year, make, model, mileage and condition all go into determining a car's value, which varies from one geographical area to the next.
While several online sources offer used car value estimators online, these two stand above the rest as they offer the most comprehensive information and are most-often used in both used-car dealer and private party sales.
Kelley Blue Book serves as the primary resource that consumers use when selling used cars between private parties. A car's "Blue Book Value" covers two price ranges: one is for dealer sales, while the other covers transactions between individuals. Each price range covers a spectrum of estimated values based on a model year's mileage and condition. A car only holds the value that a buyer is willing to pay for it, but Blue Book Value represents a good target for negotiations.
For trade-in values and prices on used cars offered for sale at dealerships, NADA Guides has gradually earned a position as the most trusted resource that makes its information available to the general public. The online and paper publication covers a broader range of model years than found at Kelley, generally providing more-exact pricing.
For rare, classic and modified cars, these sources may not give a value at all or may give price ranges that do not represent the parts and labor that went into modifying or accessorizing a vehicle. In these cases, sellers may want to check with online classifieds, such as Craigslist, or on enthusiast Web forums specific to a make and model.