Cars, Personal Finance 

Dealers Use Black Book Pricing Information

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So you go into a dealership armed with the Kelley Blue Book value of a car thinking you have all the information? Wrong. Dealers use the prices listed in the Black Books published by the National Auto Research (NAR) Division of Hearst Business Media Corporation, located in Gainsville FL, and those prices are usually under those of the trusty KBB. These Black Books have weekly, monthly, bimonthly, and annual editions and they’re seen as the most accurate price guides in the entire auto industry. They contains the real information you need when you want to talk to a dealer on an even playing field.

Short of subscribing to the Black Book site itself (it’s meant for dealers, not shoppers…), I’m not sure where else you can get that sort of pricing information. Granted, it’s only one other price point but I think it’s important to know and understand that dealers are using a number other than the one you may think they are.

{ 38 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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38 Responses to “Dealers Use Black Book Pricing Information”

  1. Sean says:

    If the Black Book were the “most accurate…” price guide, then the figures would be available to people outside the industry too. The fact that they are not available to consumers denotes that it is intended only to increase profit spread to the dealer, not assist consumers in accurate pricing. Kelly Blue Book tells you what you can reasonably expect for your trade, what you can sell it outright for, and what someone else would pay the dealer for it. It gives everyone an even playing field as far as dealer profit and consumer savings.

    • mike says:

      you are full of it. if you want to get the best price..buying..or selling..get a friend who has the weekly black book…get the price of the car you want to buy or sell..and give the dealer a reasonable profit. 500 to 1,000 dollars based on how bad you want to buy and how bad you think he wants to sell.

      this is the only way to buy or sell a used car.

      what you learn from the black what a dealer has in a used car. and you will learn what a wholesaler will give him for your car. the price you will come up with, will often be thousands less than what you thought was a “good deal”. make him the offer. accept no negotiation. go home if you have to. that dealer..will call you back. because..500 to 1000 better than no profit..and these guys want inventory off their lot!

  2. david says:

    In response to Sean,
    Actually, yes you can access black book via internet. Your just a typical consumer that doesn’t want to face the realilty that cars don’t hold their value that strong. KBB is an excellent “guideline” for consumers, but they aren’t at the auctions day in and day out buying and selling. If KBB is so great why don’t they have a “Print Check” icon on the top right of the screen? A car is only worth what people want to pay for it.

    • Anonymous says:

      If the dealer uses the black book to value trade ins, then he should use the black book when pricing his cars. But no, they pull out the KKB when doing that. Thats why people do not like to do business with car dealers.

      • ted says:

        So how do you think car dealers pay their employees? Out of profits of course…No dealer could stay in business offering blackbook prices..

        • Dealers are Thieves says:

          That is why dealerships should be eliminated entirely. Consumers should customize and purchase their vehicles directly on-line from the manufacturers. I’d be willing to wait a few weeks or month for delivery to save thousands on a vehicle. It may raise the unemployment rate short-term but it will encourage these high-school educated “car salesmen” to aspire to be something more than just a swindler.

  3. Sam M says:


    If they buy cars at Black Book Pricing and sell them at the same price, do you see profit there? NO. Dealers are just like any other business, TO MAKE PROFIT you idiot

    • ChiChi says:

      There IS a difference in the KBB trade in and dealer sales price, as well as in the black book. THERE is the profit they should expect to make….Look at the shape the dealers are in, big auto makers did NOTHING with the huge profits they were making except pay the big dogs of the co. I am sure that wealth was not spread among all the workers they laid off. All the corporate heads still have thier jobs, and thier exorbitant salaries and thier “titles”. I agree that all should be a level playing field especially during these times. Hell, we are all going to end up going back to a barter system before it is all over if it keeps going the way that it is. Jeesh.

    • Your daddy says:

      Wow an idiot calling an idiot an idiot. Can’t even spell ANYNYMOUS…. WHAT A MORON……

    • Get the facts says:

      So your saying the dealer will not make a profit to pay his employees if he buys via Black Book and sells via Black Book? Are you kidding me? The minute you go on the dealer lot they are making money. You left out all the best profits for the dealer: the maintenance program ,the long term warranty(how many people buy this 3 to 5 years early before the manufacture’s warranty runs out? Do you pay anything else 3 to 5 years in advance? , the GAP insurance , and the biggest profit of all, long term interest charges. Oh the state gets their sales taxes of 6%. So who is the idiot here?

  4. Mac says:

    WOW! Black Book is what DEALERS use to give them a market value of what your car could bring in a auction IF they can’t sell it on thier lot. The dealer will risk their money to take your junk as a trade in and try to sell it. If you really think your car is worth more, then you need to put the money into it and fix, advertise it, show it to the odd and strange people that show up at your home and then collect the money after buyer has jewed you down. Bunch of uneducated idiot’s!

  5. Chris says:

    I think the dealers should make a profit but not an outrageous one. I think that the black book should be available to the public so consumers have a guide to go by to insure that the dealer is being honest and fair as far as price is concerned. I am currently selling my car my self and it would be nice to have another guide to go by to insure my car is priced correctly. A side note. Barging is great but be judicious and reasonable when doing it. For example I am selling my car for $5000 and came down to $4500, I’m in no hurry to sell it so if you offer me $1000 there is not going to be a deal. Not only that but it’s RUDE! I am willing to bargain but not get ripped off.

  6. Charlie says:

    Please understand the BLACKBOOK is only an attempt to replace the Galves book they use that values your car at least $2000 under its trade-in value. The ONLY publication that is in the hand of every dealer at every auction is the yellow NADA book (North American Dealers Association). Every other publication is just an attempt to undervalue your trade.

  7. mike says:

    As a retired dealer salesperson and appraiser I will tell all that KBB is not the dealers guidline, they use the black book to appraise cars and price by NADA pricing retail guide. The black is an average of aution pricing and the dealers have to be careful when appriasing a vehicle. How many consumers are 100%truthful about the condition of their vehicle when bringing it in to trade. I have had people represent vehicles as clean titled only to find out that there was a salvage title after the deal was signed and vehicle delivered, consumer dropped off the title and it was a salvage title. The bank won’t even loan money on a salvage vehicle and the dealership was out several thousand dollars on that one deal alone. Use NADA price guides and u will be close on actual retail pricing, these are the guides the banks use to determine loan values.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Not enough to screw people on bluebook. Now we have black book robbery.

  9. newbuyer says:

    The dishonest step of using the black book occurs when the banks or lending institutions tell you to use kelly blue book, and the dealer website has a link that says “value your trade” and provides a link to KBB estimate calculators, this indicates that the dealer accepts KBB pricing, but when you come in, they don’t even look at your KBB price evaluation, they go straight to the black book which is auction pricing, not trade in pricing. We as consumers are already not getting “retail value” we are taking a major discount by clicking trade value. Then the dealer cheats and offers wholesale value, not trade value that they themselves have advertised as the correct way to value a trade. Its deceptive advertising, and I wouldn’t be surprised if someone took them to court they could probably make a case that the dealer should accept KBB or not advertise that we should use it.

  10. Kenny says:

    Where can you get the Black book?

  11. Daniel says:

    Black Book is purchased from their website; however, you have to prove you are affiliated with the industry, as they only deal with car dealerships. There is a HUGE difference between the physical Black Book, and the Black Book “online”. There are 4 values according to Black Book..X-cln, Cln, Avg, Rgh. The “black book online” that people see on car websites, will never give more than the Avg, so if the car is cln or X-cln, the dealer makes a profit off that. If you think your car is worth what Kelley says, ask Kelley to write you a check for that amount… while Black Book won’t write you a check for their amount either, they are getting their numbers directly from the region you’re in..specifically, the auctions, more specifically Manheim..which is the big daddy, whereas Adessa is the very little brother.

  12. Daniel says:

    One last point, as it was slightly foggy when i wrote it. The Black Book used in a specific state is different from the Black Book used in other states. There are individual “state” editions of Black Book weekly. So, there is a Black Book Florida edition. Also, there is no 1 black book either, there’s numerous “black books”. A truck/van/suv guide, which is NOT state based, but regionally based. A monthly book used by financial lenders, it includes retail/wholesale..but NOT xcln values. Then, there’s the weekly car guide. At the end of the day, dealerships use two things.. Black Book and Maheim Market Reports. MMR is unique in that it can “predict” the future value of a car. Honestly, if you can sneak a way to get Black Book, the numbers will be similar as Black Book values are mostly taken from MMR’s and some from Adessa.

  13. jimmy Bean says:

    Okay I have reviewed the blackbook and found it to be trash. I have understand their goal and they need to understand my goal. They are there to make money for the dealership and I am there to get the best deal. But we can never meet in the middle.

  14. Bryon says:

    The dealers that use the Black Book at auctions are paying more than what NADA average trade says it’s worth. Most of them don’t even look the vehicle over very well and have no mechanical ability at all to know if it has any problems. If you use a Black Book and pay what it says is clean or extra clean wholesale value…guess what…you just paid what NADA has for a retail value. I am a used car dealer with a small lot, and go to 5 to 6 auctions a week. I use NADA so I don’t pay to much for the vehicle. Every day I got to an auction I see dealers paying more for a vehicle than what I have sold them for to a retail customer. Every vehicle on my lot is priced well below NADA retail value. Most of the time if you look up your vehicle and compare NADA to KBB, the value is greater on KBB. The biggest thing you have to watch out for is the interest rate they charge you and all their extra fees. Check with your bank or credit union first to see what kind of rate you can get and take it to a mechanic you trust to look it over before you buy it.

  15. Tom says:

    I decided to sell my one owner fully loaded BMW 330xi. so I called up my friend who lives in a different state and has a dealer licence. I live in D.C. area

    According to auction data, last week cars similar to mine with higher milage were selling for around 20,000, country wide.

    Blue book trade in value for a car in good condition at that time was $22,000. NADA – $21,500

    I visited several dealerships. All of them used Black Book to appraise my car. Non of them offered me more than $16,000. $4000 less below wholesale value.

    Also, only one of them had 330xi in stock. It had less options and higher milage than mine. Sticker price on that car was above $25,000 (same as KBB value). I know it is a retail price, but the dealer is not goin to take more than $2000 off it.

    They’ll spend about $500 maximum to prepare my car for sale (if they will do everything right. In area where I leave almost nobody does). For smart guys who will argue this number – I know common steps of prep work and how much it cost to the dealership to prepare a car that does not need any mechanical or body repair. Mine was fully serviced and professionaly detailed 2 days before I started selling it. It did not need any mechanical atention.

    Do the numbers and you’ll see that in worst case for a dealer, they would be making $6,500 profit of $23,000 car. It is more than %30. I am sure they will cover interst cost by adding some “prep and delivery” fee and such.

    As somebody already said here, KBB, Edmunds, NADA were created as a reference for both, to a consumer and to a dealer. The Black Book, on other hand, is created to only maximize dealers profit only.

    Before they came up with a black book, in D.C. area a general manager at a luxury car dealership on average was making $400,000 – $600,000 a year

    Greed is a very destructive thing that adventualy brings huge demage to a business and to the country as whole. We are experiencing example of it right now.

    • Johnny2tone says:

      $4,000 under & $4,000 over = $8,000 typical spread where I live. Dealers are entitled to profit, but if they would quit their stupid remarks and “free floor mat” tactics, I dont mind giving it to them as they are are in biz for profit and do not need to apologize for such – Just dont earn it all on 1 deal.

      I had a guy (after I fully decided to purchase a dodge minivan in 2000) tell me “yeah, it’s the sport – its got the Viper front end”. I almost walked right then but needed the van….

  16. ozzy says:

    Hey tom ^. I understand your gripe, I deal with cars but not as a licensed dealer. As far as what I have come to know, Black Book projects what the car will be worth in 12-36 months. Dealers must account for the asset sitting on the lot with money tied up. That is the only way I could understand such a price discrepancy of $4000. Thats like 20%+ off. It doesn’t make sense. I am almost ready to move to next level and become a dealer. What scares me the most, is hardening my heart.

  17. Weareallnuts says:

    I am positive that dealers never leave used cars on there lots for more than 60 days. They want people to see that they rare having a big turn over. The manufactures are always lowering prices to the Dealers so they will lower prices to the customers. The dealer again as in most will take the money in parts and turn around and sell them at a big profit which is maybe 100% and more than what the money would have been. I was at a dealer to buy a car. Started out with 3000 trade allowance. NO WAY OK we settled on 5000 which was not what I had started out at but it was a compromise. He is off to get some figures as far as payments interest was 1.9% or 1000 cash. I had already been to my credit Union and there rates was 1.9% also. I made a mistake I said for get about Using your bank I’ll take the 1000 I have the same rate at my bank. When he comes back now I now have a 4200 allowance for my car. Then there was a fee to make more profit of $900 for prep and documentation and there is a sales tax on the $900. Car started at 30,900 less trade 1000 then tax and title there extras it now was costing as much as it was when I started out. I was so PISSED I walked out I don’t need a new car that bad. I felt like I was flying on an airplane being nicked and dimmed everywhere they can. I have no problem with them making money. SOMEHOW somebody forgot that sales man are paid commission not by the hour. I am sorry I spent 6 hours with the sales men to walk out on him. I think my time is valuable also.

  18. Anonymous says:

    It wasn’t like that at one time. They used to give the KBB value for a trade in.

  19. Lee says:

    They don’t even get close to Black Book. Black Book on my truck is 46k as it sits in pristine condition with all of 13k miles on it KBB is 48k. The dealers are offering me 37 to 38k for the truck. It is all one huge rip-off, that is why I despise car dealers, most are liars crooks and cheats.

  20. MK says:

    A “new” trick….I was at a dealer Saturday. They checked my trade…wrote up a deal…MSRP – trade – rebate = xxx

    I asked “where is the discount on the new vehicle”?

    Oh, its in the trade…They showed me auction numbers and Black Book. Black Book showed my vehicle worth 6800. I went home, got on line, found website that linked directly to black book..punched in my vehicle stats…result? $10,000. I went to KBB, $11500 ( good condition)…oh and they didnt even drive my vehicle to check it out, like they used to.

    People are tired of the games. Paying under wholesale ( or even wholesale) and selling full retail? Thats why GM needed Government money bailout. People will just keep their cars 10 years now….then go and by used from person, not dealer. Saves 10″s of thousands over a lifetime.

  21. trae says:

    KBB and NADA are retail price guides for the public. Black book is an auction price guide. You can spend all the money to get your dealer license and start a business, then you will have access to the dealer only auction. A dealer compares your trade to what they can buy it for at auction price. This is how they make a profit and stay in business. When did profit become such a bad thing? Do you think grocery and other retailers sell stuff for what they have in it? Come on…. As long as the price is fair, and the customer does his homework to see if the deal is acceptable to him, then everybody wins!

  22. Jeff K says:

    Blackbook=average auction prices derived mostly from Manheim, this is what dealers buy the vehicles for. NADA, and
    KBB are RETAIL books, this is what you can expect to pay,,,,is it really that difficult to understand

    • WTF says:


      Bro, the concept isn’t difficult to understand. The fact that KBB already has a trade-in value listed and car dealers don’t accept it is difficult to understand. KBB is good enough to justify sticker prices but not trade-in? The auction price is NOT a trade in price it is an auction price.

      The same reasoning as to why I don’t ask the dealer why he isn’t charging me private party price off of KBB (because he is a dealer and NOT private party). The dealer shouldn’t ask me (a person bringing in a car for trade in) the auction price (I am not an auctioneer, I am “trading in” my car).

      Why is this so difficult to understand? I don’t think anyone here is saying that dealers shouldn’t make money or profit. They shouldn’t try to f–k people over on trade-ins. Very simple really.

      • Dont dig the price, go elsewhere! says:

        Why would a dealer pay someone more for their car than the price they can get the same car at auction. If i can get a car at auction for 10k im not paying more than that for someones car just because they brought it to me. If people want full value for their used car then they should sell the damn thing themselves and deal with the headaches and crap that goes with selling a car. Why bother with trade in? Sell the car full price private party value (or at least try to….) then bring your earnings from that to the dealer and use for down payment, or what have you. Broker your own “trade in” if you will. A cars only worth what someones willing to give you. I dont like dealer prices or tactics….so i shop elsewhere. Its america guys, shop anywhere you want, but dont gripe about getting a raw deal if youre too lazy to put in the work yourself for a better deal.

      • Dont dig the price, go elsewhere! says:

        Brahhhhh, then dont buy from a deal brahhhh. God whats so hard to get about that? If you dont like slimy ised car dealer tactics do the work yourself….problem solved. Bro.

  23. Dealer Tech says:

    I work at a dealership as a mechanic. We had a used SUV come through the shop that I wanted. I figured it would be easy. KBB trade-in was listed $2700 under what my car was worth on trade in, but the SUV came from auction. They offered me $4500 less than KBB trade for my car, and wanted me to pay full retail-$5000 over trade-in!!!!

    Dealers will hose their employees when they can.

  24. confused says:

    kbb blook value of my edge (2008 SE) is about $ 11.5K. Just got a letter from a dealership offering me a black book value of 15.5K (clean condition value). Is this even worth checking out??????

  25. RUKIDDING says:

    Well there are so many ways that a dealer pays his help and the biggest is thru repairs do. Then when they r to be repaid by the (this is for warranty work) Company. Guess what instead of money they take it in parts that they use all the time. They get them for a deep discount then they use them on the auto’s they fix (this is at a healthy mark up). They are again reimbursed for advertisements. Parts and other things. That they can sell to the customer.
    I took my Audi to the dealer for a new power sterring pump. The labor was like 4 hours. I asked them why Its all right there on top. The flat rate book says the front has to come off. I told them that was BS. You can take the Belt off and the fan right from the top of the front of the engin. I had never worked on an Audi before but had done many things in the engin repair work. I took the pump went home and replaced it in less than 1 hour and primed the pump. People that do not know anything about dealers Are also who are paying for the pay roll.

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