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Used Car Pricing: How Do You Know if the Price Is Fair?

A lot of thought goes into the process of buying a used car. Of course, there’s reading reviews and taking a test drive. There’s securing financing, assessing the vehicle’s condition and finding a car with the lowest possible odometer reading. But the most important part of buying a pre-owned vehicle is, of course, making sure the price is fair. If you’re not sure how to do that, we’ve provided a few tips to make sure you don’t pay too much.

Kelley Blue Book

Kelley Blue Book isn’t just a book — it’s now an easy-to-use website that helps you determine exactly what to pay for the car you’re interested in buying. Simply go to Kelley Blue Book’s website,, click "What should I pay for a used car?" and follow the site’s prompts. You’ll discover a value based on real-life market data, auction data and similar cars for sale. You can even find out a detailed number based on options and extras, as Kelley Blue Book allows you to select what features are included on the car you’re considering. Find a used car for sale near you

But Just to Be Sure…

If you’re interested in a second opinion once you’ve checked Kelley Blue Book, one of the best places to go is Not to find more cars to purchase, but to look for similar vehicles for sale across the country. For instance: If you’re interested in the only example of a particular car in your market, it may be hard to figure out that vehicle’s value. But if you expand your search to the entire country, you may see dozens of other cars, and those will give you a better idea of what to pay for the car you’re considering. Think of it in the same terms as searching for comparable homes when you’re looking for a house.

Consider Condition

One thing we highly recommend before trying to assess the value of a car is figuring out its condition. That’s because you’ll want to compare listings that are similar, and you’ll want to provide with the best possible information.

To that end, our advice is to test drive a car, and possibly get a mechanical inspection, before negotiating price. That way, if the car needs a few hundred dollars in repairs or reconditioning, you can subtract that amount from the price you’d be willing to pay.

In the end, many aspects of buying a used car can be difficult, but thanks to Kelley Blue Book and listings, finding out what to pay doesn’t need to be one of them.

Related Used Car Buying Articles:

Editor’s Note: This article has been updated for accuracy since it was originally published.


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Doug Demuro
Doug DeMuro writes articles and makes videos, mainly about cars. Doug was born in Denver, Colorado, and received an economics degree from Emory University in Atlanta. After graduation, Doug spent three years working for Porsche Cars North America. Eventually, he quit his job to become a writer, largely because it meant that he no longer had to wear pants. Doug’s work has been featured in a multitude of magazine publications and websites, including here at Autotrader — where he launched the Oversteer enthusiast blog — along with Jalopnik, GQ, and The Week. His YouTube channel has hundreds of published videos and has racked up hundreds of millions of views. Today, Doug lives in San Diego, California, with his 1997 Land Rover Defender 90 NAS, 2005 Ford GT, and 2012 Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG Wagon.

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