Buying or selling a used vehicle can be a very stressful experience. From aggressive salespeople to shrewd potential buyers; it can seem nearly impossible to find an honest offer on either side of the deal. One of the best ways to overcome these problems is to arm yourself with knowledge.
Having an accurate range for your vehicle’s value in your area and in its current condition will make navigating these waters much easier.
There are plenty of great online tools you can use to determine the value of a particular car. We advise turning to multiple sources and comparing the values to get a more accurate representation of the potential price range. Though, there are some people who swear by the accuracy of one source or another and would never turn to an alternative site. The two biggest names in the industry are Edmunds and Kelly Blue Book(KBB).
KBB and Edmunds have both in the business for a very long time. KBB began as an actual blue book published in 1926 and served as the definitive source of guidance when determining the value of a used vehicle. Edmunds came on the scene forty years later in 1966 with its pricing guide books and became a second reliable source of pricing information.
It’s important to note that both of these businesses respect each other’s valuations and they have both published positive statements about the other.
Website Compare: What Kelly Blue Book and Edmunds Offer
Today, both companies have popular websites that are used by buyers, sellers, and automotive traders across the country. Not only do they continue to provide accurate pricing information, but their sites also contain plenty of helpful articles, purchasing guides, and a few other useful features for anyone interested in buying or selling a vehicle. But which of these websites should you choose to rely on?
1. Edmunds Key Features and Benefits
The Edmunds site isn’t exactly “feature-heavy”. Their primary objective has always been providing useful information to buyers and sellers. This is mainly accomplished using their free appraisal tool. This tool can provide an accurate valuation for a used vehicle in under a minute. It doesn’t require signing up or agreeing to any contact with third-party websites. It is incredibly useful if you want to quickly determine the value of a used vehicle you are interested in buying or selling.
Another great source of information for buyers is their section on vehicle reviews. They have become a dominant source of car reviews on the internet. We always advise stopping by the Edmunds website to read a review if you’re interested in a particular vehicle or if you’re trying to determine what vehicle you should purchase next.
Their review section breaks down vehicles into several categories, including:
- Electric vehicles
If you’re trying to determine what your next purchase should be, you can use their ranking pages to determine the best vehicles in any of these categories. For example, if you’re in the market for a new truck, then you visit their truck ranking page and will see that they currently have the Ford F-150 in the top spot followed by the Ram 1500, GMC Sierra 1500, Chevrolet Silverado 1500, and the Nissan Titan. You can then click on the individual vehicles to read their reviews.
Their reviews contain a lot of helpful information, including a “Pros and Cons” section, a list of new features for the particular model, and general pricing guidelines. They give each car an “Edmunds’ Expert Rating” ranging from 1 to 10 on a range of categories. Each of these categories contains an in-depth explanation as to why they received that particular rating.
A few of the categories include:
- How well does it drive?
- How’s the tech?
- How economical is this model?
Finally, the website contains a few car-buying tools you can use to buy or sell a car through their website. The selling tool requires you to provide some information on your vehicle and then provides you with a redeemable cash offer. You have up to 7 days to accept the offer and then bring the vehicle to the designated dealership. It’s a quick and easy way to sell a vehicle without personally negotiating with salespeople.
2. KBB Key Features and Benefits
The KBB website is consistently updated with new features, articles, guides, and reviews. The website has been redesigned multiple times over the last two decades and each time it becomes easier to find the information you’re looking for. It’s no longer a site that is only used for the valuation of used vehicles. It’s now a singular source of information related to buying, selling, and maintaining a vehicle.
First, the website contains some of the same features that you’ll find on the Edmunds website. That includes an appraisal tool and a vehicle review section. Their reviews contain top 10 lists in a variety of categories, new car buyer’s guides, expert review articles, new car news, and a “KBB Awards” section where they hand out annual awards to their favorite vehicles of the year. One advantage of the KBB reviews section is that most vehicles also include dozens of reviews from consumers.
KBB also goes further with the research tools they make available to potential buyers. Some of the tools are fairly generic and may be better sourced from different websites, such as their credit check tool. Others, like the free vehicle history report, are incredibly useful and make visiting the website a must before purchasing a used car.
Many of their research tools are offered through partnerships with third-party websites like AutoCheck and Experian. By contrast, Edmunds’ tools are mostly self-contained and do not require providing any information to third-party sites. If you want to maintain privacy and avoid the potential for spam emails, then you might find the tools at Edmunds more reliable.
The KBB car research tool pools together many different sources of information for whatever make and model that you search for. This includes:
- KBB expert reviews and consumer review
- Specs and features
- Safety information
- Recall information
- Vehicle rankings compared to similar models
- Pricing information
- For Sale information, if the vehicle is being sold through any KBB approved dealerships
Finally, the KBB website has tools that make it possible to buy and sell used vehicles through their website. You can get an instant cash offer for a vehicle that is redeemable at a participating dealership. You can also choose to sell the car yourself by placing an ad through their website. The ad is run on the KBB website as well as Autotrader.
Vehicle Valuation Compare
While both websites are considered hubs of useful information, the heart of their services is their vehicle valuation. If these valuations were considered inaccurate or inconsistent, then consumers would eventually find somewhere else to find their information. Each website takes a slightly different approach to determine values, which is why you can find two slightly different values if you compare the same vehicle on both sites.
1. The Edmunds Approach
The Edmunds Suggested Price, previously known as Edmunds True Market Value, is calculated using a proprietary formula.
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This formula was carefully pieced together with the assistance of many different industry experts and has undoubtedly gone through a few changes over the years. We may not know the specifics of the formula, but we do know some of the main variables that are used when determining value. They include:
- Manufacturer’s suggested retail price
- Average transaction price
- Recent transactions in your local area
- Supply and demand
- Specific incentives and expenses
2. The KBB Approach
KBB also relies on a proprietary algorithm that analyzes hundreds of different data points to paint a more accurate picture. The original pricing documents came from Kelley himself, who would evaluate used cars he personally bought or sold. He recorded those prices and developed a growing archive. Later, he published that archive and shared his information with the public. Today, the algorithm used by KBB is more complex and accurate than ever before. It considers a few key factors like:
- The condition of the vehicle
- Vehicle warranty
- The vehicle’s current popularity
Customer Satisfaction Ratings
Both of these websites are rated very highly by customers and are considered useful sources of information by independent owners and dealerships alike. Though, they have had some trouble in the past with their additional services.
KBB has received some negative reviews from customers for their instant cash offer service. Customers claim that the KBB provides a value but that value is not honored at the dealership when selling the vehicle. This has resulted in a handful of complaints on the Better Business Bureau website. There are also some complaints in regards to Edmunds pushing their car buying service onto customers who were only seeking an appraisal.
These complaints are few and far between. For the most part, customers are happy with both sites and they are considered to be the best in the market. There may be occasional complications with some of their additional services, but their valuations and car buying guides are exceptional.
You Should Use Edmunds If…
- You want a vehicle valuation that accurately reflects local values.
- You want an appraisal in as little as one minute.
- You don’t want to provide any contact information or register at any third-party websites.
- You want valuations that pull from a wider variety of data sources.
- You want to read in-depth car reviews from leading industry experts.
You Should Use KBB If…
- You want to stick with the “Golden Standard” of vehicle valuation since 1926.
- You want to see what other people are paying for the same vehicle.
- You want to list your car for sale on KBB and AutoTrader.
- You want to read dozens of consumer reviews for specific vehicles.
- You want an accurate Fair Purchase Price and Fair Market Price Range.