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  • Nicholas Hinrichsen

Black Book Car Value

When buying or selling a used vehicle from a dealer, knowing your vehicle’s black book value can help you secure a better deal and, ultimately, save you time and money. Black Book values represent an estimated wholesale value that the dealers use when pricing their vehicles to ensure they make a profit. Knowing what the car dealers will ask or offer for a used vehicle can protect you in the process and help in negotiation from either a consumer or seller standpoint.


This article will be addressing and answering the following faqs:

This article will walk you through everything you need to know about Black Book including what data is included, the differences between valuations on Black Book and Kelley Blue Book and where to find Black Book pricing.



What is Black Book?


Black Book is an automotive industry resource that aids dealerships and financial institutions in making profitable automobile lending, purchasing and selling decisions by providing pricing data. It can be found in both print magazine and digital subscription.

Black Book is what dealers and lenders typically use to look up pricing information on new and used vehicles. It is an automotive valuation resource that uses proprietary knowledge to pool historical and peripheral data points about a vehicle to determine its wholesale price and market value.


Dealers use Black Book to figure out how much to sell used vehicles for and to compute how much to offer for used vehicles as well. In other words, dealers use Black Book software to find price points that rear them the most profit.


Black Book is essential to dealerships for not only being the backbones of sales prices, but for also providing loan values for finance purposes. In addition, Black Book provides the dealerships with the most up-to-date prices as the Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) and Dealer’s Invoice are updated automatically each week. If you’re wondering how the dealers come up with the sales price of their thousands of cars or how they calculated their trade in offer for your old vehicle, they used Black Book.


What data does Black Book show?


Black Book provides dealers with three integral values: vehicle valuations, Black Book API and visual analytics. Each of these three values help dealers make pricing decisions that ensure the most profit.


Vehicle Valuations


Vehicle Valuations are the most popular feature for dealers and they can access the price book online, in the app or in print. What makes this feature so useful for dealers is that each valuation is adjusted for historical data of each car. For example, the price will adjust for previous accidents, account for past owners and other historical data. The history adjusted valuations are key because it shows that Black Book reflects the fact that no two vehicles are the same and, therefore, should not be priced the same.


Black Book API


Black Book provides dealers with an API (Application Programming Interface) to integrate their data points with dealer software. The Black Book API allows access to the following data points outlined by Vincue:

  • Wholesale values – (four conditions) extra clean, clean, average, rough.

  • Trade-in values – (three conditions) clean, average, rough.

  • Retail values – (four conditions) extra clean, clean, average, rough.

  • History Adjusted Valuations – an adjustment made for events present on the Experian AutoCheck® report

  • Wholesale, Trade-In, and Retail values – (Available for US only)

  • Private Party values – (three conditions) clean, average, rough. (Available for US only)

  • Residual values – 1 to 72 month residual values. (For Canada, only selected months are available)

  • Finance advance value – market driven value for loan originations

  • Specification PDF – Provides options and equipment that were available on the vehicle when it was new. (Available for US only)

  • Colors – a list by category of interior and exterior colors.

  • Standard equipment – a list by category of equipment, for example: dimensions.

  • Lookup by Chrome ID – Use a Chrome Style ID and option codes to retrieve vehicle values. (Available for US only)

  • VIN Decoding

  • New Vehicle Pricing Valuations

Visual Analytics


Black Book provides an option to access visual analytics through subscription. Visual analytics showcase future predictions and outline market trends to give the dealership an upperhand in a competitive market. Capabilities of the visual analytics feature provided by Vincue include:

  • Detailed Segment and Model Analysis to Understand Market Trends

  • Fine Tune Loss Forecasting

  • Identify New and Emerging Opportunities

  • Recognize & Forecast Depreciation Trends

  • Vehicle Segment Model Explorer

What is the difference between Black Book and Kelley Blue Book Values?


Dealers often throw around the two terms “Black Book price” and “Blue Book Price” when referring to sales price and offers for vehicles, but what exactly is the difference?


The biggest difference between these two tools is that kbb.com is intended for consumer use, while BB is more geared towards dealers. KBB allows car shoppers to get a good estimate on their car's value and what it might sell for, while BB is a tool that dealers use to determine how much a used car or trade in is worth. Oftentimes, the KBB price is not a final price, but a starting point for negotiations.


Another major difference between Black Book and Kelley Blue Book is price. KBB offers a free version, while BB subscriptions range from about $300 per year to $700 per year. Prices and different types of subscriptions can be found on Black Book’s website here.


Which one is better?


The answer to the question above is that it depends if you are the dealer or the consumer, however knowing both values can give you the upper hand in negotiations. Imagine going to the dealer to buy a used car or trade in one and knowing what they know.

Black Book is considered to be a more accurate valuation of a vehicle as it accounts for a range of historical data like past and current economic trends, factors that affect depreciation, auction prices and manufacturer design changes. This resource can draw customers away due to their high price point, but they do offer no commitment monthly subscriptions. There are some drawbacks of Black Book for the consumer. Drawbacks include:

  • It does not consider reviews and ratings in the valuation process

  • The overwhelming amount of data tends to confuse consumers

  • High in price

Where can I find Black Book?


You can find Black Book valuations online at their website blackbook.com, install their mobile app or subscribe to their print magazine.


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