How Come 'Blue Book' Pricing Doesn't Seem To Apply To Certain Used Cars?

As Jalopnik’s resident car buying expert and professional car shopper, I get emails. Lots of emails. I’ve decided to pick a few questions and try to help out. This week we are discussing “Blue Book” pricing and used cars, why couples buy two of the same car and an affordable ride for a really tall driver.

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First up, how come certain vehicles are priced well over the “Blue Book” evaluation?

Is there any validity to blue book pricing on used diesel pickups? I’ve been shopping around for a used diesel pickup and noticed that dealer asking prices are thousands of dollars above high blue book. I recently found a nice pickup. It was also priced thousands above high blue book. I decided to make an offer pointing out that my offer was based on blue book pricing noted in the dealers advertisement. I explained I was willing to offer top blue book on the vehicle. At least the dealer was not “insulted”, he responded that “these trucks commonly go for more than blue book.” Instead of a counter offer the dealer said “good luck”.

The vehicle was a Dodge Ram 3500 regular cab diesel pickup with manual transmission and 4 wheel drive. I no longer have the numbers on that one but there is a similar 2500 model that I found. High blue book is $20289 and dealer asking price is $25991. The difference between high blue book and dealer asking price on the 3500 model was even more extreme.

So my question is, what good is blue book pricing for diesel pickups if the blue book price is not even in the ball park?

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For those of you who are not aware, the “Blue Book” pricing the reader is referring to is the price determined by Kelly Blue Book, or KBB for short, guide to pre-owned cars. On their website, KBB will list a range of what a used car should likely sell for, given a certain amount of miles and equipment. For most cars that are fairly common, the KBB number ranges can provide some valuable data on whether or not a car is priced fairly, aggressively, or even overpriced compared to the market.

However, for certain vehicles like specialty sports cars or in this case heavy-duty Dodge Ram diesel pickups with manual gearboxes, the KBB numbers don’t accurately reflect the market. Pricing for these vehicles is more about what someone is willing to pay, rather than what KBB or another third party website says it’s “worth.”

Next up, why do some couples/families purchase two cars for the same task or even two of the identical car?

No car/truck fits all situations. But i have never seen an opinion floated on here that most households are 1car households. So if one spouse has a sedan/SUV why wouldnt it be smart to have the other spouse have a pickup? Why have both vehicles perform the same tasks? Given your expertise of buying vehicles are most households 1 car families? Is there a reason for 2 identical tasked vehicles?

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You would be correct that if a couple or a family has a two-car household, logic would dictate that their choice of vehicles would be different so that each car or truck would be ideally suited to a specific task. An example would be a minivan or SUV for family use and a compact car or sedan for commuting. Having worked with a number of couples/families that were purchasing two vehicles I can tell that some folks do take this into consideration and are more strategic about who buys what car.

However, car buying isn’t often driven by logic and people usually buy what they like. I once took a tally of how many driveways in my old neighborhood had two of the same car. I believe it was around 10 houses out of 30, that was pretty surprising. Though most of the duplicates were often some kind of mid-sized crossover. While this seems strange, folks with kids often need to accomplish the same task of hauling kids around, even if they do so at different times.

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Finally, what is a decently affordable car for someone over 7 feet tall that isn’t a giant SUV?

Help! My 7'1" son is about to graduate college. We’d like to get him a reliable, new-ish car for graduation, but have two issues:

1) Can’t seem to find much that fits him. His older CR-V isn’t cutting it anymore, but other than going with a giant 8-seat SUV, we can’t find much that gets close. He needs lots of leg AND head room. Internet research here has been no help.

2) Our budget isn’t unlimited. We’d like to keep in the $15k ballpark, but can stretch to $17-18k or so if needed.

Decent gas economy would be nice given that he’ll be looking for entry-level jobs in a pandemic, but we know that there have to be tradeoffs somewhere. Also, he’s willing to go funky for the right fit.

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This is a tough one, usually, when you think about cars for taller folks these people are in the six-and-a-half foot range and there are a number of options available. Once you go beyond seven feet, you are a bit outside of the range that most automakers account for. Car And Driver has a handy article about good picks for taller drivers and they provide headroom measurements. I would also say that exploring some of the mid-size, two-row crossovers like the Sante Fe Sport, Murano, and Edge, could be worthwhile as well. The honest truth is that your son is likely going to have to try out a bunch of cars to see what is really comfortable for him since measurements only tell part of the story.

Got a car buying conundrum that you need some assistance with? Email me at tom.mcparland@jalopnik.com!

Tom is a contributing writer for Jalopnik and runs AutomatchConsulting.com. He saves people money and takes the hassle out of buying or leasing a car. (Facebook.com/AutomatchConsulting)

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DISCUSSION

yesidrivea240
Yes I drive a 240... Sort of

Ask anyone that’s been in the import scene for the last 15 years. KBB is the last place you want to look for anything resembling car value. KBB showed a price somewhere around $1500 for an excellent condition 240sx, when the reality was you couldn’t buy one in that condition for less than 5k at the time. I haven’t checked recently but I’m sure the KBB number hasn’t changed much.