By on February 7, 2011

According to TrueCar’s newly-launched Clearbook site, I did… a little. If you want to make sure you don’t overpay for your next car, you should consider making Clearbook one of the stops on your pre-purchase web-research tour. The site analyzes over 3.6m nation-wide listings and shows, by model and location, what the car you’re looking for sells for on average… a valuable tool, provided you already know what car you’re looking for. If you don’t know what you want the next addition to your garage to be, TTAC recommends you contact our own car-buying gurus Sajeev Mehta and Steve Lang, who lend their expertise to our readers every Tuesday and Thursday in their advice column “New or Used?” Whatever you do, do not just crack open a beer and start surfing Craigslist… you will definitely regret it. Remember, information is power!

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23 Comments on “Did You Pay Too Much For Your Used Car?...”


  • avatar
    OldandSlow

    Ed – that was fun. One question, is the Clearbook weighted towards retail sales versus private party?   I ask because, after going through the steps and typing in the mileage, my 03 Tribute that I purchased last summer below the market low price.

  • avatar
    supremebrougham

    Interesting. It told me that people up here in the corner of nowhere are a bunch of greedy cheapskates. I have my HHR priced perfectly according to it, yet no one wants it, and the two that have called on it in the last six months complained that I was overpriced! I’m not giving it away…
     
    And on the other hand, the site showed me that all the CUV’s around here are waaay overpriced!

  • avatar
    SherbornSean

    Yeah, those are retail prices – they all look $2-3K high.

    Cool site nonetheless.

  • avatar
    sco

    was going to say those prices look a bit high based on what you can get even at dealers selling on ebay not to mention private parties on craigslist.  Based on Clearbook I totally stole my 2006 Xb (I did, but not to the extent they said I did). Ed, if you overpaid a little you maybe overpaid a lot.

  • avatar
    Alwaysinthecar

    I tried it several days ago with a new car price and it gave me completely wrong option pricing.  The manufacturers MSRP with picked options was $1500 different than TrueCar’s MSRP.
    But still good to have these tools along with car forums that list invoice pricing and current deals, etc..

  • avatar
    Wally Vance

    I tried it with my ’04 SRX and it was about $3500 more than the best trade in offer i had.

    • 0 avatar
      Fugue

      It doesn’t quite trade in values (at least as far as I can figure out), but private party values.
       
      The gap between trade-in and private party value could be in the neighborhood of $3500.

  • avatar
    Fugue

    I used my current rig as an example since I happen to be selling it. KBB has me priced out at $4100. I have had it priced at $4500 and the phone has been ringing off the hook, making me think I maybe should raise the price.
     
    According to Clearbook, the actual value of my car in clean, low mileage condition is between $4600-5100 which confirms my suspicion.
     
    Then again, I do live in the pacific northwest and clean vehicles tend to command higher prices here compared to other parts of the country… an interesting website regardless.
     

  • avatar
    eggsalad

    They are certainly getting bad data somewhere. I looked at my 2005 Scion xB with 40k. I find it hard to believe that at the high end, someone is asking $23,439 for something that cost under $15k new.
     
    Further, I will happily take the average list of $10.7k, as I paid $11.5k 1 1/2 years and 18k miles ago.
     
    One big issue is that they use *asking* price, as opposed to *selling* price.

  • avatar
    Steven Lang

    Interesting system. But I see this more as an ‘asking price’ system, and yes there are better ones out there.
     
    Best: Manheim Market Report. The absolute best representation of wholesale prices.
    2nd Best: Edmunds. They do a relatively good job with retail valuations.
    Worst: Kelly Blue Book. Historically they overprice late model vehicles (which is why Carmax used them for so long) and under-price older vehicles (10 year old minivans with decent miles are not even available in the wholesale markets for $1200)
     
     

    • 0 avatar
      johnxyz

      Hi S.L. – Are you familiar w/. the Hearst Media Blackbook that another poster referenced?  Accurate?

      I find that Carsdirect and VMRIntl publish more realistic used car prices than KBB or Edmunds (inflated and play into the dealers).  NADA isn’t too bad.  But the real wholesale prices only seem to be available to the trade (you) with subscriptions to Manheim and Galves (I’m in the Northeast).

       

  • avatar
    findude

    I think they are a bit high just like kbb, edmunds, nada, and manheim. My theory is that these enterprises are serving their paying customers (dealers as far as I can tell since they all click through to lists of vehicles on the market near your ZIP Code) and not guys like me. Nonetheless I like the data presentation on this web site.
     
    I use all of these when I’m buying a used car, but I usually figure I’ll pay about 15% less than their figures. When selling a car I get everything ready and then get a carmax “offer” which is good for 7 days. Then I try to sell the car at about the carmax offer plus 75% of the difference between that offer and what they are listing similar cars for. Towards the end of the 7 days I drop my price to about $300 over the carmax offer since anything less than that is not worth the additional hassle of a private sale (in VA the main hassle is convincing a private buyer that, no, he can’t have my license plates). Of course, sellers who are not in a large metro area with lots of used car inventory and 2 carmax dealers within 20 miles of home may need different strategies.
     
     

  • avatar

    Hi all,
    I’m one of the PR guys for TrueCar.com and Clearbook.com. I wanted to give you a quick update on Clearbook. Currently, Clearbook analyzes millions of listings online to help buyers and sellers know what the distribution of listing prices are, nationally and in your area.  It’s important if you’re looking to sell your car and know how to price your vehicle.
    Our hope is, by the end of the quarter, we’d like to add transaction prices to the report, so in addition to know what the “retail” price might be — and retail is both dealer and private party — we’ll provide you with what the average transaction price is, or what average selling price is.  So then you’ll know what the average price asked was and the average price sold was. Right now, we show retail, which is why the price might seem higher than it should. We will also be adding trade-in value by the middle of the year.
    We hope this will help consumers and dealers to help price the cars better, but also improve the car buying experience, so you’re not stuck at dealerships negotiating for long periods of time.
    If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us at pr@truecar.com.
    Thanks,
    Chintan
    TrueCar.com

  • avatar

    I like this site, because it told me I paid about $2,000 under market for both the used vehicles I just bought (fully reconditioned from new-car dealers.) I think the values of gas-hungry SUVs have dropped lately due to worries about fuel prices, and Ford Five Hundred never seems to be worth anything.

  • avatar
    Jonathan I. Locker

    My credit union allows me access to the Hearst Media Black book.  Why is this good?  They use it to decide how much money to lend you to buy the car.  It has been very good to me for pricing automobile to buy and to sell.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    Right on the mark with my 09 Sedona that I got last year, even corrected for additional mileage.

  • avatar
    Robstar

    Hm, my 2000 plymouth neon in “fair” condition with 196500 miles should be between $2100 & $3500.  I’d be surprised if I got anywhere over $1k for it.
     
    My 2005 STi with 39k miles is about $22,000?  I’d be surprised if I got over $19.  Prices look a bit high…

  • avatar
    Zackman

    I researched my 2007 Miata that we bought last May, and we still paid less than what it researches for now, so yeah, their prices are too high, but I’m sure, according to the comment above, that will be rectified in the coming months. Just another tool to enable you to do the very best you can in buying and selling cars.

  • avatar
    TEXN3

    Interesting, and very cool.

    I bought my 1998 3.2TL for $4300 and have only put $300 in it since September. It’s in great condition, and the low-range for such a vehicle is $4400, mid-range is $5200.

  • avatar
    philadlj

    Nifty little app.

    The price I paid for my car is near the high end ($6k), but I keep in mind the car in question 1998 and I bought it in 2006, when it was only eight years old. Buying an eight-year-old car today would mean buying a 2003 ~ the average list price nearly doubles.

    Craigslist can become an addiction. So many interesting vehicles for sale in the Delaware Valley…so much sketch…

  • avatar
    grzydj

    That 5 minute flash intro is kind of annoying. I think I did alright on my purchase. It’s saying that the low on my 1996 Subaru Legacy is $2900 and high is $3700, even with 172k miles on it. I paid a grand for it and rebuilt the engine and put some new brakes and struts on it. I could probably flip it and make a few hundred bucks on the deal, but I really like the car a lot, so I think I’ll keep it.


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