Selling any vehicle is a tricky business. You have to find the perfect price point to get interested buyers without selling yourself short. Selling UTVs and ATVs is even more complicated where surface blemishes and mileage are less important than the wear and tear you can’t see. You probably want to turn to Kelley Blue Book’s UTV section to help make sure you’re valuing your side-by-side properly.
But is the good Blue Book as reliable for off-road machines as it is for standard automobiles? Let’s see if this book is blowing smoke.
For those of you not in the know, Kelley Blue Book has become the gold standard for car valuations since 1926. It’s the most commonly referred to price estimation website and is widely used by buyers and sellers alike.
But how does it work? Do they pull prices out of thin air? Is there a car price genius locked away in a cubicle evaluating every vehicle that exists 24/7?
Instead of doing something ridiculous, KBB tracks prices of used cars from a variety of sources including dealers, manufacturers, rental fleets, auctions, and private transactions. They collect all this data on a daily basis, then run it through their proprietary algorithm to give you a single value.
KBB is also one of the only pricing guides that incorporates UTVs and ATVs as well. However, there isn’t nearly as much historical data to draw from for off-road vehicles, and the total number of quads and side-by-sides being sold is a tiny fraction of the number of cars being sold.
So how accurate can the Blue Book of UTV values really be?
There are a number of factors working against UTV Blue Book values regardless of what kind of vehicle you’re selling. These factors include:
These factors can throw off your estimate causing you to price your UTV or ATV too high or too low.
Kelley Blue Book gathers data daily to feed its value algorithm. It’s as up to date as you can hope for, but that doesn’t mean it can process that data instantly.
As trends and economic conditions change, so do the prices that people are willing to pay. If those changes come swiftly, KBB may be way off the mark. Even when changes are gradual, the UTV blue book will lag behind. There’s just no way around it.
It’s not hard to imagine in a worst case scenario. Imagine that news emerges that the chassis on a popular side-by-side breaks as soon as you hit 500 miles. People will start avoiding that vehicle like the plague.
Even less dramatic news like new vehicle announcements with new features can change the value of existing vehicles overnight. Blue Book will take time to catch up to those.
A giant hurdle for UTV and ATV enthusiasts is KBB’s lack of off-road vehicle data to feed their algorithim. The more data, the better the outcome. While they have access to sale prices of millions of car sales and update those every day, the number of side-by-side and quad sales they have access to is far fewer.
It makes sense. Almost every household in America has at least one car. There are thousands, if not tens of thousands, of cars within 10 miles of your house. That equates to a whole lot of buying and selling for KBB to track.
Now how many side-by-sides exist within 10 miles of your house. A hundred maybe? (We probably have a few more than the average here at SuperATV headquarters.)
The point is: KBB doesn’t have as much data and therefore their estimates for off-road vehicles aren’t as accurate, unfortunately.
The X-factor of any transactional relationship comes from human emotions. Humans be humans, and when they’re selling their own vehicle, they tend to think it’s better than it really is. This real phenomenon is called consumer bias.
This bias is amplified in UTVs and ATVs where the wear and tear doesn’t equate to the mileage on the odometer. In fact, KBB doesn’t even look at mileage when determining the value of an off-road vehicle. That’s because 200 miles putting around on a farm is a lot easier than 200 miles of bounty holes.
Instead, they assume it’s “in good condition with typical mileage,” and then look at what that vehicle sells for in your region. Basically, more is left up to the dealer’s or buyer’s perception of your vehicle’s condition than anything else.
If you’re trying to sell your used Polaris Ranger 1000 to your buddy down the street, you’ll be served well by the Blue Book of UTV values. It’ll get you in the ball park and you can negotiate from there.
When it comes to selling to or trading with a dealer, you can run into problems. Dealers have proprietary access to different reports that use different data sets. As a result, you and your dealer might be on a different planet in terms of value. Let’s take a closer look at selling to a dealer.
The short answer is not really. Dealers have their own reports like National Auto Research’s Black Book or the Manheim Market Report among others that are not available for public use. These generally give values that are lower than KBB.
In reality, coming armed with a KBB valuation of your UTV or ATV and nothing else is a recipe for disaster.
It’s a negotiation tool—nothing more. At the very best, you can use it as a range of what to expect from a dealer to make sure you’re not getting grifted. But If you walk in with your KBB estimate without any understanding of your UTV’s condition, you run the risk of getting taken for a ride. And not the good kind either.
When working with a dealer, make an honest appraisal of your machine’s condition, check around to see what other dealers and private sellers are listing their vehicles for, and don’t be afraid to walk away.
Remember, you’ll almost always get more selling it yourself rather than trading it to a dealer.
There are a few hot tips we can send you away with to make sure you’re as prepared as possible. Remember that as soon as you see an estimated value from the UTV Blue Book, it’s outdated. Don’t expect your price to be the same tomorrow. Check it as close to the time you list it as possible.
There are other sources of real world sale prices you can check too. ATV Trader has a nice price checker that looks at all their listings for whatever criteria you give them. They offer the minimum, maximum, and average listing price. The average tends to skew higher than KBB, but it gives you real world listings for whatever region you want—a handy tool to have in your UTV selling toolbelt.
The long and short of it is that the Blue Book of UTV values isn’t gospel, but neither are KBB values for cars. It’s useful for feeling out the market and setting guide posts for your impending sale, but it won’t replace comprehensive vehicle knowledge paired with a silver tongue. Bottom line: know your stuff and be cool. A shrewd salesman gets the price they want.
And if you don’t want to get screwed, you need to read our unofficial guide to selling your machine. It’s definitely worth your time when thousands of dollars are on the line.