When it's time to rid yourself of your old car and swap it for something newer, the first step in the process is figuring out how much it's worth. The automotive industry is a finicky one that makes it difficult to determine a car’s value, which is why vehicle valuation tools have become, well, invaluable. 

One of the most popular valuation tools is Canadian Black Book (CBB). While it's no longer an actual book — it now lives online — Canadian Black Book remains a leader in the world of automotive pricing. CBB analyzes historic and transactional sales data at the provincial level to provide the most accurate vehicle values to buyers, sellers and dealers. 

In this guide, we'll shine a spotlight on Canadian Black Book, outlining what it is, how it works, and more. 

What Is Canadian Black Book?

Black Book dates back to its U.S. debut in the state of Georgia when three businessmen pooled notes from auto auctions to release a weekly publication for dealerships. Canada got its version when William Ward debuted Black Book’s Canadian sister publication, Canadian Black Book. 

Canadian Black Book is now an online publication and a trusted source for new and used vehicle valuation, custom data licensing solutions, and lender origination and risk analysis. 

For private car and truck buyers, Canadian Black Book primarily serves as a way to determine their car’s trade-in value or if the vehicle price they're about to pay is a good deal or overpriced. Canadian Black Book develops its values by analyzing nationwide auction and online sales data.

Canadian Black Book: Illustration of a white SUV with money in the background

How Do You Use Canadian Black Book?

Canadian Black Book has loads of features, including an equity calculator, blog, awards, and various business solutions, but its primary use is to determine car values. 

To determine a car's value, navigate to Canadian Black Book homepage and follow these instructions: 

  1. Click "Value Your Car" at the top of the page.
  2. Click on the vehicle make.
  3. Scroll down, find the vehicle's model, and click "Get More Details."
  4. Click the value you'd like to obtain. "Get Average Asking Price" will show you the vehicle's average list price. "Get Trade-In Value" will show you the high and low trade-in value you can expect for your vehicle. "Get Future Value" will show you the projected future value of the vehicle based on annual kilometers driven. 
  5. Answer all the questions about the vehicle as prompted, including postal code, model year, odometer reading, trim level, body type, options, and colour.
  6. Select the year, make, and model of the vehicle you hope to purchase to replace this vehicle or choose "Undecided" and click "Next" to receive your car's value.

Is Canadian Black Book the Only Vehicle Pricing Tool You Need?

Canadian Black Book is a great resource when buying or selling a used car, but it's not the definitive answer in pricing. Here are a few things that may impact vehicle value that Canadian Black Book doesn't account for. 

Vehicle Condition

Nowhere in the valuation process does Canadian Black Book ask about the vehicle's condition, as it automatically assumes it’s in average condition. If your vehicle is in like-new condition, it may be worth even more. The exact opposite is true if the vehicle is in poor condition. 

Additionally, if it has a salvage or rebuilt title, Canadian Black Book can’t give the vehicle a proper valuation. These vehicles generally require human inspection and valuation. 

Customization

Vehicle customization can significantly impact the value of a vehicle, but it's not always positive. While that modified engine with its upgraded turbocharger and 100 extra horsepower may boost its value, that Spongebob Squarepants mural on the hood may make it less valuable to a large pool of buyers. 

Seasonal Price Fluctuations

Cars depreciate and we've all come to accept that. However, that depreciation is more of a wave than a straight downward path for most vehicles. For example, if you own a convertible, its value might be a bit higher during the summer months than amid the brutal Canadian winter due to demand. 

Limited Data

If you own an uncommon vehicle, there may not be enough data to create a firm value for your vehicle. Instead, Canadian Black Book will use data on similar vehicles to come up with its valuation. While this could be an accurate valuation, it may also be higher or lower than the actual value. 

In these cases, it might be better to receive a valuation from a specialist in your specific vehicle type. These experts can give you a more accurate estimate based on current market conditions and trends.  

Graphic illustration of Carfax interface on a mobile phone

Canadian Black Book Alternatives

Canadian Black Book isn't the only way to get a rough value for your vehicle. There are some direct competitors to Canadian Black Book, which we’ll review below. 

Kelley Blue Book Canada

KBB Canada is a newcomer, having debuted its site in 2020, but it’s likely the biggest competitor to Canadian Black Book. It offers a similar interface that allows you to search for vehicles by year, make, model, trim, and options. Once you decide on a particular vehicle, you can gather typical dealer asking prices, estimated trade-in value, and private party values.

KBB offers a few benefits Canadian Black Book lacks, including wider pricing ranges and the ability to add the vehicle's condition. 

Carfax Canada

While Carfax Canada is typically known for its vehicle history reports, it also offers a basic vehicle valuation tool. You can enter the year, make, model, trim, and province to receive the value range and the average value. 

While this tool is straightforward to use, it has several critical flaws. First, there is no context to the valuation, so you don't know if this is the average selling price at a dealership, the average private sale price, or a combination of the two. Second, it doesn't allow you to add the vehicle condition or kilometers. Third, there's no trade-in value available. 

VMR Canada

VMR Canada is by far one of the more in-depth valuation tools, as you can go through and add a wide range of options and customizations. While adding and removing features, you can see exactly what impact each change will have on the wholesale and retail value.

The downside is there's no private party value available, as it focuses on wholesale (trade-in) and retail (dealership purchase). Plus, if you check a box for a feature that's already standard on the trim level you picked, it'll incorrectly add that option's value to the final wholesale or retail pricing, throwing off the valuation.  

Canadian Black Book: Find out how much you can get for your car

Get a Valuation and Cash Offer From Clutch Instead

Canadian Black Book can help you determine your vehicle's value, but there's no guarantee that amount is what you can sell it for. You still have to list the vehicle, meet with prospective buyers (and time-wasting tire kickers) in hopes of getting your asking price, not to mention deal with all the paperwork associated with selling a vehicle. 

At Clutch, Canada's first fully online car-buying experience, you can skip the runaround and mystery with our online vehicle estimator. Simply follow these steps to get an instant cash offer:

  1. Navigate to the Clutch online vehicle estimator.
  2. If you know the vehicle identification number (VIN), click the “VIN” button at the top of the page, enter the VIN, choose your province, and click “Next.” Skip to Step 5.
  3. If you don’t know the VIN, click the “Vehicle Details” button and enter the vehicle’s year, make, model, series, and trim. 
  4. Select the province you live in and click “Next.”
  5. Enter the vehicle’s kilometers.
  6. Click on the appropriate vehicle condition.
  7. Select the vehicle’s colour.
  8. Select whether you’re trading the vehicle for another Clutch vehicle or just selling it to Clutch. 
  9. Click “Next.”
  10. Enter your contact information and click “Get Estimate.”
  11. You’ll receive an immediate estimated price, but you can click “Get Firm Offer” to enter additional information and submit photos to receive a firm value for your vehicle.

We can pay you for your vehicle, or you can use our offer to trade your vehicle in on one of our quality used vehicles. Plus, we'll handle all the paperwork for you and pick up the vehicle. 

Benefits of Trading in With Clutch

When you trade in your vehicle for a Clutch vehicle, we deduct the trade-in value from the vehicle you're buying. This reduces the vehicle sales price, thereby reducing the sales tax you pay on it.

Clutch lets you trade or sell your car online

If you trade in your vehicle, you can perform the entire buying process from the comfort of your home and get a risk-free seven-day money-back guarantee. If you don't like your new Clutch vehicle, simply return it for a full refund or exchange it for a different vehicle. 

Plus, we put all our vehicles through a 210-point inspection and reconditioning process and verify all our vehicles have clear titles, so you know you're getting a quality car. We offer a 90-day or 6,000-km limited warranty on all online Clutch purchases for added peace of mind.