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Frequently Asked Questions

VMR's exclusive customer helpline has helped thousands of readers with questions about pricing, content, and just plain general information and advice. To help all our readers, we've assembled some of the more commonly asked questions below.

Where do you get your pricing? VMR's pricing data is compiled from several different sources. Auction results, our exclusive Value-Track database, actual sale reports from our helpline, government data, and new car inventory levels and incentives are included in our pricing model.

Why do your values differ from the source the dealer uses? VMR compiles actual market data. Our data reflects numbers the way they really are, not how those values will serve a target market. Dealer guides such as NADA and Kelly Blue Book (which no longer sells printed guides), in our view often overstate the true market value of many vehicles, sometimes substantially. This is precisely the reason dealers use these guides - they lend credibility to inflated prices.  Ask yourself this: If these guides benefit dealers, where does that leave you?

Why don't most sources publish wholesale numbers? The wholesale price is the market's single most important figure. Price reports that show only trade-in, loan, or retail figures are dancing around the issue. The wholesale number sets the baseline for all parties - buyer and seller. If you are using other sources in addition to VMR's, or even if you are not using us at all, we strongly recommend that you look for market-derived wholesale pricing. It's the only way you can be reasonably sure of the kind of deal you are getting.

Can I call your helpline with questions about cars & car buying? As long as you have a current PRINT edition of our guide, we'll share our knowledge about anything to do with cars. Purchasing the book buys access to our helpline. We're sorry, but without the book, we can't assist you verbally. You can email us, and we'll try to get back to you within 24hrs. If you do not have a current edition of one of our publications, they are easily obtained at bookstores and newsstands everywhere, including Barnes & Noble, or you can order one here.

Do trim packages listed with trucks include all power accessories? No. All van and truck trim packages have been "decontented" so you do not have to worry about figuring out what was standard and what wasn't for the myriad of trim and equipment packages available. The pricing reflects adjustments for the trim only (chrome, upgraded interior, etc.) -- you still need to go to the Truck Equipment Table.

How much do I add for a "Certified" Used Car or Truck? Manufacturer-backed used car certification programs are one way for you get a little peace of mind when purchasing a used vehicle--but it will cost you. Furthermore, we have heard of countless instances where those "142 checkpoints" aren't really checked at all -- dealers simply slap the label on the car and pay the certification fee to the manufacturer. It's a good idea for you to ask for the checklist and go through a few yourself. CPO (certified pre-owned) programs do add value to a vehicle--mainly for the extended warranty that goes with them. Add $500-$1,000 to VMR values for most cars; $1,500+ for expensive premium models.

The dealer tells me that your prices are national, and that prices are higher in our region. We hear this ALL THE TIME. It doesn't matter what region the caller is in -- it's always the highest-cost region of the country! Don't buy it. Our pricing is nationally averaged. However, except in very isolated instances, prices fluctuate less than 5% (usually much less) from any one region to another. Think of it this way: If a Camry was worth $2000 more in L.A. than in Cleveland, you'd see one car hauler after another full of Camrys on their way to the west coast every day. It simply isn't a market fact.