Frustrated buyers struggle to find affordable used cars

Frustrated buyers struggle to find affordable used cars

Used car prices are skyrocketing.

Starter cars that used to be priced at $10,000 are now going for up to $20,000.

Laurie Boyers is a “safety mom” who is trying to buy her 16-year-old daughter an affordable first car.

She says all the cars are too expensive or have too many miles.

“This one has 195,000 miles,” she said, pointing out a more inexpensive vehicle she found online.

Worst Used Car Market in Years

Like many parents looking for a safe used car, Boyers is facing the worst car market in a generation.

“I am finding the average car price for a 50,000-mile car is about $25,000,” she said.

Used car prices are up 20% over the past year due to the new car shortage.

It’s leaving budget buyers looking at purchasing a car with 150,000 miles on it, an accident history, or problems with the title.

“Some of them have salvage or rebuilt titles to them,” Boyers said, “which is going to cause issues of where they came from, their past history.”

What You Can Do

Analyst Karl Brauer of the car buying site says people should start by expanding their search area.

“If you are fixated on finding exactly what you want near your house, you are not going to find the car,” Brauer said.

Instead, i-SeeCars says:

  • Check dealers within a 2 or 3-hour drive
  • Check sites like Carvana and Zoom that scour the whole country, and may find better deals in more rural areas
  • Ask neighbors, and check Facebook Marketplace for local cars without dealer markup

“Whether its private dealers or dealers like Carvana or Zoom,” he explained, “you don’t even leave your house and you have it delivered.”

Finally, independent car dealer Gary Heflin says people can save thousands of dollars buying a 4-door car, like a Honda Civic or Toyota Corolla, instead of their larger SUV siblings, the CRV or RAV-4.

“The best value is probably a sedan,” Heflin said.

These tips will help make sure you don’t waste your money.


Don’t Waste Your Money” is a registered trademark of Scripps Media, Inc. (“Scripps”).

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