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Frustrated buyers struggle to find affordable used cars

Consumer Prices
Posted at 5:07 AM, Jan 31, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-31 10:45:22-05

Used car prices are skyrocketing. Starter cars that were once priced at $10,000 are now going for up to $20,000.

Laurie Boyers is a mom trying to buy her 16-year-old daughter an affordable and safe first car. She says all the cars she's finding are too expensive or have too many miles.

Worst Used Car Market in Years

Like many parents looking for a safe used car, Boyers faces 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% since last year due to a shortage of new cars. That leaves budget buyers with limited options — cars with 150,000+ miles, accident histories or problems with the title.

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

What You Can Do

Analyst Karl Brauer of the car buying site ISeeCars.com 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, ISeeCars says:

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

"Whether its private dealers or dealers like Carvana or Zoom, you don't even leave your house, and you have it delivered," Brauer said.

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.

Those tips will help make sure you don't waste your money.

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