Looking For A Used Car? You May Want To Wait Until June

April 12, 2012
Car lot

Car lot

If you're looking to buy or sell a used car, take note: the National Automobile Dealers Association says that used car values are about to peak. If they're right, now could be the perfect time to unload your current ride, but you may want to wait a couple of months before investing in another used car.

For TCC's regular readers, this shouldn't come as a shock. Back in March, we told you that used car prices were on their way up -- particularly for fuel-efficient models, thanks to rising gasoline prices. 

Now, however, with gas hovering at $3.90, some experts believe that pump prices have peaked. In markets like California, gasoline is already on its way down

But even if gas prices have plateaued, that doesn't mean that used cars will become cheaper overnight. In fact, NADA says that demand for used cars will remain strong through May. That's largely because spring is a big season for car sales, meaning that demand for vehicles will be high. And since used cars have become scarcer since the Great Recession, supply is even lower than it used to be. High demand, low supply: you can do the math.

No? Then let NADA do the math for you.

Since January, used car prices have surged an average of 4.3%, or around $500. However, smaller and fuel-efficient models have seen much greater increases. The 2009 Toyota Prius, for example, has jumped 12% -- from $13,750 to $15,675. The 2010 Ford Focus has soared 10%, from $10,075 to $11,225.

For sellers of those kinds of vehicles, the time may be right to unload.

For shoppers, however, you might want to cool your jets. NADA believes that June prices will be about .05% below April, and July will clock in around 1.5% lower. The variance could be higher or lower, depending on the model that you're shopping.

Of course, that doesn't mean you can't get a head start on your fellow shoppers and start doing some research. Head on over to TCC's used car section, where you'll find reviews of hundreds of previous models, and use our finder tool to locate a used vehicle near you.

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