A Good Time to Trade in That Gently Used Car
Used-vehicle prices hit record highs; no new-car smell necessary with strong demand for fuel-efficient models.
Among the forces driving up used-car values is a shortage of many popular Japanese models due to production slowdowns following the March earthquake. And the sales collapse during the 2008 and 2009 financial crisis means fewer two- and three-year-old cars are available.
The National Automobile Dealers Association last week raised values again on many small- and medium-size cars in its latest Used Car Guide, which is widely used by dealers when deciding what to offer for cars taken as trade-ins.
A one-year-old Honda Civic that NADA's Used Car Guide valued at $14,275 in May is now estimated to be worth $15,950. "The same car," says Jonathan Banks, NADA's executive auto analyst.
KBB.com, the Web home of the Kelley Blue Book used-vehicle-pricing franchise, says a three-year-old Toyota Prius is worth, on average, $17,750 as a trade-in, up $6,050 from the value of a three-year-old Prius a year ago.
[More from WSJ.com: Shoppers Scramble for Toyota Prius as Gas Stays Pricey]
The market isn't booming for all types of vehicles. Large sport utility vehicles, such as a Ford Expedition or Chevrolet Tahoe are down less than 1% from a year ago, according to NADA's guide. Still, they are up nearly 5% from the start of the year.
Late-model, mid-size luxury cars -- a segment that includes the Mercedes E-Class and the BMW 5-series -- are worth about 6% more on average than a year ago, according to NADA.
More on this topic here: http://finance.yahoo...od=family-autos