Shopping for a used vehicle comes with some risks, including paying too much for a popular model. However, buyers willing to search beyond their local market could save real money. While it's easy to assume car prices are about the same everywhere, a recent study by iSeeCars indicates people can save upwards of $6,100 on a typical used car by shopping in a less expensive market.
After analyzing over 6.5 million one to five-year-old used car transactions from January to August of this year, iSeeCars discovered a wide range of price differences. Across the 50 largest cities in the US, it determined the most expensive place to buy a used car is Palm Beach, Florida, while the cheapest is Cleveland, Ohio. With used car prices up almost 50 percent since 2019, that means a road trip might be an excellent way to save a chunk of change.
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In addition to West Palm Beach, buyers in Denver, Colorado, Austin, Texas, and Seattle, Washington, paid between $1,000 and $3,400 more than average for a used car. Other high-priced car markets include Salt Lake City, Utah, the Dallas-Ft. Worth metropolitan area, Charlotte, North Carolina, Los Angeles, and Boston.
Meanwhile, buyers in the least expensive cities, which include Cleveland, Cincinnati, and Columbus, Ohio, Norfolk, Virginia, Fresno, California, and Orlando, Florida, saved between $1,700 and $2,700 on average. Interestingly, the least and most expensive markets are scattered throughout the US. That means the distance between an expensive market area and a cheap one could be just a few hours away.
Take the Ram 1500, for example. The popular truck has an average price of $47,159 in Denver but is $7,795 less in Cleveland, selling for about $39,364. Even after factoring in the cost of a plane ticket and a 1,400-mile trip home, a buyer could save thousands of dollars for a few days of effort. In addition to trucks, buyers looking for vehicles like the Hyundai Tucson and Toyota Corolla can save about $2,100 between the cheapest and most expensive markets.
A survey by Automotive News indicated that people will travel 469 miles to buy a car. The pricing disparity between major US car markets not only provides an incentive to make that journey. It could be a good way to combine a car purchase with a short vacation.