HOUSTON – Used cars have become hugely popular and valuable. That’s good news if you are looking to sell your car and not so good if you need to buy, especially for certain types of vehicles. The go-to affordable used cars from the past are no longer affordable.
“The used car market, I don’t think anyone has seen anything like it,” said Helfman Pre-owned car manager, Walter Cuevas.
“It’s unprecedented, you know, to see used cars going up in value,” said Karl Brauer from ISeeCars.com.
Prices for used cars are skyrocketing and we saw this coming. More people purchased used cars after supply chain issues in the pandemic slowed the production of new cars.
In some ways, it’s good for consumers.
“A lot of people who bought a used car two or three years ago put 10,000 miles on it and can sell it for the same or a little more than they bought it for three years ago,” said Brauer.
But it’s a problem if you need to buy it right now.
“Car values, both new and used, have gone up faster than people’s income.”
Data from the search website ISeeCars.com compare used car prices in 2019 vs. 2022.
Used Cars That Are No Longer Affordable in Houston
- Avalon $22,033 VS $35,121
- Traverse $21,709 VS $33,526
- BMW3 Series $21,631 VS $36,310
- Toyota Rav4 $21,969 VS $36,730
At the Helfman dealership off Interstate 10 near Ikea, Cuevas tells us all of his customers want the same thing.
“People are looking for low-paying vehicles,” said Cuevas. “Those are the vehicles they are interested in.”
Ways to save money on a used car right now
If you need to buy a used car right now, there are a few things you can do to find the best deal.
1. Get the warranty
Look for cars that come with warranties so you don’t have to worry about expensive repairs. Some used cars may come with warranties already, for others you might have the option to add that coverage.
“So if you could go out and find a 25 or 30,000-mile car and it’s got a certified pre-owned coverage from the manufacturer, it’s pretty easy to buy that car with a lot of peace of mind because if something goes wrong, it gets fixed for free,” said Brauer.
2. Check the history... closely
Next, check the car history report. But in addition to accidents, look for service visits.
“It shows you the way they maintain the vehicle and the service history on it,” explained Cuevas.
Here’s everything you need to know about a vehicle history report.
3. Expand your search
Most people just look in the 30- or 60-mile radius when searching for used cars. Be flexible on how far you are willing to go.
“If you can expand 200, 300, 500 miles out you’re gonna get a much different geographical sample and sometimes cars that are very popular right in your area aren’t as popular for some reason or another in an area a couple hundred miles away,” said Brauer.
Case in point, we couldn’t find the vehicles that ISeeCars said are the most affordable in our area. The list of these vehicles includes the GMC Terrain, Chrysler 300 and Nissan Frontier. These are all around $26,000.
4. Get a second opinion
Cuevas said any reputable dealer should allow you to take the vehicle to a mechanic you trust to check it over before you buy.
How long will these higher prices and low demand last?
“If you can wait another three to six months, you’ll probably only get better deals as opposed to cars being more expensive three to six months from now. So yeah, that’s the good advice is to wait,” explained Brauer.
In general, any used vehicle under $20,000 is in high demand. You can search for the most affordable vehicles in Houston on ISeeCars.com.
Bonus tip: You could also save money on your car bill by looking into ways to lower your car insurance. Learn more about how apps and other monitoring devices may help you cut your bills!