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Used Vehicle Price Guides Can Be Off by Thousands of Dollars

September 3, 2009

Used Car Prices Used cars are in short supply these days.

When supply is low, prices tend to go up. One main reason for the shortfall is due to the collapse of the car rental business. Rental fleets are ordering half the cars they used to, which means they don't have as many cars to sell to dealerships.

On top of this, 2007 and 2008 car sales were lower than usual, meaning less late-model used cars available. Furthermore, the "cash for clunkers" program sent 700,000 functional cars to the scrapheap instead of the used car market.

This shortfall in supply has led to a large increase in prices for used cars over the last several months.

So much so that used-vehicle guides such as NADA Guides and Kelly Blue Book have had a hard time keeping up. Many dealers have been complaining that the wholesale prices quoted in NADA Guides is often thousands of dollars too low.

Car shoppers who will be trading in their used car need to spend more time to determine what their car is truly worth. Don't just go by the guidebooks. You could be short-changing yourself by thousands of dollars.

Read our Guide to Selling Your Used Car to get the highest price for your car.

My Recommendation for Car Shoppers

TrueCar, Edmunds, and 1-800 Car Show are the quickest way to see the lowest car prices in your area. These sites show you no-haggle prices from dealers closest to you - and the deals are usually really good. This should be the first step you take when negotiating your car price. Follow this up with my checklist to make sure you squeeze out every last bit of savings.

California Residents - Important:

There is a new online car buying service called Roadster, available only to California residents, which I highly recommend you try - especially if you hate the stress of haggling with a car salesman. They provide an expert concierge who negotiates the price of the car and delivers it to your home with zero hassle - you never have to interact with a dealership. Here is my in-depth review of Roadster and why I recommend it.

- Gregg Fidan

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Gregg Fidan

About: Gregg Fidan

Gregg Fidan + is the founder of RealCarTips. After being ripped off on his first car purchase, he devoted several years to figuring out the best ways to avoid scams and negotiate the best car deals. He has written hundreds of articles on the subject of car buying and taught thousands of car shoppers how to get the best deals.

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