Honest Advice for Car Buyers
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How to Time the Used Car Market to Save Money

March 8, 2012

Unless you've been living under a rock, you've probably been noticing that gas prices have been creeping up at a quick rate recently.

This is bad news if you're considering buying a compact used car, or if you have a large SUV or truck that you need to get rid of.

As gas prices rise, the prices of smaller fuel-efficient vehicles go up, while large SUVs and trucks go down. According to Kelley Blue Book, prices of late-model used Priuses have jumped by as much as $750 just in the past month. NADA Guide reported prices increasing by as much as $450 in just one week.

Experts believe the Toyota Prius essentially acts as a canary in a coal mine. Most other fuel-efficient vehicles have not experienced such a large price increase, but it's only a matter of time before they do so.

So here's my advice: If you know for sure that you'll be purchasing a compact used car this year, you're better off buying one sooner rather than later. On the contrary, if you're in the market for a large used SUV or truck, you'll probably do better by waiting until summer when gas prices usually hit their peak.

Timing the used car market is important if saving money is your top priority. This tip should save you a few hundred dollars if gas prices continue rising.