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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.

My Recommendation for Car Shoppers

TrueCar No-Haggle and Edmunds Price Promise 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

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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