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Some New Cars Selling at Used Prices

April 7, 2016

If you've been shopping for a late-model used car, you may have noticed some 2015 and 2016 model-year vehicles listed with very low mileage - I'm talking below 100 miles on the odometer. Why are these vehicles on the used car market? Who would get rid of a brand new car after driving it for such few miles? And are these cars to be avoided, or do they present a good buying opportunity?

The practice of selling low-mileage used vehicles is referred to as "punching cars". It's a result of manufacturers encouraging dealers to buy their own cars in order to artificially inflate sales figures. This is a stupid practice for manufacturers and dealers, as it results in short-term benefits (increased fake sales), and long-term consequences (eroded brand image, lower residual values). But you, the car shopper - can benefit from their stupidity!

In 2015, there were over 250,000 "punched" cars. Some of these are legitimate used vehicles, such as loaner or demos, but many of these vehicles are basically new cars being sold as used.

The four brands that punch cars most often seem to be Kia, BMW, Nissan, and FIAT. A quick search on Cars.com shows over 2,000 late-model Nissan Altimas available on dealer lots, some with less than 10 miles on the odometer:

So do these vehicles present a good buying opportunity? The short answer is yes, but you do need to pay attention to how long the vehicle has been sitting on the lot. While the vehicle is pretty much "new", the warranty period starts on the day it was first "sold" - so keep that in mind.

Manufacturers encourage dealers to buy/sell these vehicles by offering large hidden incentives, so dealers do have more wiggle room to negotiate prices on these "punched cars". If you're shopping for a new car, I recommend you check out the used listings on the low-mileage alternatives to see what kind of deals you may be able to get.

As always - when you're ready to negotiate car prices, I recommend you use TrueCar No Haggle and Edmunds Price Promise to quickly see what deals are being offered in your local area.

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.
- 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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