Some New Cars Selling at Used Prices
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.
3 Steps Every Car Buyer Needs to Take to Save Maximum MoneyThe key to getting the best deal is to gather price or lease bids from as many local dealers as possible. Then shop that best price around until no one can beat it. Here are the steps:
Step 1 Get Prices From My Trusted NetworkSelect the vehicle you're interested in to see if there are local dealers in my network who will provide you with their best upfront price. You will get direct access to an internet sales manager who you can further negotiate with online (no need to visit dealership).
Step 2 Get Prices From TrueCar / CarsDirectTrueCar, and CarsDirect are my top 2 online price quote recommendations. These services show you pre-negotiated prices from dealers closest to you - and the deals are usually pretty decent. But remember, you can still negotiate further.
Step 3 Complete my ChecklistFollow this up with my checklist to make sure you squeeze out every last bit of savings.
- Gregg Fidan
Each week, I'll keep you up-to-date on the latest car deals and news that might affect your purchase. This includes...
- Best Rebates, Incentives, and Lease Deals
- Latest Car Buying Scams and Tricks
- The Best & Worst Time to Buy a Car
- Which Cars You Should Avoid