Many Americans view used cars as clunkers, but used vehicles give buyers a lot more car for their money on average. Photo by (c) Burak Fatsa/iStock via Getty Images Plus
American perceptions of used cars out-of-date
Even as more Americans turn to the used car market for affordable vehicle options, a recent survey suggests that outdated notions about used cars persist.
Consumers not only think that used cars on average are older at the time of sale than they actually are, but also less expensive, according to an Ally Financial survey of more than 2,000 American adults conducted by The Harris Poll.
On average, the survey finds that Americans think the average age of a used vehicle at the point of sale is 6.6 years, but the 2019 Edmunds Used Vehicle Report puts the average age at 4 years. The Ally survey also finds that on average, consumers believe that the average price of a used vehicle is $9,860 when it’s actually more than twice that amount — $20,664 — according to Edmunds.
“Even though many Americans are buying used cars, the survey shows many people lump all used cars in with old clunkers,” said Matt Arnold, senior regional vice president of Auto Finance at Ally. “It’s time to let go of old stereotypes. With a used vehicle, you’ll either end up with a lot more car for your money, or a lot more money in your wallet.”
For those shopping for a used car or considering doing so, Arnold offers the following tips:
- Prioritize needs and wants: Think practically about which features are necessary. Some nice-to-have tech features add to the price and can cost thousands of dollars in repairs if they break.
- Get a vehicle history report: The minimal cost is worth the investment, and some car dealers will provide it for free upon request.
- Know your budget: Beyond the purchase price, your automotive budget should include insurance, finance costs and ongoing maintenance and repairs.
- Research finance options: A healthy down payment can reduce monthly costs -- at least 10% of the purchase price is recommended for a used car.
- Go online: Auto dealers want buyers to walk away feeling good about their purchase and welcome well-researched shoppers. Prepare yourself by checking online resources like Kelly Blue Book or Edmunds for a specific vehicle’s local market value.
- Consider a service contract: Protection plans help provide peace of mind and can cover expenses for repairs and replacement parts that may no longer be under a manufacturer’s warranty.
To learn more about car buying and ownership, visit ally.com/do-it-right/car.
“Ultimately, today’s used vehicles are better quality and feature more options than ever before. A 75,000-mile used vehicle is in an entirely different category than it was just a few years ago,” says Arnold. “With many of the same tech and safety features that new cars offer but at a significantly lower price point, they’re a smart alternative for all budgets and lifestyles.”