If you are planning on buying a used car in 2012, then you may notice a few differences that didn’t exist over the past few years. There are a few trends that were noticeable five or six years ago that are starting to come back. At the same time, the makeup of the used car market is starting to shift dramatically. Here’s a quick look at what to expect as a used car buyer in 2012.
- Used Cars Are Getting Older
The average age of used cars in operation has increased to 11.1 years. 10 years ago, the average was 9.3 years. So what does this mean for you as a used car buyer. Essentially, it means that the used car market has a slightly smaller supply then they did a few years ago. As a result, late-model used cars are more expensive. In 2012, the price of older used cars will start to decrease as more of them are replaced by new cars. This means that the supply of older used cars will start increasing as they are traded in. If you are just looking to save money on a used car, then an older auction will offer significant savings – especially as the year progresses.
- Certified Preowned Cars Will Become More Expensive
Another trend in 2012 that used car buyer should expect is that certified preowned cars will continue to become more expensive. If you are not familiar with certified preowned vehicles, they are used cars which are normally less than four years old and will have less than 50,000 miles. In most cases, they are taken as trade-ins or off lease vehicles and then resold with an extended warranty. While this warranty ensures that only the top-of-the-line used cars become certified, it also makes them much more expensive.
The increase in price, could have to unexpected impacts on used car buyers as well. The first is that it will be more difficult to find cars that qualify to be certified preowned vehicles at independent dealerships. This is because franchise car dealerships are willing to spend more money to get these vehicles because they know that they will end up selling them for much more as well. As a result, independent dealerships will often not be able to compete with them. As a result, independent dealerships will have to improve their profit margin on late-model used cars that do not qualify as a certified preowned vehicle for one reason or another. This means that even if it is not certified preowned, there is a good chance that late-model used cars will be more expensive at all dealerships.
- The Risk of Odometer Tampering Continues to Rise
Another threat that will become more prevalent for used car buyers in 2012 is odometer tampering. This has proven to be especially true for vehicles coming off lease. A review of thousands of off lease vehicles reported a 30% increase in odometer tampering over the course of 2011. This is largely due to the increase of tools available via the Internet. With traditional analog odometers, it takes much more skill and a steady hand to manipulate the mileage. However, rolling back a digital odometer is much easier for computer savvy individuals.
The reason that off lease vehicles tend to be the biggest risk for odometer tampering is because the previous owner would end up paying additional charges and fees if they went over there mileage limit. To prevent this, they try to set back the odometer to an acceptable mileage. In general, this isn’t a problem related to dealerships being unscrupulous, rather individuals becoming more savvy. This makes thoroughly checking any off lease vehicle before purchasing it even more important.
- More Used Cars Will Be Available As the Year Goes On
If you are buying a used car in 2012, your options will likely increase as the year progresses. At this point, there is no reason to think that the sales of new cars won’t continue to increase in 2012 as they did in the last half of 2011. As a result, as new car sales increase, the number of used cars traded in will increase as well. This means that there is a chance that used car prices may decrease as the year goes on. At the same time, while the average age of a used car on the road may decrease, that doesn’t necessarily mean that there will be more late-model vehicles available on the secondary market. A majority of these used cars you find will tend to be 5 to 10 years old.
Fortunately, during tough economic times people tend to take better care of their vehicles because they do not know when they will be able to get a new one. As a result, used car buyers in 2012 will likely find more older used cars that are still well maintained and in good condition. This means that a seven-year-old used car that you buy this year will likely last longer than a seven-year-old car bought several years ago.
- Online Used Car Auctions Will Continue to Become More Popular
There is no arguing that the Internet has become a valuable tool for shoppers. Many people go online to find out a variety of facts about new and used cars that they are interested in. In 2012, more used car buyers will turn to online auction sites to purchase their used cars. This trend is mirroring what happened to the retail industry several years ago. While there were initially a variety of negative reports about online auction websites, these reviews from consumers have pushed less reputable websites from the forefront. In 2012, there is a good chance that a handful of quality, reputable online auction websites will firmly establish themselves as the best options. As a result, the level of trust that the average person has in these websites will increase as will their popularity among auction houses. In fact, in 2011 more auction houses utilize online auction websites than ever before and this trend will likely continue. Having traditional, well-known auction houses who have built a strong reputation for their live auctions associating and working with their online counterparts will boost the credibility of online auto auction websites as well.