Looking for the cheapest place in the U.S. to buy a used car from an independent dealer? How about from a franchised dealer? It looks like South Dakota and Michigan are going to be your best bet.
The following list has been put together by two excellent sources for used car information: CNW Research, whom are constantly praised on this site, and , which is the used car industry's daily bible for information about the business side of things. (Consider About.com to be more about consumer information.)
The list looks at franchised used car dealers, which are dealers affiliated with new car dealerships, and independent dealers, which could include anything from CarMax all the way down to a mom-and-pop dealership selling 5 used cars a month. In February, according to the AutoRemarketing.com article on the 10 markets for lowest-used vehicle transaction prices for independents, the average transaction price for independent dealers was $6,939. For franchised dealers, according to another AutoRemarketing.com article, the average transaction price for franchised dealers was $12,605, representing a 4% rise from a year ago.
The 10 areas with the lowest used-vehicle transaction prices for independents last month were as follows:
- Sioux Falls (Mitchell), S.D. $4,809
- Ft. Smith-Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers, Ark. $5,021
- Sacramento-Stockton-Modesto, Calif. $5,096
- St. Joseph, Mo. $5,307
- Waco-Temple-Bryan, Texas $5,341
- Sherman, Texas/Ada, Okla. $5,355
- Chico-Redding, Calif. $5,376
- Bluefield-Beckley-Oak Hill, W.Va. $5,380
- Rapid City, S.D. $5,403
- Fargo-Valley City, N.D. $5,425
Keep in mind these are average prices, which means there are a lot of used cars available for under $4809 in Sioux Falls, S.D., which is on the eastern border of South Dakota near Minnesota and Iowa.
On the flip side, we have the franchised dealers. The low-cost market on that list is still $2800 above the number 10 spot on the independent list.
The Top 10 lowest franchised dealer average markets include:
- Marquette Mich.: $8,263
- Glendive, Mont. $8,556
- Spokane, Wash.: $8,828
- Richmond-Petersburg, Va.: $8,861
- Bakersfield, Calif.: $8,881
- Victoria, Texas: $9,013
- Evansville, Ind.: $9,028
- Sioux Falls-Mitchell, S.D.: $9,083
- New Orleans: $9,084
- Milwaukee: $9,275
Now it's time to look at the list of the most expensive places to buy a used car at both a franchised dealer and independent dealer. As you can see by the numbers below, there is a huge discrepancy between the top spots of $13,800 (give or take) between the least-expensive city on average for franchised used car dealers and the most-expensive market for franchised used car dealers.
It's probably no surprise to see a wealthy area of the country like West Palm Beach, Fla., leading the country. There is a lot of wealth there that isn't balanced by a lot of poverty. I would have expected the New York City market to be on the list but it's probably brought down by the sale of used taxis and other service vehicles.
The Top 10 markets with the highest used transaction prices for franchised dealers in February 2013 according to CNW included:
- West Palm Beach-Fort Pierce, Fla.: $22,042
- Fairbanks, Alaska: $16,568
- Grand Junction-Montrose Colo.: $16,316
- Columbus, Ohio: $16,231
- Chicago: $15,910
- Cincinnati: $15,668
- Palm Springs, Calif.: $15,510
- Austin, Texas: $15,485
- Ottumwa Iowa-Kirksville, Mo.: $15,441
- San Diego: $15,436
- West Palm Beach-Fort Pierce, Fla. $10,402
- Columbus, Ga. $9,720
- Miami-Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. $9,022
- Baltimore $8,832
- Springfield, Mo. $8,635
- Corpus Christi Texas $8,622
- Palm Springs, Calif. $8,544
- Jacksonville, Fla. $8,402
- Oklahoma City, Okla. $8,395
- Madison, Wisc. $8,360
As the numbers show, the most expensive place to buy a used car in the United States is the West Palm Beach-Fort Pierce, Fla., market that is about 70 miles north of Miami.
Regardless of how expensive a used car market is or isn't, you're still going to find better prices at independent used car dealers but probably not as wide of a selection. Also, average prices are only an indicator of what a market gets for its used cars. Always remember to determine your used car's value before buying or selling in any market.