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Most Americans Hold Outdated Perceptions of Used Vehicles

Used vehicles are increasingly popular with Americans as consumers turn to the used market for…

  • November 20, 2019

Used vehicles are increasingly popular with Americans as consumers turn to the used market for more affordable options, but a recent survey from Ally finds many Americans still hold outdated notions about used cars.

U.S. consumers think used cars are older and less expensive than they really are, according to an Ally Financial survey of more than 2,000 American adults conducted by The Harris Poll.

On average, Americans think the average age of a used vehicle at the point of sale is 6.6 years, but data from a 2019 Edmunds Used Vehicle Report puts the average age at 4 years.

Additionally, consumers in the Ally survey believed that the price of a used vehicle, on average, at the time of sale is $9,860 when it is more than twice that amount, $20,664, according to Edmunds.

Approximately one-third of Americans (31%) in Ally’s survey thought the average used vehicle was more than twice as old, 8 years or older, as the actual average age, and only one in 10 Americans correctly said the average purchase price of a used car is more than $20,000.

Used car shoppers should consider the following:

Prioritize your needs and wants – Think practically about which features are necessary to get you to your destination safely. 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 – Your automotive budget should not only include the purchase price, but also insurance, finance costs, and ongoing maintenance and repairs.

Research finance options – With some planning and research, a car purchase doesn’t have to strain your budget. A healthy down payment—at least 10% of purchase price is recommended for a used car—can reduce your monthly costs.

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.

See your credit union. Your member-owned, not for profit credit union has some of the best deals on used vehicle financing. Your CU can pre-qualify you, and tell you who to ask for at local dealers.

Need a new car? Get our low interest rates on new and used vehicles. Learn more.