Low Gas Prices Send Prices for Used Plug-in Car Tumbling

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Despite its recent rise, a gallon of regular gas is still $1.06 cheaper today than it was a year ago, according to AAA. That's led prices for used electric vehicles to plunge, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Related: How Would Chevy's Bolt EV Stack Up Against the Nissan Leaf?

How much? Try more than $2,000. That's the difference in average listing prices between a 3-year-old Nissan Leaf on Cars.com in January 2015 versus a 3-year-old Leaf in January 2014. Last month, the average 2012 Nissan Leaf listed for just $15,575 — a $2,226 drop compared to the average listing price for a 2011 Leaf in January 2014, which was $17,801.

The drop reflects a rough stretch for EV resale value, but it's great news if you're shopping for a used plug-in car.

By Kelsey Mays | February 27, 2015 | Comments (0)

Toyota, GM Top J.D. Power Dependability Study; Fiat Chrysler Rounds Out Bottom

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If you're shopping a late-model used car, a new study might nudge you toward Toyota or GM. Both automakers dominated J.D. Power and Associates' influential 2015 U.S. Vehicle Dependability Study, released today. Toyota's Lexus luxury division topped the VDS' 31-brand dependability rankings, while the Toyota brand itself ranked third. GM was close behind, with its Buick and Cadillac divisions ranking second and fourth, respectively. The automakers' remaining brands — Scion, GMC and Chevrolet — were well above average.

Related: Porsche Flies, Fiat Flails in 2014 J.D. Power Initial Quality Study

Shoppers should pay attention to the VDS, which this year surveyed more than 34,000 owners of 2012 model-year cars in late 2014 to gauge how many problems they experienced in the first three years of ownership. Don't confuse it with the firm's Initial Quality Study, which measures problems in the first 90 days.

Jeep and Fiat were recent losers in both studies, but most Fiat Chrysler Automobiles brands fared poorly in the VDS. Fiat, Jeep, Dodge and Chrysler accounted for four of the bottom nine brands; FCA's Ram truck division was the sole bright spot, landing above average.

Lexus remains the highest-ranked VDS brand for its fourth consecutive year. The brand's 89 problems per 100 cars were the lowest of all brands by a significant margin. By contrast, Land Rover and Fiat both had more than 250 problems per 100 cars — the industry average was 147 problems per 100 cars.

The 2015 VDS analyzed 177 specific problems across eight categories. Here are the full rankings:

By Kelsey Mays | February 25, 2015 | Comments (3)

Used Luxury Cars Cheaper in January, Full-Size Vans More Expensive

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Used luxury cars became more affordable in January, with seven of the 10 models with the biggest price drops hailing from luxury brands.

Average asking prices for Mercedes-Benz's flagship S-Class sedan fell the most last month, down 4.2 percent ($2,757) to $63,563. Close behind were two models from rival BMW: the 535i midsize car and Z4 sports car. Their prices declined 4.1 percent ($1,869) and 4 percent ($1,685), respectively.

Related: Used Cars Could Depreciate More in 2015

Meanwhile, four of the top five models with the greatest price gains were versions of two full-size vans: the Chevrolet Express and Ford E-Series. The Express 1500 had the biggest price increase, up 4.8 percent ($1,014), and the E-250 Super Duty was a close second with a 4.5 percent ($1,015) jump.

The charts detail used cars from the 2012 to 2014 model years with the biggest price drops and increases. To be eligible for the lists, a model had to have at least 250 cars in Cars.com's national search listings.

By Mike Hanley | February 6, 2015 | Comments (0)

Used Cars Could Depreciate More in 2015

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Looking for a used car? This might be the year to start shopping. Ratings agency Fitch and Cars.com partner Black Book, a used-car valuation service, said in a new report that increasing new-car production will turn up the heat on vehicle depreciation in 2015.

Related: Used-Car Prices Fall for Eighth Month in a Row

The jump is significant. In 2014, used cars averaged a 12.1 percent rate of depreciation — which is to say, the average used car was worth 12.1 percent less in 2014 than it was in 2013. Black Book expects the rate of depreciation to climb to 14.5 percent in 2015. But before you run out and sell your car ahead of the decline, Black Book said those depreciation rates are simply reverting toward their pre-recession norms.

If you bought a used car in the immediate years after the recession, you know how pricey they were. That's because the annual depreciation rate on a 2- to 6-year-old car was just 7.7 percent in 2011. From 2012 to 2014, it hovered between 12 and 13 percent per year. Contrast that to pre-recession depreciation rates, which ranged from 14 to 18 percent per year — a rate we may see again in 2015. As depreciation increases, Fitch notes that residual values for auto leasing will fall. That, in turn, could make the monthly cost of a lease rise.

By Kelsey Mays | February 5, 2015 | Comments (2)

Used-Car Prices Fall for Eighth Month in a Row

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Late-model used-car prices sank $115 to $21,643 in December. This is the lowest prices have been all year; they're down 6.9 percent ($1,594) since the beginning of the year.

Fiat 500c prices dropped the most this month. The subcompact car was down 4.6 percent ($741) to $15,495. The Ford Ranger pickup truck and Dodge Grand Caravan minivan followed it, with declines of 3.4 percent ($600) and 3 percent ($516), respectively.

Related: More Used-Car News

Prices for used luxury cars, particularly those from Mercedes-Benz, continue to strengthen. For the second month in a row, the Mercedes S-Class flagship sedan had the biggest price increase. It was up 2.1 percent ($1,200) to $59,145. The Mercedes M-Class SUV came next, with its price up 1.9 percent ($708). Following it was the Toyota Sequoia SUV, which was up 1.6 percent ($649).

By Mike Hanley | December 29, 2014 | Comments (2)

Used-Car Prices Reach New Low in November

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Black Friday deals may be on the minds of many shoppers right now, but it's also a good time to grab a deal on a used car. Since April, when prices were at their peak for the year, late-model used-car prices have fallen every month thereafter and currently average $21,758 — a decrease of $1,660.

Prices for used Audi A3 and A6 cars surged last month, but they gave up their gains and then some in November. A3 prices fell 6.6 percent ($1,590) this month to lead all models, and the A6 was second with a 5.6 percent ($2,087) drop. The all-electric Nissan Leaf had the third-largest decrease in asking price with a 4.7 percent ($821) decline.

Related: More Used Car News

As Audi prices weakened, Mercedes-Benz prices strengthened. There were just eight models in November that saw their average prices increase, but four of them were from the luxury brand including the S-Class flagship sedan, which led all models with a 1.4 percent ($810) gain. The Infiniti M37 sedan was next with its average price up 1.1 percent ($344), and following it was the Mercedes M-Class SUV, which saw its price rise 0.8 percent ($311).

The charts below detail used cars from the 2011 to 2013 model years with the biggest price drops and increases. To be eligible for the lists, a model had to have at least 250 cars in Cars.com's national inventory.

By Mike Hanley | November 26, 2014 | Comments (3)

Used-Car Prices Down More Than $1,100 From Start of Year

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Late-model used-car prices continued their steady decline in October, reaching a new low for the year. Average listing prices for 2011 to 2013 models stood at $22,071, which is 1.3 percent ($283) less than September. Prices are down 5 percent ($1,166) since January.

Related: More Used Car News

Mitsubishi Galant prices dropped the most this month; prices for the midsize sedan were down 4.2 percent ($559) from the month before. Just behind it was the Kia Sedona minivan and BMW 328i compact luxury car with price drops of 3.9 percent ($659) and 3.4 percent ($943), respectively.

By Mike Hanley | October 29, 2014 | Comments (0)

Used BMW Prices Fall Most in September

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Used-car prices continue to sink, extending a trend that began in the spring. Compared to August, average September listing prices for 2011 to 2013 model-year cars were down 1.1 percent ($250) to $22,354. Average prices have now fallen nearly $900 from the beginning of the year.

Related Storm Surge: Beware of Title-Washed Cars

Practically all the models with the biggest price drops this month were luxury cars, and most of these were BMWs. The brand's 7 Series full-size sedan took the top two spots, with the six-cylinder 740i down 4.7 percent ($2,266) and the V-8 750i down 4.1 percent ($2,113). The lone nonluxury model in the top 10 was the Nissan Leaf electric car, which experienced a 2.9 percent ($531) price drop.

By Mike Hanley | September 26, 2014 | Comments (1)

Storm Surge: Beware of Title-Washed Cars

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Shopping for a used car in Mississippi? Beware of title washing. The Magnolia State has the highest density of title-washed cars in the country, with 1 in every 44.6 used cars bearing a washed title, a Cars.com analysis has found. That's well above the national average of 1 in 324.9 used cars. New Jersey, meanwhile, has the second-highest rate: 1 in 87 cars.

Related: How to Know if You're Buying a Flood-Damaged Car

Why? In a word, hurricanes. Nearly a decade ago, Hurricanes Katrina and Rita left 600,000 flood-damaged cars across the Gulf States. And in 2012, Hurricane Sandy reportedly left more than 200,000 storm-damaged cars in New Jersey and New York. Salvage titles, or titles for cars that were retitled after they were written off as total losses by insurance companies, proliferated after all three storms. Title washing also surged, where sellers alter vehicle titles to hide their salvage status and sell the cars as regular used vehicles. To do this, sellers often send those cars through states with looser title laws.

By contrast, used-car shoppers in Ohio, Florida and Pennsylvania have less to worry about. Just 1 in 2,127 used cars in Ohio has a washed title. Florida (1 in 1,444.9 cars) and Pennsylvania (1 in 1,200.3 cars) round out the podium for low-risk states.

By Kelsey Mays | September 23, 2014 | Comments (5)

NHTSA Launches VIN-Searchable Recall Finder

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Used-car shoppers: Want to know if your prospective car has any recalls that haven't been done? After all, about 1 in 4 recalled cars never get their recall work done, which could stick future owners with potential safety hazards.

More Recall Coverage

Now there's a place you can find this information. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration just launched a tool on its website where you can look up a car by its vehicle identification number to view its recalls. It's at www.safercar.gov/vinlookup. You can find the VIN at the base of the driver's side of the windshield, just beneath the glass.

It isn't just a tool to see what recalls have been announced on a prospective vehicle; it also shows you if those recalls have been completed or not on that specific car.

By Kelsey Mays | August 20, 2014 | Comments (0)

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