New Jersey Used Car Buying Guide

Pricing a car is a simple process for anyone with online access.  Keep in mind that prices may vary by season, region, or even the weather.



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     As noted on our Buyer's Guide page, popular price guides online include Kelley Blue Book, Edmunds, and Nada. Here I want to talk briefly about the different prices you'll see listed for each car, and mention a few factors that may not be mentioned at all.

    The major differences in a used car prices can be attributed to the party on the other side of the transaction.  To put it simply, you can probably expect to do better selling your car on your own than if you sell it to a dealer.   This has to come as no surprise.  The dealer has extensive overhead, in addition to the risk that your car may have mechanical problems which are not immediately evident. 

     Similarly, you can often do better price-wise purchasing from a private party.  Again, no overhead is a powerful thing.  Am I saying we should all avoid dealers?  No way!  Dealers provide many valuable services (financing, title & tags, warranties, etc), and generally make a switch from one car to another quick and painless.  Is there anything more tiresome than answering calls and making appointments with tire-kickers who only want to pay a ridiculously low price?  I don't think so.

     It's also worth noting that cars may vary in price for a variety of other reasons.  Seasonal variations occur predictably and for obvious reasons.  If you're buying a convertible in a part of the country that experiences extreme winter weather, expect to pay a premium in Spring or early summer.  

     Used luxury cars may be more or less valuable in a given region based on demographic info such as median age or income.  Some wholesalers make a nice living simply buying in one area and transporting and reselling to dealers in another.

     Finally, short-term weather conditions may cause an irrational spike or drop in a used car's value.  A summer heat wave may make a good used car with no AC virtually impossible to sell.  On the other hand, even the prediction of snow and ice may make 4-wheel drive vehicles sell quickly and for a premium.

     These types of variables are not critical in buying or selling, but they may be worth your consideration.



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