Used-car prices skyrocketed in recent years due in part to new vehicle availability issues in the wake of the ongoing chip shortage, but a new study finds that not all cities have been hit equally hard by the increase. Website iSeeCars analyzed the national cost of the 25 most popular used cars to help buyers get a good deal.
Where you buy has a significant impact on what you pay, which makes sense: our country is the size of a continent, and demand for different models varies greatly from region to region and from state to state. Even with a plane ticket and gas factored in (or even the cost of shipping), there's money to be saved.
Take the Nissan Rogue, for example. The cheapest city to buy a Rogue in is San Antonio, Texas; in contrast, the crossover costs more in Fairbanks, Alaska, than anywhere else in the nation, according to iSeeCars. With all other factors being equal, including year, mileage, options, and condition, the Rogue costs 32.4% more in Fairbanks than in San Antonio. Alaska is, of course, quite far from the rest of the country (buyers there sometimes pay a higher destination charge) so the difference isn't surprising, but it's eye-opening nonetheless.
Even if we take Alaska out of the equation, the cost of used cars remains volatile. The same study found that the perennially popular Ford F-150 costs 26.8% (or $14,166) more in Zanesville, Ohio, than in Glendive, Montana. That's a significant sum which bought you a new Nissan Sentra a couple of years ago. GMC Sierra buyers in Marquette, Michigan, will pay 22.5% more ($12,144) than those in Casper, Wyoming.
The study also found the cheapest cities to buy a specific car in. If you're in the market for a Honda Civic, browse the classifieds in and around Lincoln, Nebraska; you'll pay 17% less ($4,794) than the national average. If you've got an off-roading itch to scratch, the cheapest examples of the Jeep Wrangler can be found in Springfield, Massachusetts, where they cost 11.4% less ($4,148) than the national average.
At the other end of the spectrum, there are cities in which you should avoid buying a specific car if you want to score a deal. Residents of Denver, Colorado, will pay about 5.9% more ($2,176) for a used Jeep Grand Cherokee than the national average, though they can get a Toyota Corolla for 3.8% below the national average. Moving further west, the Ford F-150 costs 5.9% more ($2,497) in Salt Lake City, Utah, while the Honda Civic hatchback usually sells for 6.8% less. And, somewhat ironically, Tacoma, Washington, is one of the worst places to shop for a Toyota Tacoma: the truck is usually priced 8.8% more ($3,347) than the national average. If you're looking for a deal on Toyota's entry-level truck, take a flight to (and maybe a few days off in) sunny Miami, where you'll pay 11.2% less ($4,275) than the national average.