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Have you ever wondered if the used car you want is cheaper in another city or state? If it was, would you drive there to see if it had what you wanted? Recently, a study was done which breaks down used car prices around the U.S. Not surprisingly, prices do fluctuate from place to place

What is the cheapest city to buy a used car?

Used car prices are falling should you buy one like these Lincolns now?
A row of used cars on a lot | Getty

In spite of the cost of living being higher than you would associate a city with the cheapest used cars, Miami, Florida, is the place. In general, used cars go for almost 10 percent less there than in many other cities, based on a CarGurus study. The next four cities average between 6.5 percent and 5.33 percent less. They are Cleveland, Ohio; Akron, Ohio; Stamford, Connecticut; and New York, New York. 

Nobody can pinpoint why Miami is the cheapest place to buy a used car, but some economists are guessing. One says the reason might be the older population. After they die, those who inherit the assets might want to get rid of the vehicles quickly. So sales could be out of urgency more than price.

Another says cheaper prices are a result of a large number of rental cars. As a tourist spot, rental companies don’t keep cars around after the miles start racking up. But we know that some of these rental companies move inventory to other parts of the country, where they’re sold at auction. So we’re not sure about this reason.

What is the city with the highest used car prices?

Multiple dealerships in a row, potentially with high vehicle prices.
Multiple dealerships | Getty

Just for comparison, we also looked at the cities with the highest used car prices. Two of the cities with the highest prices are in California. That’s not surprising, but what is are which ones they are. The highest used car prices in the nation are in Fresno, California. With around 500,000 residents, Fresno is about 200 miles from both San Francisco and Los Angeles. Those are two cities you would expect higher prices to reign.

And fifth on the high-price list is Bakersfield, California. Mostly a farming community, it is located over 100 miles from Los Angeles. Neither city would be considered isolated from civilization, so it’s hard to understand how they got into the top five high used car price city list. 

The price differential between the lowest and highest is 20 percent

Car buying at a Toyota dealership in Sydney, Australia
Car buying at a Toyota dealership | Getty

If you take the high-price percentage of Fresno, which is almost 12 percent higher, and Miami’s low percentage, the difference is 21 percent. So a $40,000 vehicle in Fresno would sell for a bit over $30,000 in Miami. Between Fresno and Bakersfield are Albuquerque, New Mexico; Reno, Nevada; and Portland, Oregon. 

Part of the blame for the high prices in Fresno could be due to a lack of supply. So owners are keeping their cars longer, and when they need one there isn’t a lot to choose from. The same can be said for Bakersfield. 

And obviously, the best way to offset the higher prices if you live in one of those high-price cities is to look in neighboring areas where prices are lower. In other words, do your homework.


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