There’s an interesting quirk happening in used car buying that could affect new car sales for years to come. Almost half of all buyers want the car they buy to last at least 10 years.
The survey from AutoMD.com showed the majority of buyers are thinking pre-owned, or what we mortals would call used cars, crossovers, SUVs, and pickups. Price was the most important factor, but so was making sure the car would last a decade.
Why’s that so important? Longer and longer used- and new-car financing has to be a factor. Some used-car loans are creeping past six years. You need a used car that is going to last beyond the life of your loan; otherwise you’re locked into an endless cycle of car payments and can never get ahead.
One good trend for car dealers is brand loyalty. AutoMD says the focus may be on used cars but nearly half want to buy the same brand they’re currently driving. About 29 percent want something new to them.
One thing to consider when buying a car is customer loyalty. It’s strongest with Ford owners, followed by Chevrolet and Toyota. That should point you in the direction of other brands, especially if you are a Ford, Chevrolet, or Toyota owner.
Dealers will work hard to capture your business for a couple reasons. The primary one is you will be trading in a model for which other used car buyers feel a sense of loyalty. The next is the odds are in their favor that you will stick with the brand you are buying and return to the same dealership.
I’ve been using the word “dealership” because a lot of the used cars being bought are in the certified pre-owned sweet spot of five years old or less. You can only buy certified pre-owned Chevys, for example, at Chevrolet dealerships. Dealers want you to keep coming back to their showrooms, even if it’s to buy their used cars, because it’s expensive to harvest new customers (and certified pre-owned vehicles are probably more profitable than new cars).
It’s not really news, but if you’re in the market for an electric vehicle or hybrid, you really ought to consider used. According to AutoMD, only 11 percent of shoppers are interested. That just reflects how low consideration for those vehicles is, but don’t scared off by the hybrid moniker. The new Toyota Prius and Chevrolet Volt are both fantastic sedans that happen to get great fuel efficiency. They will soon be hitting the used-car marketplace as one-year-old models. Hold off until they are two years old, when nobody apparently wants them, and you could get some great deals.
The last consideration worth knowing from the AutoMD study is that buyers are influenced by maintenance costs. Almost three quarters said replacement part costs would be a consideration. (I had one friend who said servicing his used Jaguar was the equivalent of a mortgage payment.)
Do some research and keep that in mind when shopping for a used car. Cost of ownership is a factor beyond just monthly payments. You really need to figure out maintenance costs, too.
Shopping for a new or new-to-you vehicle this weekend?
Bring along CarGurus’ mobile app to help check prices, find good deals, and research cars on your smartphone.