Used Cars Are Getting Cheaper, But Here’s Why That’s Not Good News Staff
by Staff
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The landscape of the used car market has recently shifted, leading to a decrease in vehicle prices. While this trend might initially appear beneficial for buyers, it introduces complications, especially for those aiming to trade in their current vehicles. Insights from Edmunds' Q4 Used Vehicle Report shed light on these complexities and the broader implications for the automotive market.

A Decrease in Used Vehicle Prices

The last quarter of 2023 saw the average transaction price for used cars fall to $28,371, a decline of 4.4% from the same period in the previous year. This adjustment signals a move towards normalization in the used vehicle market but also brings to light the financial dilemmas faced by owners wishing to trade in their cars.

Escalating Issues with Negative Equity

An alarming trend is the growing incidence of negative equity among trade-ins. The final quarter of 2023 witnessed 20.4% of new vehicle sales involving a trade-in with negative equity, the highest proportion in the last two years. This situation points to an increasing number of individuals who find their vehicle’s worth less than the remaining balance on their car loan.

Record Levels of Debt on Upside-Down Loans

The burden for those trapped in upside-down loans has escalated, with the average debt reaching a new peak of $6,064 in the fourth quarter of 2023. This trend highlights the increasing financial strain on consumers, particularly those who acquired new vehicles at prices above their market value during the pandemic.

The Vulnerability of Recent Model Years to Depreciation

The depreciation rate for vehicles one to two years old is particularly steep, exposing them to significant value loss. This is a sharp contrast to the past few years when high demand for used vehicles somewhat protected trade-ins from losing value. The current depreciation rates underscore the risk for owners of newer models.

Silver Linings Among Challenges

Despite these difficulties, opportunities exist for buyers, particularly within the high-end used vehicle market. Comparative analysis shows that substantial discounts are available for slightly older luxury cars and SUVs when juxtaposed with their new counterparts, providing notable savings for those in the market for such vehicles.

An Uncertain Future for Used Vehicle Values

Predicting the trajectory of used car values is becoming increasingly challenging due to various market factors, including fluctuating dealer inventories and changing manufacturer incentives. These dynamics are poised to complicate the landscape for trade-in values, affecting both consumers and dealers alike.

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This article was co-written using AI and was then heavily edited and optimized by our editorial team. Staff Staff

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