A Good Time to Trade in That Gently Used Car

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A Good Time to Trade in That Gently Used Car

Used-vehicle prices hit record highs; no new-car smell necessary with strong demand for fuel-efficient models.

Among the forces driving up used-car values is a shortage of many popular Japanese models due to production slowdowns following the March earthquake. And the sales collapse during the 2008 and 2009 financial crisis means fewer two- and three-year-old cars are available.

The National Automobile Dealers Association last week raised values again on many small- and medium-size cars in its latest Used Car Guide, which is widely used by dealers when deciding what to offer for cars taken as trade-ins.

A one-year-old Honda Civic that NADA's Used Car Guide valued at $14,275 in May is now estimated to be worth $15,950. "The same car," says Jonathan Banks, NADA's executive auto analyst.

KBB.com, the Web home of the Kelley Blue Book used-vehicle-pricing franchise, says a three-year-old Toyota Prius is worth, on average, $17,750 as a trade-in, up $6,050 from the value of a three-year-old Prius a year ago.

[More from WSJ.com: Shoppers Scramble for Toyota Prius as Gas Stays Pricey]

The market isn't booming for all types of vehicles. Large sport utility vehicles, such as a Ford Expedition or Chevrolet Tahoe are down less than 1% from a year ago, according to NADA's guide. Still, they are up nearly 5% from the start of the year.

Late-model, mid-size luxury cars -- a segment that includes the Mercedes E-Class and the BMW 5-series -- are worth about 6% more on average than a year ago, according to NADA.

More on this topic here: http://finance.yahoo.com/family-home/article/112895/trade-in-used-car-wsj?mod=family-autos

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