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Used-car prices decline 1.5% as spring softness settles in

May 10, 2013
By Mark Scarpelli, Chicago Metro NADA Director
Overall market prices for all vehicle segments declined by an average of 1.5 percent in April compared to March. The wholesale price decline in April was directionally correct with what NADA analysts expected to occur during the first full month of the spring selling season.
In terms of declines, the midsize car segment led the pack with prices declining an average 1.9 percent compared to the prior month. Following closely behind was the compact car and compact utility segments which saw prices fall by 1.8 percent apiece along with midsize utilities, which dropped by 1.2 percent.
All remaining mainstream segments experienced declines well under the market average: Midsize vans declined by 0.7 percent and large pickups followed right behind, at 0.6 percent. The only mainstream segment with no noticeable movement was large SUVs, which remained flat compared to March prices. Luxury cars and luxury utilities declined by 1 percent.
On a year-over-year basis, according to the NADA’s Used Price Index, prices for used vehicles grew by 0.2 percent in April compared to the same period last year. The index is a seasonally adjusted measurement of the change in prices for used vehicles up to 8 years in age. For more information, visit
In other NADA news …
A new survey found that new-car and -truck buyers ranked Fuel Economy, Ownership Costs, Brand Perception, Safety and Vehicle Design as the five most important attributes considered when shopping for a vehicle. Factors were scored on a scale from 0 to 100, with a higher score indicating greater importance.
Both new-car and -truck shoppers ranked Fuel Economy as the most important factor. Car buyers placed a greater emphasis on Fuel Economy compared to truck buyers with scores of 89 and 84, respectively. Car buyers gave Vehicle Design a mark of 76, making it the second most important factor considered after Fuel Economy.
“The fact that car shoppers ranked Vehicle Design so highly is a reflection of the ongoing parity we’ve seen in the areas of quality, dependability and efficiency among the brands,” said Jonathan Banks, executive automotive analyst for the NADA Used Car Guide. “As we’ve seen from the success of Hyundai and Kia over the past few years, inspirational design can change how consumers view a brand and act as a catalyst to increase new-vehicle sales.”
Banks said that the restyles of the 2013 Honda Civic and 2014 Chevrolet Malibu, just one year after major revisions, also were examples of how “manufacturers are keenly aware of the pronounced role of design in shaping the sales success of a brand.”
With scores ranging from 67 to 72, Brand Perception, Safety and Ownership Costs rounded out the top five most important factors considered by new-car shoppers.
Performance Capabilities received a moderate score of 56, a second place ranking for luxury car respondents, just behind Vehicle Design.
Car respondents ranked Versatility/Utility, Incentive Availability and Advanced Technologies as the three least important factors.
For SUV and truck buyers, Ownership Cost was the second most important purchase attribute with a score of 83, just one point behind Fuel Economy.
“The close proximity of these two factors resulted from the broad composition of SUV and truck respondents, which was comprised of consumers shopping for pickup trucks and SUVs of all sizes,” said Banks.
“Shoppers of small SUVs ranked Fuel Economy as their top concern and Ownership Costs as third, while shoppers for mid-size and large trucks ranked Ownership costs as their top concern and Fuel Economy third. Results indicate that larger truck shoppers want to maximize fuel economy, but they also understand that the added size required to support their household and recreational needs will result in higher gasoline costs. To compensate for this, buyers will look to reduce maintenance expenses and purchase dependable trucks with solid used value retention,” Banks added.
Truck shoppers, similar to car shoppers, rated Safety and Brand Perception as the third and fourth most important purchase considerations with rankings of 69 and 68, respectively. Vehicle Design and Versatility/Utility followed closely behind with respective scores of 65 and 63.
Brand Preference ranked fourth for truck shoppers overall, but was the No. 1 most important attribute for pickup shoppers who are loyal to specific brands in the pickup truck segment.
With an average score of 58, Performance Capabilities was ranked seventh by truck shoppers, but pickup truck shoppers ranked Performance fourth. Luxury truck shoppers, just like luxury car shoppers, ranked Performance as the second most important purchase factor. helps consumers to research new and used cars compare prices, fuel economy, warranty and other important purchase factors for multiple new or used vehicles side-by-side.