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Where to Find the Best Price on Popular Used Cars

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For consumers looking to save money by buying a used car, location matters. Miami may be a bargain-hunter’s best bet, and New York City has some good deals, too, according to a new analysis of used-vehicle listings from iSeeCars.

Of the 10 most popular used cars, as determined by vehicle search engine site iSeeCars, five are listed at their lowest prices in the Miami-Fort Lauderdale area. New York has the best prices for two of the most popular cars; the other cities on the list are Cleveland, Detroit and Buffalo, N.Y.

The site looked at about 30 million used car listings in the U.S. in the past 12 months and compiled a list of the 10 most popular cars, based on the vehicle’s sales rate (number of cars sold divided by number of cars available). From there, iSeeCars looked at those vehicles’ prices in the 50 largest metropolitan areas, using that data to calculate the average market price for each vehicle and determine the cities where the cars are least and most expensive. The company determined market prices using an “algorithm that analyzes similar cars for sale nationwide — those with the same year, make, model, trim, options, mileage, and other factors,” according to a news release.

The data pegged the following vehicles as the most popular used cars in the past year (in descending order by sales rate): Honda Accord, Ford Escape, Chevrolet Silverado 1500, Nissan Altima, Chevrolet Impala, Honda Civic, Chevrolet Malibu, Toyota Camry, BMW 3 Series and Ford F-150.

For deal-seekers, Memphis, Tenn., and Seattle aren’t the best places to buy one of these popular models. Memphis posted highest prices for the Altima, Malibu and Camry, while the Seattle-Tacoma, Wash., area had pricey Accords and Civics on the market.  St. Louis, Detroit, Indianapolis, Denver and Charlotte, N.C., also reported the highest prices for some of these popular cars. Detroit was the only city on both lists.

The Honda Accord — which is among Edmunds.com’s best used cars of 2013 — had the largest price gap between its best and worst deals. A shopper in Buffalo could get an Accord for 8.4% below the average market price of $15,098, while the Seattle shopper may spend 6.2% above that price for the same car.

Is it worth crossing the country to get a better deal on that used Accord you want? Not likely. But it always helps to have an idea of where to find a bargain and know that time spent comparing prices can translate into worthwhile savings.

Another factor that can impact the cost of your car is your financing options, which are more limited and have higher interest rates when your have subpar credit. If you’re planning on buying a car soon, you can check your credit scores using the free Credit Report Card.

The Best (and Worst) Deals on Popular Used Cars

Honda Accord

  • Average market price: $15,098
  • Where it’s cheap: Buffalo, N.Y. (-8.4%)
  • Where it’s pricey: Seattle-Tacoma, Wash. (+6.2%)

Ford Escape

  • Average market price: $19,137
  • Where it’s cheap: Miami-Fort Lauderdale, Fla. (-8.4%)
  • Where it’s pricey: Indianapolis (+5%)

Chevy Silverado 1500

  • Average market price: $18,928
  • Where it’s cheap: New York (-9.5%)
  • Where it’s pricey: Charlotte, N.C. (+4.1%)

Nissan Altima

  • Average market price: $15,760
  • Where it’s cheap: Miami (-6.2%)
  • Where it’s pricey: Memphis, Tenn. (+6.7%)

Chevy Impala

  • Average market price: $10,457
  • Where it’s cheap: Miami (-6.2%)
  • Where it’s pricey: St. Louis (+6.4%)

Honda Civic

  • Average market price: $13,920
  • Where it’s cheap: New York (-7.5%)
  • Where it’s pricey: Seattle (+4.7%)

Chevy Malibu

  • Average market price: $15,673
  • Where it’s cheap: Miami (-7.1%)
  • Where it’s pricey: Memphis (+4.7%)

Toyota Camry

  • Average market price: $15,177
  • Where it’s cheap: Cleveland-Akron, Ohio (6.6%)
  • Where it’s pricey: Memphis (+4.3%)

BMW 3 Series

  • Average market price: $25,039
  • Where it’s cheap: Miami (-5.6%)
  • Where it’s pricey: Detroit (+4.8%)

Ford F-150

  • Average market price: $21,483
  • Where it’s cheap: Detroit (-3.5%)
  • Where it’s pricey: Denver (+4.4%)

Image: iStock

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