We're Running Out of Popular Used Cars Thanks to the Recession

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Independent used car dealers make most of their sales from cars around six years old, according to Automotive News, but due to the recession of 2008, they’re running out of them.

Sale of used cars aged between five to eight years old and nine to 12 years old are each down around 700,000 units, and it’s directly related to a slow down in global production and U.S. car sales in the country during the great recession, Jonathan Smoke, chief economist at Cox Automotive told Automotive News.


Global automotive production drastically declined after 2008, going from 53.2 million units produced in 2007 to a low of 47.77 million cars produced in 2009. Six years ago, in 2012, global production was only at 63.07 million cars, compared to 73.46 million in 2017.

Not only were fewer cars being manufactured, but fewer people were buying new cars during the recession in the U.S. The country’s car sales dropped from 7.56 million in 2007 to a low of 5.4 million in 2009.


Pair those numbers with the assumption to expect fewer older cars to still be on the market just due to wear and tear, and it makes sense that the used market would be struggling to find those models to fill their lots.

Smoke tells Auto News that, while independent used dealers are struggling to find their “bread and butter” cars to sell, the used car market has still seen a lot of growth. Here’s more from Auto News:

Overall, the used car business is booming with sales having grown by almost 3.4 million units since 2014, Smoke said. However, almost all of the growth has occurred at the ends of the spectrum, with sales of vehicles under four years old up by 2.6 million units over the four years and sales of vehicles 17 years and older up by 1.7 million units, he said.


The good news for independent car dealers is, well, the car market got better again and time is linear, so just hang in there and watch the six-year old second-and-third owner cars come rushing back in. Theoretically.