Car dealers looking for used cars that sip gas

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - High gas prices are playing a role in an unusual used car sales market these days, and it means some people could have an opportunity to sell their used cars for higher than average prices.

Ray and Pat Somerlad traded in two of their cars at East Coast Honda Wednesday. Because of rising gas prices fuel economy was one of their top priorities.

"Gas mileage is very important to us... especially with the price of gas right now," Pat said.

They feel they got a really good deal, and that deal was made even better because there is a bit of shortage of used cars right now. So dealerships are looking to get some on their lots to resell, especially if they are like the Somerlads' cars - already pretty good on gas.

"I imagine these cars would be easier to resell than some of these gas guzzlers," Ray said.

East Coast's President agreed. He said they are happy to take trade ins of any kind, but they feel most confident in the value of fuel efficient cars right now.

"Used vehicles still have good resale value right now because the market is demanding used cars, period, across the board, but fuel efficient cars as we trade them in right now are going to be worth more, and they're going to be worth more in the future," Smith said. "I mean the short-term future when fuel prices are really going to start peaking in June and July."

Smith said at this point there has not yet been a rush of people trading in gas guzzlers though, not like a few years ago when gas prices first approached $4 a gallon.

In fact at the Hadwin-White dealership they sold five big SUV's just last week.

"People who have the where-with-all to do it, they're still looking for the bigger vehicles," explained sales manager Jonathan Ward. "They want the luxury, the full-sized SUV."

Others who are looking for gas sippers may be considering an electric or hybrid car these days. They certainly do save money on gas, but they cost more up front because of the technology.

"You can get some straight gas model vehicles that get in the high 30's, and it'll save you a lot of money because you're not paying for all that extra technology," Smith said.

Ward pointed out that these days car manufacturers are paying more attention to gas mileage. So buyers can find a gas sipper in lots of shapes and sizes, from small car to SUV.

"When you look at something that has that mid-30's gas mileage you have actually a full range of vehicles," Ward said. "[Also] you have a full-sized luxury sedan that you can get up to 36 miles per gallon."

The Somerlads certainly found a new gas option that works for them. They happily took advantage of good trade-in values to get new cars that will save them on the cost of gas.

"The new Honda Civic that gets up to 39 miles per gallon," Pat said.

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