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New study: Flying to buy a used car can save up to $2,000

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Mike Timmermann, Clark.com

If you’re looking for a great deal on a used car, you might think that your search begins and ends with a local, private seller. But flying to buy a car may really be your best bet!

Read more: Kia again ranks #1 in J.D. Power initial quality ratings

Fly to Buy: Turn car shopping into an adventure!

Since used car prices can vary significantly depending on where you live, it’s possible to save money by booking a one-way plane ticket to another city, buying a car there and driving it back home.

How much money are we talking about? In some cases, the difference is more than $2,000!

According to data from CarGurus.com, someone living in Albany, New York, could save $2,065 on a 2015 Ford Mustang by flying to Miami to purchase it.

Here are some other “Fly to Buy” deals for the 2015 Ford Mustang:

  • Birmingham, AL to Houston, TX – estimated savings of $1,375
  • Grand Rapids, MI to Tampa, FL – estimated savings of $1,363
  • Fresno, CA to San Diego, CA – estimated savings of $1,297
  • Des Moines, ID to Dallas, TX – estimated savings of $1,038
  • Portland, OR to Boise, ID – estimated savings of $1,135
  • Memphis, TN to Orlando, FL – estimated savings of $1,135
  • Nashville, TN to Las Vegas, NV – estimated savings of $1,113

These figures factor in the average cost of both a plane ticket and the gasoline you would need for the road trip home, but hotel expenses aren’t included.

Keep in mind, that drive from Miami to Albany would take more than 20 hours, according to Google Maps.

“Shopping local makes sense for most car shoppers, but the adventurous deal-seeker could find a used car far outside their home region and still see big savings—with the added bonus of a fun summer road trip.” said Lisa Rosenberg, Data Analyst at CarGurus. “Even for less ambitious shoppers, this research highlights just how much variability can exist on used car prices in different markets. Expanding your search area even moderately can sometimes unearth opportunities to save.”

Clark’s takeaway for used car buyers

Bottom line: When you’re researching used car options online, consider expanding your search area to save money. And don’t forget the things every used car buyer should do:

  1. Check the vehicle history report. Run the VIN though CarFax.com to find out if it’s a flood vehicle or if it has been in a horrible accident.
  2. Have the used vehicle inspected by an independent mechanic. One of the key things to know about buying a used car is that you buy “as is.” CarFax alone is not enough of a check; you need to take this additional step.

Finally, arrange auto financing in advance! Look at credit unions, online banks or even traditional banks. Only take dealer financing if it beats any other offer you have.

Read more: These 15 vehicles are the cheapest to insure

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