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Fewer Used Cars Reported Sold in ’85

From Times Wire Services

American drivers bought 5.2% fewer used cars last year than in 1984, largely because motorists are holding on longer to their old automobiles, according to a study released Monday.

The annual survey by the rental car company Hertz also indicated that, despite a sliding market and the greater age of used cars sold, the average transaction price rose slightly--to $5,431 last year from $5,406 in 1984.

In contrast, the Hertz study showed that the average price for a new car was $10,166, with the typical compact car going for $9,843.

An estimated 16 million used cars changed hands last year, the survey said, with the typical vehicle 4.6 years old and carrying 45,270 miles on its odometer. A year earlier, the survey put the used-car market at 16.8 million, with cars averaging 4.5 years old and having been driven 45,439 miles.

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The aging of the nation’s car fleet was demonstrated by comparisons to 1979, the last year before the most recent economic recession, when the typical used car was just 2.9 years old, had been driven 29,090 miles and sold for $3,602.

That same year, the typical new compact car cost $5,079, meaning that prices since then have risen 94%.

Hertz said it calculates that nearly 129 million cars are now on U.S. highways, with each car having three owners during its lifetime.


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