CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -
While most of the time a used-car shopper isn’t going to stray far from home to buy a vehicle, in certain cases it actually makes more financial sense for them to take a flight to a city where car prices are considerably less expensive.
Or as CarGurus puts it, “Fly to Buy.”
Analysts with the company found that because of the way used-car prices differ across the country, flying to a city with significantly lower used-car prices can sometimes be a cheaper option for the consumer — even when travel costs are considered.
“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,” CarGurus data analyst Lisa Rosenberg said in a news release.
“Even for less ambitious shoppers, this research highlights just how much variability can exist on used-car prices in different markets,” she said. “Expanding your search area even moderately can sometimes unearth opportunities to save.”
CarGurus gives the theoretical example of an Albany, N.Y. car shopper looking to buy a 2015 Ford Mustang.
If the shopper booked a one-way plane ticket to Miami to buy the car instead, then drove the car back to New York, he or she would save over $2,000.
And that includes fuel and plane costs.
Similarly, an Albuquerque, N.M., shopper can hop on a jet to Dallas and save $1,900 when he or she buys a 2007 BMW 3 Series.
And one trip CarGurus listed netted savings of more than $4,000.
If a shopper is willing to trek across the country from San Jose, Calif. to Buffalo, N.Y. to buy their 2014 Chevrolet Silverado, doing so could save $4,347.
If a Nashville Predators fan wants to commiserate with a Cleveland Cavaliers fan, flying from the Music City to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame will net a savings of $3,307 on a 2013 Ford F-150.
All told, CarGurus listed what it found to be the top Fly to Buy routes for popular vehicles, which include:
2007 Chevy Tahoe: Reno, Nev. to New York – estimated savings of $2,224
2013 Ford F-150: Nashville, Tenn. to Cleveland – estimated savings of $3,307
2014 Chevy Silverado: San Jose, Calif. to Buffalo, N.Y. – estimated savings of $4,347
2014 Chevy Silverado: Sacramento, Calif. to Boston – estimated savings of $3,036
2007 BMW 3 Series: Albuquerque, N.M. to Dallas – estimated savings of $1,871
2010 Chevy Camaro: Louisville, Ky. to Miami – estimated savings of $1,781
2006 Dodge Charger: Jackson, Miss. to Washington, D.C. – estimated savings of $1,392
2006 Dodge Charger: Memphis, Tenn. to Miami – estimated savings of $2,239
2007 Toyota Camry: El Paso, Texas to Chicago – estimated savings of $1,877
CarGurus determined the savings by taking Instant Market Value data on more than 5 million used cars in the Lower 48 states, determining the IMV on poplar used vehicles in each metro area, then comparing the various metro areas.
The savings account for average airfare costs based on U.S. Department of Transportation Domestic Airline Consumer Airfare Report from the third quarter of 2016; fuel costs based on AAA figures from June 5; and it defined metro areas as 50 miles around the center of a given city.
For more from CarGurus, check out our podcast below with chief revenue officer Sam Zales.