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Trade-in madness: Man gets original price for 2-year-old car

Drives Tesla 15,000 miles, pays nothing for it
Posted at 10:52 AM, Aug 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-03 14:39:38-04

If you've been shopping for a car, you are probably aware of the new-car shortages and soaring prices for 2- and 3-year-old used cars.

But there's a flip side to this, and it could make you some cash.

Some people selling and exchanging their vehicles are getting as much money or even more than what they originally paid.

Kyle Peavley of Maineville, Ohio, just bought a cute little BMW with all the money he made selling his 2019 Tesla.

"When I went online and got a quote for my trade-in, I was kind of shocked," he said. "I was like, 'They're going to pay me what I bought it for new?'"

Kyle had driven his white Tesla Model 3 for almost two years, racking up 15,000 miles driving from Maineville to Hamilton every day, plus regular road trips.

But a dealer desperate for cars to sell agreed to pay him the original selling price.

"So it originally cost $39,999, which is what I bought it for, and I sold it for $39,997," Peavley said.

Yes, he drove his Tesla almost two years for just $2.

Jealous yet?

He never had to pay for an oil change (since it's electric, of course), or any service, as it was under warranty.

Used pickups, three-row SUVs command premiums

This is not the case with all vehicles. It has to be something in high demand. A used Chevy Malibu or Toyota Corolla won't command a premium.

But if you have a 2-year old pickup truck or three-row SUV, you might be amazed at what dealers will offer you for it.

"I had some friends of mine who were paid more than they purchased their truck for, and they made a little money for it," Peavley said.

Some 1- to 2-year-old used vehicles now cost more than the sticker price on that same vehicle brand new, according to the auto analytics site

Among them, the:

  • KIA Telluride SUV: a 1- to 2-year-old version can cost more than $3,000 more than the new one, since new Tellurides are almost impossible to find.
  • GMC Sierra pickup: it commands $3,000 more used.
  • Toyota Tacoma pickup: $3,000 more used.

iSeeCars says many other pickups and large SUVs (including the Ford F-150, Chevy Silverado, and Hyundai Palisade) are selling for $1,000 more as a used car than brand new, because of shortages of new versions.

If you have one to trade in, Peavley says, consider doing it now.

"My grandmother always told me, 'When you drive it off the lot, it loses half its value,'" he said. "That's just not true."

This upside-down car market is not expected to last: Dealers now report more new cars coming in as the chip shortage starts to ease.

And they expect used prices to drop this fall, as lots start to fill again with new cars.

To look up your car's value, check Kelley Blue Book or

For websites that will make you an offer and buy your car, tryCarvana, Vroom, or WeBuyAnyCar.

As always, don't waste your money.


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