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Shopping for a car? Used auto prices take a tumble

Come on down! Used car prices are tumbling sharply and likely to slide through 2016, according to pricing trends.

Customers shop for used vehicles at a CarMax in Burbank, Calif.
Patrick T. Fallon | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Customers shop for used vehicles at a CarMax in Burbank, Calif.

There are a few exceptions, such as pickup trucks, which have been in increasingly high demand as contractors and fleets rebound along with the economy. But there are deals to be had on "nearly new" luxury cars and a number of other models, according to Tom Webb, chief economist for Manheim, which runs used vehicle wholesale auctions.

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He said a typical midsize sedan that might have cost $15,000 in June was going for about 2 percent less in July, or around $14,700. The Black Book, which tracks vehicle values for dealers, estimates that values at the dealer level slumped from an average $22,863 in August 2013 to $20,463 by July this year, an 11.8 percent decline.

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Used car prices took what Webb called an "unprecedented" surge in 2008, hitting an all-time peak three years later and generally holding at above-trend numbers until now. The reason? A lack of supply. But the new car market has rebounded faster than anticipated, so there is a growing supply of used vehicles available, driving down prices.

By CNBC Contributor Paul A. Eisenstein. Follow him on Twitter @DetroitBureau or at thedetroitbureau.com.

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