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How much is the average used car in San Diego? 6 Factors That Impact Local Market Pricing
Buying Guide

icon/user/avatar/20 Created with Sketch. By Travis Triggs

Buying a used car can be a great way to get reliable transportation on a budget, but it's important to understand how used car prices vary by location. San Diego is one of the largest cities in California and used car prices here reflect the sizable auto market. According to various industry reports, the average price for a used car in San Diego is around $23,000 as of 2023. However, there are many factors that cause used car prices to fluctuate significantly within a given market.



The specific neighborhood where you purchase a used car in San Diego can make a big impact on the price. Cars tend to be more expensive at dealerships located in affluent areas downtown and in the northern coastal suburbs. However, you can often find good deals at dealers in areas further inland and to the south where demand is lower. The savings may outweigh the extra driving time to purchase the vehicle.


Vehicle Age and Mileage

On average, used car prices drop about 15% per year as vehicles age. A 1-year old used car in San Diego may retail close to the original MSRP, while a 10-year old car would sell for around 35% of its original new car price on average. Mileage also greatly impacts pricing, with lower mileage vehicles commanding higher prices. Around San Diego, you can expect to pay around $18,000 for a 5-year old compact car with 50,000 miles.


Vehicle Make and Model

Certain automobile makes and models hold their value better than others on the used market. Japanese brands like Toyota, Honda and Subaru tend to have strong resale value in the San Diego market. Domestic trucks from Ford, GM and Chrysler also sell well. Luxury cars like Mercedes and BMW can make great used purchases if past maintenance is documented. Research model-specific pricing guides for the San Diego market to set realistic expectations.


Dealership Versus Private Party

Purchasing through a dealership usually means paying a premium for factors like certification, financing, warranties and convenience. Private party sales can yield significant savings, but come with added risk. Dealership lots also charge higher prices for in-demand SUVs, trucks and sports cars versus basic sedans and economy cars.


Time of Year

Used car prices are seasonal with demand and pricing peaking around the spring and summer months. Prices are typically lower in the fall and winter months as dealers try to clear out old inventory. Even in temperate climates like San Diego, this seasonal variation can mean 10% swings in pricing.


Current Fuel Prices

As fuel prices rise, demand grows for hybrid and electric vehicles that promise increased fuel efficiency. In the San Diego market, this results in higher pricing for used hybrid and EV models from Toyota, Honda and others. Gas guzzling SUVs and trucks see lower demand resulting in prices dropping slightly.


In summary, San Diego offers one of the largest used car markets in California with competitive pricing and extensive inventory. While the average price for a used car is around $23,000, there are great deals to be found with some shopping around and flexibility. Considering the location, vehicle type, age, miles and time of year can yield significant savings on a quality pre-owned vehicle in San Diego.

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