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Fuel prices driving motorists to trade in autos

Used-car dealerships are booming, as long as they still have small cars to offer.

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Although they won't release specific numbers, some local auto dealerships say they are seeing an increase in the number of motorists looking to trade in and scale back on their vehicles for something more economical.

"We're seeing a shift from large SUVs to more fuel-efficient vehicles," said David Brown, sales manager of Carmax in Raleigh.

And it appears many drivers are heading to used lots to find a cheaper way to make the switch.

"We are seeing, actually, a higher sales volume because of that," said Bill Hooten, general manager of City Used Cars Inc.

Hooten says he keeps small foreign cars up front to increase traffic.

"Right now, the market is dictating a small gas-economy car," he said.

Some dealers say they have also seen some customers who plan to hold on to their SUVs but want to buy something used and smaller to drive to work.

"(They're just looking for) something just to commute or something with better gas mileage," Hooten said. "And (they) don't care how old it is, in some cases."

On the trade, large trucks and SUVs aren't worth as much anymore.

"I'm not going to be shocked, I think, when it comes back, and I see that its dropped quite a bit," said Delia Sturla, who is looking to replace her SUV.

She and others say it's all in the numbers and that it may be worth a loss if, in the end, the number on the sticker beats the number at the pump.


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