As you've probably discovered when hunting in the classified adverts for a used fuel-efficient vehicle, the latest batch of hybrids and small cars holds its value quite well.

With high gas prices and limited supply, that's not much of a surprise. But the situation is getting better, and it's thanks to a boom in new car sales over the last few years.

The Associated Press reports that used prices have been dropping since mid 2011, when they hit their highest peak since 1995.

That followed two years of poor new car sales on the back of the global economic crisis in 2008 and 2009, and meant that for a while at least, it made more sense buying new than paying over the odds for an overpriced used car.

On average, a used car buyer can expect to pay 25-30 percent less than retail for a three-year old used car, saving thousands over a similar vehicle just a few years ago.

Five Best Used Green Cars To Buy

While all segments have dropped over the last few years, small cars and hybrids are looking tempting right now.

The price of a Honda Civic or Ford Focus is around 8.5 percent lower than it was just three months ago, according to Kelly Blue Book--while the price of a 2010 Toyota Prius has dropped 15 percent, from $18,600 to $15,800.

Those prices may also drop further before the end of the year, before a rise early next year as dealers begin to buy stock for the spring. The bottom line is that now is the time to get your hands on a hybrid or fuel-efficient vehicle, because you'll be picking up a bargain.

Obviously, low used prices aren't so great for anyone looking to sell right now. Better to hang on for that early-year rise before you trade in your nearly-new car...


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