Used-car Glut Is a Dealer’s Dream, Automakers’ Nightmare

Three years ago if a customer walked onto Dan Reel’s used car lot seeking a late-model off-lease Ford Escape, his answer was short: tough luck.

The supply of lightly-used cars and trucks was tight because automakers had drastically cut back on bargain leases during and after the Great Recession.

Recently, though, a computer search for available used vehicles within 150 miles of Reel revealed an eye-popping figure: 668 Escapes. That’s enough to put more than 40 percent of the inhabitants of this small northeastern Ohio town, population 1,600, into the popular crossover.

A search for the Chevrolet Equinox, a comparable crossover, showed 461 available.

“The automakers have flooded the market,” said Reel, owner of Reel’s Auto in Orwell, Ohio, about 40 miles east of Cleveland.

That deluge is good news for used-car dealers, auto auction houses and car buyers, who stand to benefit from a bountiful supply of high quality,

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