Want CNET to notify you of price drops and the latest stories?

Flying across the country could save you money on a car purchase

Expand your search beyond your local area, and you could save a decent chunk of change, but you'll have to work for it.

Andrew Krok Reviews Editor / Cars
Cars are Andrew's jam, as is strawberry. After spending years as a regular ol' car fanatic, he started working his way through the echelons of the automotive industry, starting out as social-media director of a small European-focused garage outside of Chicago. From there, he moved to the editorial side, penning several written features in Total 911 Magazine before becoming a full-time auto writer, first for a local Chicago outlet and then for CNET Cars.
Andrew Krok
2 min read
Ford Mustangs Around the World

Trying to find the perfect used car is a pain, especially if you're keeping it local. But if you're willing to expand your boundaries by, well, a lot, you might be able to save a huge chunk of change.

CarGurus crunched a whole bunch of numbers, and it unveiled what it calls "Fly to Buy." Basically, if you're willing to expand your used-car search area to the entire nation, you can save thousands on a used car by flying one-way to buy the car and driving it home. You'll still make a substantial saving even after factoring in the cost of gas and plane tickets.

Enlarge Image

The cross-country trips might be a bit more annoying than the short jaunts, but it's interesting to see how much money this could save you either way.


As an example, CarGurus looked at the data for the 2015 Ford Mustang. A buyer in Grand Rapids, Michigan could save more than $1,300 by flying to Tampa and buying a Mustang there. In terms of shorter trips, Portland residents could save $1,135 by flying to Boise, and Fresno denizens could save almost as much by flying down to San Diego.

Of course, not everybody wants to fly one-way to pick a car up. Round-trip tickets can be just as cheap as one-way tickets, and shipping a car can cost as little as a few hundred bucks. You may still be able to save money by flying to check out a car and shipping it home, but the savings won't be as high.

There's also the matter of purchasing a car sight unseen. Not everyone has a national network of friends willing to check out a car, so buyers will have to exercise a bit of faith when booking tickets and flying across the country to check out a used car. It all depends on how badly you want a specific model, and how much you're willing to work for it.

"Shopping local makes sense for most car shoppers, but the adventurous deal-seeker could find a used car far outside their home region and still see big savings -- with the added bonus of a fun summer road trip," said Lisa Rosenberg, Data Analyst at CarGurus, in a statement. "Even for less ambitious shoppers, this research highlights just how much variability can exist on used car prices in different markets. Expanding your search area even moderately can sometimes unearth opportunities to save."