An abundance of dealers in metro New York may account for it ranking first in a study of cities with great used-car deals.

In an analysis of 30 million pre-owned cars listed on over the past year, New York had twice the number of bargains (37.6%) than Los Angeles (18.9%), even though the two markets offered a similar number of used cars for sale.

“It may be due to greater competition,” CEO and founder Phong Ly tells WardsAuto. “New York has 30% more dealers than Los Angeles.”

His search-engine firm dubs a used car a “deal” if it is priced at least 5% below iSeeCars’ estimated market value. The company uses a proprietary algorithm to determine used-car market values. Factors include make, model, year, trim levels, options and mileage. 

The study focused on used cars priced at $15,000 and under, and only included designated U.S. cities with at least 50,000 used cars listed for sale.

Prices averaged 10% to 14% below market value in the top 10 cities overall, not just big metro areas. Eight of that group are on the East Coast.

After New York, Detroit ranks No.2 in the top 20 list of big markets with the most used-car deals under $15,000. The Motor City had 36.2% such deals.

Next come Cleveland-Akron, OH (35.1%); Miami-Fort Lauderdale (33.2%); and metro Washington (30.7%).

At the bottom of that list are Denver (17.4%), Sacramento-Stockton-Modesto, CA (13%) and Seattle-Tacoma (12.6%) in the cellar at No.20.       

Online used-car shoppers who widen the geographic range of their searches can significantly increase their chances of finding good deals, Ly says.

“We learned that Washington had close to four times the number of deals as nearby Baltimore,” he says. “Again, it likely comes down to one area being more competitive because it has more dealers.”

Two hours is as long as most people are willing to spend traveling to buy a used car, Ly says.

In another study, the San Francisco area ranks No.1 for large U.S. cities with most used cars getting the best fuel economy.

“The top three cities with the highest percentage of eco-friendly cars are all in California, perhaps not too surprising since the state has some of the best incentives for buying hybrid and electric cars,” Ly says.

Nearly 10% of the used cars on the road in the San Francisco market obtained fuel economies of 30 mpg (7.8L/100 km) or higher.

In contrast, the city with the worst used-car fuel economy is Detroit, where big SUVs seem like the vehicle of choice. In metro Detroit, 71.2% of used vehicles get 22.5 mpg (10.5L/100 km) or less, according to the study.