Dear Driving for Dollars,
A friend of mine says he is friends with an owner of a car dealership and that the best prices are on cars that have 5,000 to 6,000 miles on them because they are like new, but with a low number of miles on them. Is there any truth to that?
— Lonnie Looking-for-a-deal

Dear Lonnie,
You bet there’s truth to that. The reason is that the greatest hit of depreciation of a new car occurs right when you drive it off the lot, so the car is effectively worth thousands less before you even put it in your garage for the first time. So, if you don’t mind a “new” car that lacks the new car smell, and has a few thousand miles and some minor wear and tear, purchasing a near-new used car can save you several thousand dollars.

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Read more Driving for Dollars columns and Bankrate auto stories. Tara Baukus Mello is a freelance writer who has written about automotive topics of interest to consumers since 1995. If you have a car question, e-mail it to us at Driving for Dollars.