EPA Wants to Help You Sell Your Used Car

WASHINGTON - MAY 25: An enlarged label shows fuel economy information of a 2011 Nissan Leaf is displayed during a news conference to announce new fuel economy labels for auto vehicles at the Department of Transportation May 25, 2011 in Washington, DC. The new labels will provide more fuel efficiency information, including estimated annual fuel costs, savings, and information on vehicles' environmental impact. 
National Journal
Alex Brown
Add to Briefcase
See more stories about...
Alex Brown
Oct. 1, 2013, 5:59 p.m.

The En­vir­on­ment­al Pro­tec­tion Agency wants to help you sell your used car. But you may not want its help.

For al­most a year, EPA has re­quired re­vamped fuel-eco­nomy stick­ers to be plastered on all new cars and light-duty trucks. Now, the agency, along with the En­ergy De­part­ment, is of­fer­ing the print­able la­bels for used vehicles on fuele­conomy.gov.

EPA’s Used Car La­bel Tool tracks makes and mod­els dat­ing back to 1984, factor­ing in vari­ous en­gine and fuel op­tions to reach a gov­ern­ment-stand­ard fuel eco­nomy, along with in­form­a­tion on car­bon-di­ox­ide emis­sions. But adding that stick­er to your used car won’t ne­ces­sar­ily help you sell it.

“It’s great news for the car shop­per, per­haps not as good news for the car deal­er,” said Kel­sey Mays, con­sumer-af­fairs ed­it­or at Cars.com.

That’s be­cause the gov­ern­ment’s cal­cu­la­tions have changed since 2008, and cars man­u­fac­tured be­fore that have been down­graded about 2 to 3 miles per gal­lon from their ori­gin­al ad­vert­ised fuel eco­nomy.

“The older test was biased a little high,” said Doug Green­haus, chief coun­sel for en­vir­on­ment, health, and safety at the Na­tion­al Auto­mobile Deal­ers As­so­ci­ation. “In al­most every in­stance, [the new test] is a lower­ing.”

The new cal­cu­la­tions add factors such as ac­cel­er­a­tion, air-con­di­tion­er use, and out­side tem­per­at­ures.

Of course, some used cars nev­er got great gas mileage in the first place. The used-car mileage stick­er “does kind of ex­pose the fact that the car you’re try­ing to sell is not as ef­fi­cient as new­er al­tern­at­ives,” Mays said.

Karl Brauer, the Kel­ley Blue Book’s seni­or dir­ect­or of in­sights, said the stick­ers’ use on used cars will be var­ied.

“A used Toyota Pri­us or Honda Fit might fea­ture the stick­ers, but a Chev­ro­let Sil­verado or Dodge Chal­lenger R/T prob­ably won’t,” he said. “If they want to show off the fuel-sip­pers, that’s when they’ll use that la­bel.”

But if deal­er­ships choose to use the stick­ers se­lect­ively, Mays said, “that would be pretty easy to see through.”

Still, many in the in­dustry say used-car deal­ers aren’t up­set about the stick­ers, be­cause they already ex­pect today’s con­sumers to be know­ledge­able. “People are get­ting more in­form­a­tion,” said Auto­trader.com site ed­it­or Bri­an Moody.

Rather than sway­ing a con­sumer mak­ing a pur­chase on a whim, the stick­ers are more likely to help an in­formed cus­tom­er nar­row his or her op­tions. “Most people are look­ing for the car they want, and then they’re look­ing for a ver­sion of that car that gets good gas mileage,” Moody said.

The stick­ers provide uni­form­ity, al­low­ing con­sumers to see a trust­worthy es­tim­ate of fuel eco­nomy, rather than a com­pany fig­ure that may be skewed. Still, Moody said, the num­ber for used cars is “much less of a prom­ise and more of a guideline.”

Re­ac­tions were mixed re­gard­ing wheth­er the la­bels will be­come com­mon­place at deal­er­ships. “It prob­ably will,” Moody said, as used cars be­come more ef­fi­cient.

“Any­body who’s selling a car, deal­er­ships es­pe­cially, are go­ing to be look­ing for any edge they can get,” he said. “What bet­ter way to get that edge than an of­fi­cial stick­er from the gov­ern­ment?”

Brauer wasn’t so sure. “Car deal­ers don’t have to post these stick­ers, and most prob­ably won’t un­less they think it adds to a car’s ap­peal,” he said. “The over­all im­pact will likely be lim­ited un­less and un­til these stick­ers be­come man­dat­ory.”

What We're Following See More »
SHUTDOWN LOOMING
House Approves Spending Bill
14 hours ago
BREAKING

The House has completed it's business for 2016 by passing a spending bill which will keep the government funded through April 28. The final vote tally was 326-96. The bill's standing in the Senate is a bit tenuous at the moment, as a trio of Democratic Senators have pledged to block the bill unless coal miners get a permanent extension on retirement and health benefits. The government runs out of money on Friday night.

HEADS TO OBAMA
Senate Approves Defense Bill
15 hours ago
THE LATEST

The Senate passed the National Defense Authorization Act today, sending the $618 billion measure to President Obama. The president vetoed the defense authorization bill a year ago, but both houses could override his disapproval this time around.

Source:
ANTI-MINIMUM WAGE INCREASE
Trump Chooses Hardee’s/Carl’s Jr CEO as Labor Sec
17 hours ago
BREAKING
BUCKING THE BOSS?
Trump Cabinet Full of TPP Supporters
17 hours ago
WHY WE CARE

"President-elect Donald Trump railed against the Trans-Pacific Partnership on his way to winning the White House and has vowed immediately to withdraw the U.S. from the 12-nation accord. Several of his cabinet picks and other early nominees to top posts, however, have endorsed or spoken favorably about the trade pact, including Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, announced Wednesday as Mr. Trump’s pick for ambassador to China, and retired Marine Gen. James Mattis, Mr. Trump’s pick to head the Department of Defense."

Source:
WWE WRESTLING OWNER
Trump to Nominate Linda McMahon to Head SBA
1 days ago
THE LATEST
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login