By Jim Donovan

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — U.S. auto sales hit a five-year high in 2012. Experts credit low interest rates, improving consumer confidence and better designs. Even Superstorm Sandy is getting some credit as people rushed to replaced damaged cars. GM sales were up 3 point 7 percent. Chrysler sales rose 21 percent last year. Volkswagen was up 35 percent.

2013 is also expected to be a good year for the auto industry. 3 On Your Side Consumer Reporter Jim Donovan finds that as many as 40 new vehicles will be introduced into the market. They will be either re-designs or totally new cars, trucks and SUV’s. Automakers are hoping to sell a million more cars than they did last year and even used car buyers are starting to see signs of improvement when heading into car lots.

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At Springfield Ford in Delaware County, General Sales Manager Steve Amabile expects good things for 2013. He says, “I do think it’s going to be another year of good programs for the consumer. Because the inventory is good.”

Last year Ford car sales were up 5 percent and the automaker sold over 2 million vehicles nationwide. According to Amabile, “We’re seeing a lot of people that are back in the normal trade cycle, come back in with the 4, 5, 6 year old vehicles.”

Jeannine Fallon with the automotive site says this pick-up in activity also helps used car buyers. She says, “Somebody shopping for a used car 6 to 8 months ago was probably having a hard time finding exactly what they wanted. The inventory just wasn’t there. But now a lot of cars have come back off lease, and a lot of people have been trading in their used cars to buy something new. There’s more inventory to choose from and it’s good for everyone.” This also helps to push prices down on used cars

If you’re interested in buying a used car:

– You can check out a vehicle’s resale value on sites like Kelley Blue Book or

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– You can obtain information about a car’s history, like past accident damage, on Carfax.

– Above all else be sure to have the vehicle inspected by a mechanic you trust BEFORE you sign on the dotted line.

By the way, the average car on U.S. roads in 2012 was over 11 years old! Since that’s the average, that means quite a few are even older, some are 15 years or even older! Tough economy or not, eventually they’ll have to be replaced.

For links to sites mentioned in this report, click below:


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