BROADER TRENDS: Used vehicle prices helping prevent totals

Because strong used car values allow for higher repair costs before a damaged vehicle hits the total loss threshold, the steep rise in used car prices since early 2009 has been good news for those working on vehicles.
Manheim Consulting tracks used vehicle pricing using an index pegged at 100 in January of 1995. It hit peaks above 115 in 2001, 2006 and 2007 – before plummeting to below 100 in late 2008. It has climbed fairly steadily since then, peaking above 127 early last year, before dipping back to just below 125 late last year – still a historically very high level.
Most analysts predict used vehicle values will remain strong in 2012. One reason: Three years after new-car sales slumped with the economy, there are far fewer 3-year-lease vehicles being turned back in. Only 90,000 leased BMWs were returned last year, for example, compared to 138,000 in 2008.