The Baltimore auto marketplace offers a comprehensive array of options for new and prospective residents. As Maryland has more millionaires than any other state, Baltimore dealerships carry a relatively large number of high-end vehicles designed to meet the needs and tastes of the state’s elite. At the same time, however, both the new and used vehicle markets are bursting with lower-cost options for residents who cannot or do not want to spend top dollar for a car.
Like other cities, Baltimore’s auto sales market is subject to unsavory activity. Curbstoning, or selling vehicles without a license or proper paperwork, is an ever-present problem, leading authorities to offer strong warnings to the public about taking proper precautions when buying or selling a vehicle. However, with a little bit of attention and responsibility, Baltimore residents can have their pick of excellent quality new and used vehicles at affordable prices.
Are vehicles necessary in Baltimore?
Baltimore auto trends suggest that while a vehicle may not be technically necessary, the majority of the population prefers to keep a personal vehicle. The average household has 1.8 vehicles for personal use, and the city is largely designed around the assumption of private transit.
The need for a vehicle is somewhat emphasized by the city’s housing distribution. While top-earning CEOs and other executives may be able to afford the expensive housing in the city’s heart alongside commercial centers, many residents find housing outside these central blocks significantly more affordable. Residents who make their homes in these areas will need Baltimore cars, trucks or other vehicles to reliably commute to and from work.
Buying Versus Leasing in Baltimore
Residents in need of a vehicle will find they have many more options than simply heading over to the nearest Baltimore car broker to buy one. For some residents who live in the same section of the city in which they work and play, occasional car rental or ride-sharing might be enough to meet their needs.
For others, leasing can be an ideal option. Leased vehicles are typically most attractive to motorists who:
- Need or want new vehicles every few years.
- Cannot or do not want to maintain a vehicle personally, and therefore benefit tremendously from always have a vehicle under full warranty.
- Do not drive excessively.
- Prefer to avoid the hassles of selling or trading in vehicles when they are finished with them.
While leasing is often perceived as more expensive than buying, it can be the same price or even less expensive for motorists who change vehicles often or who cannot maintain their own vehicles. Long term, however, buying is typically cheaper for motorists who prefer to keep and maintain a single vehicle for as long as possible. This can be particularly true for vehicles purchased inexpensively though a Baltimore auto auction or other low-cost source.
New Versus Used Cars in Baltimore
As of June 2019, residents were buying more than twice as many used cars in Baltimore than new ones. The year-to-date average cost of new cars for sale in Baltimore was $34, 926. Used cars, by contrast, cost an average of $11,554.
Certainly, residents purchasing new cars received an array of advantages for the extra money spent. By working with licensed dealers, they benefited from the legal protections associated with doing so. Nearly all new vehicle purchases include warranties and assistance with the Department of Vehicles paperwork required to title and register the vehicle, as well. New car buyers may also have had the opportunity to take advantage of the latest in technology and vehicle customization options, as well.
Residents purchasing used vehicles inherently assumed more responsibility, not only for the paperwork but for ensuring that the cars were sound and safe to drive as well as legally offered for sale. However, for residents comfortable with these tasks, the savings was substantial.
Due to a national increase in curbstoning, or the illegal sale of used vehicles by unlicensed dealers pretending to be private sellers, Baltimore authorities recommend that buyers avoid purchasing vehicles through private sales if:
- Sellers are offering vehicles for sale under titles that are not in their names.
- Sellers are offering numerous vehicles via ads or at a consolidated site without posted evidence of licensing to do so.
- Vehicles are missing license plates, bearing temporary plates or dealer plates, or bearing out-of-state license plates.
Baltimore Auto Pricing and Trends
Baltimore auto show and vehicle sale records suggest that the best time to purchase a vehicle in the city is in the spring, specifically between February and April as both new and used cars trend toward less expensive pricing during those months.
Despite its heavy population density and city landscape, Baltimore mirrors national trends when it comes to vehicle popularity. As of January 2018, official surveys found that the most popular and most frequently owned vehicles among residents were:
- Ford F-Series Pickup Trucks
- Honda CR-V SUVs
- Toyota RAV4 SUVs
- Honda Civic Compacts
- Toyota Camry Sedans
In each case, local sales matched, nearly matched or exceeded national sales rates for the vehicles’ makes and models.
Baltimore Vehicle Ownership Costs
Residents considering buying Baltimore cars or bringing vehicles they already own with them to the state must also take into consideration the basic costs of vehicle ownership in-state. First, Maryland requires that all vehicles carry basic insurance coverage at all times. Minimum coverage limits are:
- $30,000 in bodily injury coverage for a single person
- $60,000 in bodily injury coverage for accidents involving two or more people
- $15,000 in property damage coverage
Proof of insurance is required to title and register a vehicle, and fees for failing to hold sufficient coverage range from $150 to $2,500, annually.
Baltimore auto laws also mandate the following costs for all vehicle owners:
- Vehicle Emissions Inspections ($10 – $14 each)
- Title Certificate ($100)
- Title tax (Six percent of the vehicle’s sale or Fair Market Value price)
- Vehicle registration ($10)
Keep in mind that additional fees may also apply.
While these costs are not excessive, it is essential for vehicle owners to take them into consideration when making vehicle purchasing and ownership decisions in Baltimore.