“Walking onto the dealer lot, I was immediately overwhelmed,” says Heather, slumping her shoulders. Frustrated, the working mother of two from Sherman Oaks, California, had just spent a few hours shopping used cars with her teenage daughter. “After looking at a few cars online, we decided to drive over to the local row of dealers to check out the used cars. But there were so many. It was overwhelming. Where do all of those used cars come from? Where do the dealers get them?”
The answers to Heather's questions aren’t as complicated as some used car shoppers may think. The origins of any car dealer’s used car inventory aren’t exactly a secret. And they certainly aren’t the result of some dark web operation or shady cloak-and-dagger dealings. The truth is, most car dealers stock their used car lots with cars customers trade in on new models or vehicles they bought at local auctions, which are attended exclusively by dealers. But there are a few other supply chains to keep used car lots stocked. Here we’ll explain each of those supply chains and why it’s important information for any used car shopper.