In mid-May, a customer visited McRee Ford in suburban Houston looking for a fuel-efficient car. He wanted to trade in a 2008 Ford F-250 diesel pickup he had bought for $53,000 just three months earlier.
Dealer Mitchell Dale shopped the truck with his wholesale buying sources. The best offer: $35,000. Dale said the customer kept the truck.
"The prices dropped so fast," Dale told Automotive News. "At the auction, with heavy-duty trucks, you used to get all the money. Now you won't even get a bid. It's just amazing."
For used vehicles as well as new ones, rapidly rising fuel prices are causing consumers to shun big trucks in favor of smaller cars and crossovers. As sales of gasoline-thirsty used vehicles have slumped, so have their prices.
In March and April, used full-sized pickups such as the Ford F series sold for an average retail price of $18,431, down 5.6 percent from the year-ago period, according to J.D. Power and Associates' Power Information Network.
At the same time, demand for used small cars is driving up their prices, Power said. Basic compact cars, such as the Toyota Yaris, sold for an average retail price of $10,039 in March and April, up 7.3 percent from the same months of 2007.