Used car prices continue falling, but a good deal on a bad car is a potentially dangerous combination.

New vehicles are still selling a rapid pace, and used car sales are taking a hit as a result. The upside is that savvy buyers can find a really good deal on a used car these days.

Prices on older model vehicles are being particularly hit hard these days. According to the National Automobile Dealers Association says wholesale prices of vehicles up to eight years old fell by 3.6% in September, which is the largest drop this year.

The organization’s used car guide says used vehicle prices at the consumer level fell by 1%, pushing its used car price index to the lowest since March 2011.

“During the recession when new car sales dropped so dramatically, that took away the future used car supply. That is coming back, now that we’ve had a few years or robust recovery,” says NADA’s Jonathan Banks.

Late-model vehicles, especially those laden with options, can be had for cheap. Even better, a great deal can be had on used small cars, which are seeing the one of biggest decline in prices. Subcompact and compact car segment losses reached 4% in September, NADA says.

(To see more about the expected October sales slump, Click Here.)

While a thrifty buyer may skip the new car lots and go for Craig’s List, there are still plenty of issues to consider with that move. Older cars are often missing those high-end safety features that make newer models so alluring.

If you’re looking to give up some safety and technology for a lighter payment each month, it’s wise to know what to avoid overall. The latest list of top 12 “most dangerous” cars, assembled by the website 24/7 Wall St. may have some insights potential buyers find valuable.

The site compiles the list annually and uses data pulled from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, a nonprofit research organization funded by auto insurers. The IIHS conducts a number of crash tests to determine how well a vehicle minimizes the possibility of injury for its occupants in a collision.

(Click Here for details about how auto dealers keep new car prices down.)

To compile America’s most dangerous cars, the model must have received a poor or “marginal” rating in either the frontal crash impact or side crash impact safety tests — frontal and side impact collisions are the most fatal.

Here’s the list:

  • 2000-2005 Dodge Neon
  • 1996-2005 GMC Safari
  • 2001-2006 GMC Sierra 1500
  • 2006-2011 Hyundai Accent
  • 2001-2005 Kia Optima
  • 2006-2009 Kia Rio
  • 2000-2006 Mazda MPV
  • 2000-2006 Nissan Sentra
  • 1999-2005 Pontiac Grand Am
  • 2002-2005 Saturn L-Series
  • 2005-2008 Suzuki Forenza
  • 2003-2005 Suzuki Grand Vitara

“Additionally, a car must have also received a “poor” rating on either the roof strength test, which simulates a vehicle rollover, or the head restraint and seat test, which simulates a rear-end collision,” the site noted. “As we are only looking for vehicles that are still likely driven on the roads today, we only reviewed generations of cars which included the 2005 model year or later.”

The website also points out that larger cars tend to be safer than smaller cars in frontal collisions. The heavier the oncoming car is and the shorter the distance between the occupant and the front of the car, the higher likelihood of injury.

(AutoNation embarks on major brand expansion. Click Here for details.)

Smaller, lighter cars carry a greater risk of injury, as occupants will experience greater force in a collision. In 2014, there were 55 driver deaths in subcompact cars per million registered vehicles, a far higher driver death rate than the 19 fatalities in very large cars per million registered vehicles.

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