YONKERS, N.Y. (CBS 2) — Looking for a good investment? You may have to look no further than your driveway.

Auto industry experts are reporting the value of used cars has jumped nearly 16 percent in the past year – so is it time to sell?

CBS 2’s Lou Young took a sample of the local supply and demand.

Car salesman Jim Ingenito was hawking the hottest thing in car lots these days – a used vehicle for a high-end car buyer.

Ingenito was selling a Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited for $23,000. The car would cost almost twice that much brand new, but that’s just the way things are going. Used cars are hot, and Ingenito wants them.

“We’re giving top dollar now for any trade-in to try and make any deal, a new used car deal, any way we can – and the cars are bringing good money at the auctions,” Ingenito, of Central Avenue Chrysler, said.

Lingering economic anxiety does play a part in the improving used car market, but there’s also a problem with the production of new Japanese cars due to the twin disasters in Japan. As a result, there just aren’t enough of those cars to sell.

In addition, a lot of pre-owned vehicles aren’t your father’s version of a used car – many are former lease vehicles, which are typically in pretty good shape.

A three-year-old compact, for instance, can go for as much as $15,000.

“This car happens to be a small car, so it’s good on gas,” Ingenito said. “That makes it hotter now.”

“Most of them are driven for three years, most under mileage, so the engine has no wear and tear,” car shopper Jackie Bongiorno said. “You’re still getting a pretty good car for a pretty good price, and in this economy, that’s what people are looking for.”

A few years ago, a dealership like Ingenito’s was selling three new cars for every used car sale. The ratio these days is closer to two-to-one, and is likely to remain that way for the rest of the year.

Economy cars and hybrids are holding value the best. Experts suggest that you check the so-called “blue book” value of your vehicle before you begin any negotiations.

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