for an old/used car a major factor in total cost of ownership is the repairs costs. Repairs costs are driven first and foremost by the salaries of auto mechanics. In 3rd world countries mechanics have lower salaries than in the West, are less regulated and might find it easier to avoid paying corporate taxes.
Based on the above notions (is any of them wrong, btw?) we should conclude that it’s cheaper to own the same used car in a poor country than in America. If that’s the case, economic rationality suggests that the used cars should cost a lot more over there than here. In a hypothetical extreme case, if in poor Ruritania the car mechanics repair cars for free for up to 10 years of car life, we would expect a 2 year old used car to be worth 80% of the cost of a new car, whereas a similar used car in America AFAIU is a lot cheaper than that.
Well, if the above argument is valid, why do used cars even sell in America in the first place? Why don’t foreign buyers, let’s say from nearby Mexico, just buy them up since they should be willing to pay more than Americans? Conversely, why don’t prices of used cars in America get pushed up to the higher levels we would expect to see in Mexico, automatically encouraging Americans to sell/replace their cars let’s say on the 4th year of life or at whichever point that a typical car starts to require significant amount of maintenance and repair work?