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Chrysler, Ford, GM, Honda all saw gains in March in the Valley.

Car sales nationwide reached the highest level since August 2007, not long before the nation's economy went into a deep recession. March is typically strong for auto dealers because of people putting tax refunds into a new vehicle, but Scott Gruwell with Courtesy Chevrolet said at least part of the big boost in sales can be traced to the housing recovery because construction companies that have been babying some old trucks are now more willing to spend money on a new one.

"We have seen a substantial amount of contractors replacing vehicles that are frankly worn out. Construction is starting to move again."

Some of the trade-ins have 200,000 miles.

Gruwell said Ford 150s, Chevy Silverados and Dodge Ram trucks are leading the way in sales across the Valley.

Autodata said 1.5 million cars and trucks were sold nationally in March, 3.4 percent above March 2012. Gruwell said his sales are up by 12 percent from last year and by almost 300 percent from March 2009.

Jim Cross, Reporter

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