Market factors drive used car prices higher; put pressure on buyers needing affordable transportation

ALLEN COUNTY, Ind. (WPTA21) – Used car sales prices in 2021 are leaving some customers with a feeling of sticker shock.

Edmunds, an online automotive resource that watches used car prices, says from April through June, the average price for a pre-owned vehicle in the U.S jumped 21% compared to one year earlier, the biggest increase for a three-month period that the company had ever tracked.

Is there some light at the end of the tunnel for people eager to get a different set of wheels?

Jay Leonard, the owner of Preferred Auto, believes sales prices at his stores in northeast Indiana are up between 12 and 16 percent over 2020.

But he says there’s no question prices have shot up.

New vehicle production has been cut by the big automakers because of the maddening semiconductor chip shortage, increasing demand for pre-owned cars and trucks and that, of course, doesn’t help with used car pricing.

We caught up with a family from Warren on Tuesday that is shopping for a used compact car for their daughter who needs reliable transportation.

The first goal was to find something she can afford.

“It’s a tough market out there for her price range. We’re finding probably around about $5,000 higher than what we thought we would be looking at, somewhere in that price range,” said Cheryl Danals.

“It’s very hard because she’s a college student working part-time,” Danals said.

“Everybody is scrambling to get everything that they can get right now. And I’m lucky enough that I’m not sitting at an auction with my hand up having to pay those high prices. Because of the relationships we have, I’ve been able to buy cars away from the auction, which saves us thousands,” Jay Leonard said.

New car inventory is expected to rebound with the chip shortage tailing off over the next six months or so.

If that happens, it could move more buyers back to new vehicles and take some heat off used car pricing.

In the meantime, customers visiting new or used car lots will often feel the pinch of higher prices to get the vehicle they’re looking for.

Katherine E. Ackerman

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