Used car prices have come down some, according to the latest Consumer Price Index. They dropped a little bit last month, for the fifth month in a row, and are now 3.3% lower than they were a year ago.
But let’s get one thing straight right off the bat: Used cars are still a lot more expensive than they were a couple of years ago.
“You might remember it wasn’t that long ago we were seeing 30% year-over-year increases in used vehicle pricing,” said Mike Wall with S&P Global Mobility, a Marketplace underwriter. “So this kind of erosion, not necessarily unexpected, either. It’s sort of the laws of gravity, to some extent: what goes up eventually will start to come down.”
At least, a little.
Michelle Krebs at Cox Automotive said part of the reason that’s happening now is that the cost of so much else has been going up.
“Some used car shoppers have been pushed out because they have other priorities,” she said. “Everything is costing them more. And so, they’re putting off buying a car perhaps because they’ve got heat to pay for and groceries have gone up.”
Interest rates on used car loans have gone way up, too, she said. Which is also driving demand down.
“Because the math just doesn’t work for some people when you look at the monthly payment,” Krebs said.
On the supply side, the number of used cars available has returned to a more normal level.
Sam Fiorani at AutoForecast Solutions said that change is visible: “It’s interesting to drive by a car dealership and see used cars on the lot, whereas just a couple of years ago, those lots were vacant,” he said. “It was amazing to drive by a car dealership and not see cars out front.”
But even though all that’s helped bring prices down a bit, Fiorani said it’s unlikely they’ll drop all the wayback to pre-pandemic levels any time soon.
There’s a lot happening in the world. Through it all, Marketplace is here for you.
You rely on Marketplace to break down the world’s events and tell you how it affects you in a fact-based, approachable way. We rely on your financial support to keep making that possible.
Your donation today powers the independent journalism that you rely on. For just $5/month, you can help sustain Marketplace so we can keep reporting on the things that matter to you.