We receive a lot of questions from CarEdge Members, and this one comes to us nearly everyday; “Is now a good time to buy a car?” While the past year has been anything but normal (used car prices increased more than 35% in 2021), we may actually be coming up on a period of time where buying a car might make sense. I promise we’ll explain below.
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Let’s discuss if right now is a good time to buy a car. Whether you should buy new or used, or if you should consider leasing. Let’s also keep in mind that the same rule applies as it did last year: if you don’t need to buy a car right now, please don’t. Prices are inflated, and while we are seeing some renewed deal-making, that doesn’t necessarily reflect a “great” value.
Let’s dive in.
Is now a good time to buy a car
Yes. The short answer is “yes.” How can we possibly say that when used car prices have increased 35%+, and new cars are typically selling for MSRP (or more)? Well, the answer is pretty simple, we’re seeing that dealerships are starting to get nervous about the expensive inventory they’ve purchased, and some are ready to get back to deal-making.
This is true on both used and new vehicles.
Ryan’s deal is a perfect example of what’s possible in the used car market right now. This is nearly 12% under MSRP. For months now we have seen dealerships selling cars, trucks, and SUVs at well over MSRP, and this is proof that not all deals have to be that way.
New car inventory levels are slowly starting to creep back up, and while dealerships do not have as much inventory as they did pre-pandemic, they are slowly but surely beginning to negotiate again. If you are going to factory order a vehicle, be sure to watch this video to get the best price possible.
Okay, so that’s new cars. What about used vehicles. Is now a good time to buy a used car? It pains me to say it, but yes. Right now, after a very slow January (car sales were down nearly 10% in the United States), car dealers are getting cold feet while they floorplan very expensive used car inventory.
Interest rates are increasing, and that means that the cost to hold inventory at a dealership is increasing as well. Each day a vehicle sits on a car dealer’s lot they lose money. A few months ago this wasn’t much of a concern because interest rates were very low, and consumer demand was very high.
Now, interest rates are creeping up, and after a slow start to the year, many dealers are getting nervous that they bought their inventory high, and may end up having to sell it low. In January we saw four consecutive weeks of wholesale used car price declines. A few months ago, if a dealer bought a used car for an inflated price they could simply go back to the auction and sell it for even more (used cars were appreciating). That’s not happening right now, and so dealers are more willing then they have been to negotiate and make a deal with a retail customer.
From our sources, we are hearing that dealers are taking up to $2,000 losses on used cars, simply to sell them and try and make the profit up on the “back end” of the car deal (the finance, extended warranty, etc.)
As a savvy CarEdge Member, we encourage you to go to Deal School, and come in prepared with financing and extended warranty quotes so that you can play offense instead of defense when you do go to the F&I Office.
When to buy a car in 2022
Is right now the best time to buy a car in 2022? That’s a great question. While we do think right now is a good time to buy, it may not be the best. Traditionally the end of the year is the best time to buy , that’s when dealerships typically have incentives from their manufacturers to hit volume-based sales objectives. As a result of the chip shortage those objectives have vanished.
With that in mind, the end of the year is no longer the absolute best time to buy a car. In 2022 what will dictate the best or worst time to buy a car will be based on how many vehicles automakers need to take out of production. Last year we lost 11 million vehicles globally as a result of the chip shortage. The expectation for this year is that we’ll lose 1 million.
If there are more new cars produced earlier in the year, and less losses than expected, we could be in for end of year car deals. If that doesn’t happen, then we could be looking at continued high prices.
We expect that used car prices will increase again in the spring with tax returns getting into consumers hands. Right now appears to be a very good time to buy a car in 2022 (again, with the caveat being, only if you need to).
Let CarEdge help you buy your car
CarEdge Members get exclusive access to car buying coaches, negotiations tips and tricks, and the information you need to drive away satisfied every time. We founded CarEdge in 2019 to help level the playing field for consumers. Whether you’re buying a car, getting a repair done, or selling your vehicle, our team of experts is here to help you save money and get rid of the the headache.