Everyday we receive dozens of questions from the CarEdge Community. Recently one question has appeared more and more frequently, “Should I buy a car now or wait until 2022?” Traditionally, the end of the year is the best time to buy a new or used car, and that’s because car dealerships have sales quotas they are trying to attain before the end of the year. If they achieve their sales quotas they get large checks from the manufacturer.
That being said, everything in 2021 has been abnormal, and for the first time since 1896 (the year the first car dealership opened!), automakers aren’t waving hundreds of thousands of dollars in “incentives” in front of their dealers. Instead, this year, unlike any other, end of year quotas aren’t in effect. If a dealership has a quota, it is self-imposed, and not from the manufacturer. As a result, our expectation is that end of year car deals will less attractive than in years past.
With that in mind the question remains, “Should I buy a car now or wait until 2022?” Let’s dive in and answer that!
Is it better to buy a new or used car right now?
Let’s kick things off with a quick discussion on buying new vs. used right now. In today’s market there is a short supply of both new and used vehicles. How tight is supply? Typically there are 2 to 3 million new cars in inventory at any given time. Right now that number is less than 1 million.
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Used car inventories are not doing much better. Because of the lack of new car supply, more and more consumers and businesses (think rental car companies) have been buying up used cars. That, paired with that fact that very few lease cars are coming back to the market (and with good reason, most people are buying out their leases and making a profit), we’re in a situation were used car prices are up more than 50% in 2021 alone!
This is as good a time as ever to remind you that if you don’t need to buy a car right now, you really shouldn’t. Prices on both the new and used car side are astoundingly high. However, in our estimation, new cars are a better value right now than used cars. That because we have seen CarEdge members get deals at MSRP on new cars, which represents a way better value than buying a comparable 2 or 3 year old used car for it’s original MSRP with tens of thousands of miles on it.
Is it better to buy new or used right now? The answer, if you can afford it, is buy new.
Should I buy a new car right now?
If you do decide to buy a new car right now be prepared for the process. Many dealerships do not have inventory on their lot, and that means you’ll be placing a factory order. We have a complete step-by-step guide to factory ordering for FREE that you can use.
Your goal for a new car deal should be MSRP + dealer doc fee + taxes + registration. If a dealership is trying to add on thousands of dollars in extras, you can and should negotiate on them.
The amount of negotiating leverage you have will also depend on the local area supply of vehicles. For example, if you’re looking to buy a new 2022 Subaru Outback, it’s helpful to know that the days supply of inventory right now is 5. Compare that to the days supply of inventory of a new 2021 Ford EcoSport which has a days supply well north of 100. You are much more likely to get a car dealer to negotiate on the EcoSport (which has been discontinued), then you will with a Subaru dealership. It’s simply because they have more supply of the EcoSport than the Outback.
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If you chose to buy a new car in this market, this type of local market analysis can help you come in prepared (and with realistic expectations) for your car deal. You can capture all of this data for free by simply using the car search on caredge.kinsta.cloud.
Should I buy a used car right now?
Used car prices are through the roof. There is no other time in history where we have seen used car prices appreciate as much as they have in 2021.
Should you buy a used car right now, even at the end of the year? No. Not unless you absolutely cannot afford a new car, or cannot afford to wait for a factory order. If you do decide to buy a used car their are a few tactics you can use to determine if you are paying a fair price (relative to the current market conditions).
The first suggestion we have if you are buying a used car is to see what Black Book, Carvana, and Vroom would pay to buy the car if you were selling it to them. To do this you can simply take the VIN of the vehicle you are interested in purchasing, and run it in Black Book, Carvana, and Vroom. See the short video below.
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Once you’ve seen the valuations from Black Book, Carvana, and Vroom, you should have a pretty good sense for if the vehicle is priced fairly. If it is, when you contact the seller be sure to get the out the door price (we encourage you to use our free email templates to do that), and then request a pre-purchase inspection. We have a complete guide to pre-purchase inspections here.
FREE car buying tools & resources
To recap, you should only buy a car right now if you need to, not it if you want to. That being said, if you do buy a car right now, we think new cars represent a better value than used cars. In your quest to find a car dealer who will sell you a new car at MSRP, here are a few resources you should reference:
- Deal School
- CarEdge Member reviewed dealerships
- CarEdge vehicle search (with email templates)
- CarEdge Live chat support
- CarEdge Review my deal forum
We hope this helps you answer the, “Should I buy a car now or wait until 2022” question. CarEdge is here to help you as you navigate one of the strangest and most difficult car buying markets of all time.
Here are comments from CarEdge Community members on the original post that inspired this article.
With High Used Car prices, Is it Worth Trading In?
I have a 2017 Mazda 6 with 57k miles. I don’t need a new car, but with used prices so high, is it worth upgrading now?
Offer for used Mazda 6 is 17k. MSRP for new Mazda 6 is 28k. I imagine the inflated value of the used car is just transferred to the price of the new car. But with prices expected to continue to rise, should I consider upgrading to a new car now, or try and ride it out for a couple more years.
I imagine with more supply, the new car prices will drop, but that means used pricing should drop as well. But there is also the risk that car manufacturers decide to keep inventories low to keep prices high.
I priced a new car at a dealership that I previously had bought two new cars from. The price was $2k over actual MSRP, they tried to add another $2k charge for a paint/ sealant system. I thought it was a horrible way to treat a long term customer. And when I get ready to buy, I doubt that I will start there.