Car owners in Connecticut and across the country can now have something more valuable sitting in their driveway, and those buying a new car can feel shocked as used car selling prices are considerably higher than they were at this point. one year ago.

Shortages in the auto industry have resulted in increased demand for used cars and a shortage of inventory, forcing dealerships to scramble to stock enough cars for consumers to come to showrooms. This, in turn, has pushed up the selling prices of used cars, in some cases by as much as 30%.

“We try every way we can to find used cars,” said Mike Lynch, president of Lynch Toyota in Manchester. “All the new car dealers are trying to buy new cars and that drives up the price. Our used car sales are up 5 to 10 percent and that is largely because there is a lack of new car inventory; if someone needs a car right away, they really don’t have much of a choice.

Lynch said that in many cases there is a delay of about two months to get new Toyota models.

“Every now and then we’ll have cars right away,” he said. “But we are selling fewer new cars than usual.”

The shortage of new cars and the impact it has on used car sales is the result of a supply chain problem affecting most parts of the US economy. With the supply chain of auto parts, from computer chips to other types of parts, automakers cannot produce cars fast enough.

Karl Brauer, executive analyst for automotive data website iSeeCars.com, said the shortage began when automakers had to shut down assembly lines at the start of the pandemic in March 2020. As the As the pandemic progressed and factories reopened, demand for cars increased as consumers sought to minimize their exposure to large crowds, according to Brauer.

“Many city dwellers have found taking Uber and public transportation less desirable than before,” he said.

The top five-selling used cars in the Hartford / New Haven market in August, according to iSeeCars.com, were the Mazda CX-5, Mercedes-Benz GLE, BMW X3, Toyota RAV4 and Volkswagen Jetta.

The average selling price of used cars in the Hartford-New Haven market in August, the most recent period for which data was available, increased 29.4% – or $ 6,383 from the same period in 2020 – according to iSeeCars data.

Rob Bernier from Wallingford recently purchased a used Ford Explorer.

“The dealership had the car I wanted for the price I wanted to pay,” Bernier said in response to a social media survey from Hearst Connecticut Media. “I bought used because I saved $ 25,000 over a car two years later.”

Another Wallingford resident, Jennifer Michelle, bought a used Volvo XC 60 in September. Michelle described the experience as “extremely easy as I did a lot of research and knew what the trade-in was worth for our car.”

“They tried to put us down on our exchange, so I told them that we would sell it ourselves and get back to them when it was sold,” she said. “Within 15 minutes, I received a phone call from the dealer.”

Brauer said the current used car market has put consumers who lease their cars and are nearing the end of this deal in a good position. This is because in the rental process, dealers and rental companies predict what the prices will be three years from now.

“If you have a lease that is expiring soon, the market value of that vehicle is, in most cases, significantly higher than the buyout price,” he said. “In other words, you are going to get the car for a lot less than what you would pay to get the exact same car from a dealership.”

John Paul, senior director of road safety and public affairs at AAA Northeast, which serves the New Haven area, said the used car shortage is further exacerbated by how the pandemic has hit rental companies cars of the country and the vehicles of their fleet.

“A lot of used cars come from rental fleets,” Paul said. “Rental fleets have been wiped out; they didn’t replace the vehicles because people weren’t traveling.

Brauer said the shortage of computer chips is particularly acute.

“They’re the ones that power a lot of what’s in modern cars, from keyless entry remotes to cruise controls, which require computing power,” he said. “Cars slowly became computers or iPhones on four wheels. “

As the pandemic progressed, automakers had to compete with consumer electronics manufacturers for the existing supply of microchips, according to Brauer.

“People were buying more personal electronics because they were stuck at home,” he said.

To help cope with the increased interest in buying used cars, the nation’s largest used vehicle retailer, Virginia-based CarMax, is in the midst of a massive hiring drive that aims to add 3,700 new workers by the end of the year, including 19 in Connecticut, a company spokeswoman said. This represents an increase of almost 14% of the overall workforce of the company.

The demand for used cars has driven record sales in its last two fiscal quarters, according to spokesperson Lindsey Duke.

“CarMax is looking to fill existing positions and expand its workforce to support business growth and enhance its customer experience and industry-leading e-commerce capabilities,” said Duke. CarMax has Connecticut locations in East Haven, Waterbury and Hartford.

Brauer said it could be next spring or early summer before the supply chain problems plaguing automakers start to ease.

“The supply of microchips appears to be worse than ever,” he said. “And some people said the worst was yet to come. The only way to fix this is to develop new supply chains, manage microchip factories more efficiently so that they can produce more or build new factories, so that you don’t have a real solution. short term.

Paul, AAA Northeast’s used car expert, was less optimistic that the issue will be fixed so soon.

“Eventually things will get better,” he said. “I’m not sure when. “

Nearly half of all new car buyers polled last month by Kelley Blue Book, which provides data on vehicle trade-in values, said they would likely postpone their purchase due to the chip shortage.

Among those likely to postpone, 40 percent of consumers said they were prepared to wait three to six months, while 40 percent said they would wait seven months or more. And among car buyers surveyed, 38% said they would switch from buying a new vehicle to a used one.

One used car price measure that most consumers are familiar with is “book value,” which refers to how much it would cost to replace a vehicle. But according to Matt DeLorenzo, senior editor of Kelley Blue Book, there are several types of book value.

“There is the retail book value, there is the wholesale book value, there is the retail value,” DeLorenzo said. “We update our book values ​​every week and we get information from a variety of sources including Manhiem Auctions where we find out what dealers are paying wholesale.”

Generally speaking, he said book values ​​are on the rise, as are average list prices.

The average list price of a car since the start of the year is $ 26,150, according to DeLorenzo.

“Two years ago the average list price was $ 21,194,” he said. “Last year alone, the average list price increased about 17 percent.”

Rising used car prices are problematic for consumers at the bottom of the economic ladder, “those who just need a car to get to work,” DeLorenzo said.

Average new car transaction prices set a new record this year, according to DeLorenzo, surpassing $ 45,000 for the first time.

Typically, the number of used vehicles sold is three times greater than the sales of new cars, he said. But the gap between used and new vehicle purchases is widening, DeLorenzo said.

“New vehicle sales have hovered between 16 million and 27 million,” he said. “Now, new vehicle sales hover between 12 million and 13 million. “

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