Used Car Prices Exceed $28K For the First Time Ever

Alcoa, Tennessee, USA - April 10, 2011: The used car lot of a Honda dealer is dominated by late model used Hondas with a banner proclaiming them to be certified, that is to have a full Honda warranty.
WendellandCarolyn / Getty Images

If you’re looking to save money by shopping for a used car instead of a new one, be prepared for a little sticker shock due to an unpredictable economy.

See: Top Used Cars To Consider Buying Right Now
Find: Carvana vs. CarMax: Who’s Better for Buying and Selling Used Cars?

In December, the average listing price for used vehicles rose above $28,000 for the first time ever, according to a Cox Automotive analysis of vAuto Available Inventory data. The price exceeded $28,000 each of the last two weeks of December before closing the month at $28,205. That’s up from a revised price of $27,726 in November, when the average listing price surpassed $27,000 for the first time.

The average listing price for December represented a 28% gain from the previous year and a 42% increase from December 2019.

The prices found in Cox Automotive’s analysis align with reports from other sources as well. As GOBankingRates previously reported, recent data from showed that the average price of a used car is over $29,000 — a 39% increase in just 12 months. Edmunds expects prices to exceed $30,000 this year for the first time ever.

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More than half of American households have less income than is considered necessary to buy an average-priced used car, and just about everyone has been affected by the highest rates of inflation in 40 years.

Meanwhile, if the high prices for used cars have convinced you to shop for a new one instead, you might not get much joy there, either.

Learn: 30 Biggest Do’s and Don’ts When Buying a Car
Explore: The Best and the Worst Time of the Year To Buy a New Car

For the first time ever, the average price of a new car has gone above $46,000, according to a December article from Consumer Reports that cited data from Kelley Blue Book and TrueCar. Much of the blame rests upon the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting global semiconductor shortage, which has left many automakers unable to crank out new cars at a fast enough pace to meet demand.

“We are seeing new transaction prices hit all-time highs,” said Nick Woolard, an analyst with TrueCar. “You see dealers parking their vehicles sideways to make it look like they have more vehicles on the lot.”

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About the Author

Vance Cariaga is a London-based writer, editor and journalist who previously held staff positions at Investor’s Business Daily, The Charlotte Business Journal and The Charlotte Observer. His work also appeared in Charlotte Magazine, Street & Smith’s Sports Business Journal and Business North Carolina magazine. He holds a B.A. in English from Appalachian State University and studied journalism at the University of South Carolina. His reporting earned awards from the North Carolina Press Association, the Green Eyeshade Awards and AlterNet. In addition to journalism, he has worked in banking, accounting and restaurant management. A native of North Carolina who also writes fiction, Vance’s short story, “Saint Christopher,” placed second in the 2019 Writer’s Digest Short Short Story Competition. Two of his short stories appear in With One Eye on the Cows, an anthology published by Ad Hoc Fiction in 2019. His debut novel, Voodoo Hideaway, was published in 2021 by Atmosphere Press.
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