Show Me the Money: Car shopping tips amid shortage

Show Me the Money

We continue our series on the new car shortage. Memorial Day is usually a time to score some big deals but this year, that’s not going to be the case.

More and more people are getting vaccinated and are ready to travel this summer. Combine that with the computer chip shortage and supply just can’t keep up with the demand for cars.

“What’s really happening is the people who used to get the bigger discounts more than $500, $1,000, probably $2,000, $5,000,” said Jessica Caldwell, Edmunds. ”You’ve seen all those advertisements. We’re seeing a lot less of those these days which means inventory is tightening up and there are just fewer deals out there.”

In fact, Edmunds says 13% of consumers are paying above sticker price for a new car. This is the highest level Edmunds has on record dating all the way back to 2002!

“The first thing to think about if you want to buy a new car is buy now,” said Caldwell. “We’re looking at the point where inventory is going to get a bit more scarce over the next 6 months so if you know you need a vehicle in the next 6 months, do your research, do your shopping and if you see a car that you want at a price point that you want definitely just buy it.”

Another tip, be flexible! Pickup trucks and SUVs are in shortest supply…so you might want to consider something else.

And — you may need to expand your search radius.

“It’s great to support your local dealer, I absolutely advocate that 100% but if you’re just not seeing the inventory you want you may have to go out a bit further. That’s just the reality of the situation.”

Even though you may not get the best deals for a new car right now, you can make up for that with your trade in.

But make sure you do your research, don’t leave money on the table.

“There are so many people who tell me ‘my car’s not worth that much’ or ‘I didn’t get very much when I traded my car in the last time and that is not the case.’ We know that there’s a shortage in vehicles across the board. Everyone is paying top dollar for used cars.”

But is there an end in sight to these record high car prices or is this just the beginning? 

“I think right now we’re just seeing the beginning of these high prices and automakers are trying to do things like change up some of the options and trends to keep production going,” added Caldwell.

If you absolutely don’t need a new car right now, just wait.

“Here’s the thing with cars — they’re not lost forever. These vehicles are going to come back in production so if we look to the end of the year, even early next year, the choices will be a lot different than they will be in the next few months.”

The car situation can always change so the most important thing you can do if you’re looking to buy or trade in your car, is to do your research first.

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