Small used car lots struggle despite hot used car market

Used car prices have been off the charts, and it’s nearly putting some smaller used car lots out of business.

Posted: Jul 23, 2021 11:35 AM
Updated: Jul 23, 2021 11:42 AM

SPRINGFIELD, Ore. – Used car prices have been off the charts, and it’s nearly putting some smaller used car lots out of business.

Used vehicle prices have shot up partly because of demand from consumers scared to take public transportation and partly because of a computer chip shortage needed to make cars. While bigger dealerships are able to take the hit, smaller used car lots are finding it nearly impossible to find inventory.

At Main Street Auto Sales in Springfield, professional detailer Cayce Calder said the owner of the business has pivoted to classic cars because used cars are too hard to find.

“If you look around and you see a lot of classic cars here, it’s because the owner of the business couldn't buy used cars,” Calder said.

Calder explained part of the problem is that following the pandemic, car auctions shut down.

“You can’t go out and buy inventory,” Calder said. “The big car dealers, we're making some great offers to get inventory.”

Calder said basic vehicles that would ordinarily sell for $500 were going for $1,500. The market for trucks also took off.

“If you had a pickup truck on your car lot, you had two or three people instantly showing up to try to buy a truck,” Calder said.

According to CNN, the average price of a used car in the United States passed $25,000 for the first time ever at the end of June, a 26% increase over the year before. Wholesale used car prices are beginning to taper off, but it will take time for ordinary car shoppers to notice a difference.

In the meantime, Calder encouraged shoppers to be cautious before purchasing, because many used cars are requiring substantial repairs and maintenance.

“The dealers that are taking their inventory to the auction to sell are taking the stuff they couldn't sell to the public. So, most of the stuff that you're going to get over there is going to need work automatically,” Calder said.

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