Used Car Prices Have Increased 30 Percent

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
used car prices have increased 30 percent

We’ve been covering the staggering increase of automobile pricing all year, starting with the second-hand surge created by rental industries sucking up used models to replace all the vehicles they dumped during the pandemic. A year of suppressed demand and prolonged restrictions absolutely crippled supply chains and placed the automotive sector in an extremely difficult position going into 2021. We wish we could say things were improving but the most heartening news we’ve come across was the possibility that select manufacturers might soon have a line on semiconductor chips — hopefully encouraging new vehicle production.

But the used market is still heading into uncharted waters. According to data collected by CarGurus, the typical price for a used automobile increased by about 30 percent against this time last year. Though more worrying is how much of that spike is consolidated within the last 90 days.

While no segment or brand has managed to avoid price inflations, used pickup trucks saw the largest increases with today’s average transaction swelling to 44.21 percent larger against 2020 rates. The rest hovered between 15 and 31 percent, with rates depending almost entirely on the popularity of the body style. Electric vehicles also saw an increase in value on the secondhand market, despite having one of the worst deprecation curves imaginable. Still, most data sheets we saw had used EVs trading at prices only a few percentage points higher (e.g. 6 percent for Tesla) than they would have been this time in 2020 while minivans had gone up in value by 22 percent.

While the list has some defunct brands (e.g. Saturn) seeing huge boosts in valuation, it’s likely more useful to keep tabs on existing brands. High-volume companies seemed to see the largest increases in pricing and pickup-centric nameplates tended to be at the top of the curve. Secondhand Ram, Ford, GMC, and Chevrolet products were all trading ownership at rates over 37 percent higher than this period in 2020. So was Aston Martin, which isn’t known for pickups and kind of mucks up the theory. The rest of the pack still saw sizable pricing increases over the same timeframe, with only premium Italian brands and Tesla managing to stay below double digits on the used market.

But not every study was as grim as the one furnished by CarGurus. Though it could be due to most of them not having figures from May and the pricing increase seemingly hitting the hardest over the last two months. In fact, valuations actually dipped slightly at the start of 2021 before commencing their ascension in the middle of March. We’ll be watching to see if outlets like iSeeCars and Cox Automotive paint a similar picture later this month.

Though we doubt they’ll be putting together a report that looks contrastingly sustainable. Pricing is getting out of control and if things don’t turn around soon, the big problem will be about things more immediate than how much money people are willing to spend on their next vehicle.

[Image: LM Photos/Shutterstock]

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  • Dukeisduke Dukeisduke on Jun 08, 2021

    This has really screwed things up for our family. It's just about time to buy a first car for Daughter No. 3, and the Kia Forte that was $5600 a year ago is now $8000. The only upside at the moment is that Daughter No. 2's 2014 Forte is at the body shop for a driver's side sideswipe repair, and the estimate went from GEICO's $2000, to the body shop's estimate + supplement of $4500. I'm hoping that the value of the car has increased enough to prevent it being totaled - there's no structural damage, it's just that GEICO left a lot of stuff off of the estimate (what else is new?).

    • See 1 previous
    • Teddyc73 Teddyc73 on Jun 09, 2021

      How about giving your poor daughters a break and stop buying them cheapo Kias.

  • Teddyc73 Teddyc73 on Jun 09, 2021

    The man with dementia in the White House and his puppet masters will solve the problem. I'm SURE of it.

  • Jeanbaptiste Any variant of “pizza” flavored combos. I only eat these on car trips and they are just my special gut wrenching treat.
  • Nrd515 Usually for me it's been Arby's for pretty much forever, except when the one near my house dosed me with food poisoning twice in about a year. Both times were horrible, but the second time was just so terrible it's up near the top of my medical horror stories, and I have a few of those. Obviously, I never went to that one again. I'm still pissed at Arby's for dropping Potato Cakes, and Culver's is truly better anyway. It will be Arby's fish for my "cheat day", when I eat what I want. No tartar sauce and no lettuce on mine, please. And if I get a fish and a French Dip & Swiss? Keep the Swiss, and the dip, too salty. Just the meat and the bread for me, thanks. The odds are about 25% that they will screw one or both of them up and I will have to drive through again to get replacement sandwiches. Culver's seems to get my order right many times in a row, but if I hurry and don't check my order, that's when it's screwed up and garbage to me. My best friend lives on Starbucks coffee. I don't understand coffee's appeal at all. Both my sister and I hate anything it's in. It's like green peppers, they ruin everything they touch. About the only things I hate more than coffee are most condiments, ranked from most hated to..who cares..[list=1][*]Tartar sauce. Just thinking about it makes me smell it in my head. A nod to Ranch here too. Disgusting. [/*][*]Mayo. JEEEEZUS! WTF?[/*][*]Ketchup. Sweet puke tasting sludge. On my fries? Salt. [/*][*]Mustard. Yikes. Brown, yellow, whatever, it's just awful.[/*][*]Pickles. Just ruin it from the pickle juice. No. [/*][*]Horsey, Secret, whatever sauce. Gross. [/*][*]American Cheese. American Sleeze. Any cheese, I don't want it.[/*][*]Shredded lettuce. I don't hate it, but it's warm and what's the point?[/*][*]Raw onion. Totally OK, but not something I really want. Grilled onions is a whole nother thing, I WANT those on a burger.[/*][*]Any of that "juice" that Subway and other sandwich places want to put on. NO, HELL NO! Actually, move this up to #5. [/*][/list=1]
  • SPPPP It seems like a really nice car that's just still trying to find its customer.
  • MRF 95 T-Bird I owned an 87 Thunderbird aka the second generation aero bird. It was a fine driving comfortable and very reliable car. Quite underrated compared to the GM G-body mid sized coupes since unlike them they had rack and pinion steering and struts on all four wheels plus fuel injection which GM was a bit late to the game on their mid and full sized cars. When I sold it I considered a Mark VII LSC which like many had its trouble prone air suspension deleted and replaced with coils and struts. Instead I went for a MN-12 Thunderbird.
  • SCE to AUX Somebody got the bill of material mixed up and never caught it.Maybe the stud was for a different version (like the 4xe) which might use a different fuel tank.