Used car buyers pushed into older vehicles due to rising costs

There’s no two ways about it: The used car market is insane. A few years of disrupted new vehicle production have placed significant pressure on used vehicle prices and supply, and the issues have gotten bad enough that they’re forcing some buyers to shop for much older vehicles than they normally would. A new study from iSeeCars found that buyers’ money doesn’t go anywhere near as far as it did pre-pandemic and noted that prices are elevated across the board.

The study showed that buyers spending $23,000 could get a three-year-old car in 2019, but now, that amount struggles to buy a six-year-old vehicle. iSeeCars’ analyst Karl Brauer, blames some of that on reduced production numbers during the pandemic. The supply of one-year-old used vehicles has fallen almost 46 percent since 2019. Two- and three-year-old cars saw supply decreases of 19.5 and 26.7%, respectively.

Whatever the cause, the effect is clear: Late-model used cars are no longer affordable. One-year-old models averaged around $28,000 in 2019, and in 2023, that number has grown to $46,403 – a 67% increase. At the same time, older used models saw increases of up to 53% in some cases. The average used pricing for models has increased by 33%.

While buying an older used car isn’t the worst thing in the world, even the least desirable used models are expensive. An eight-year-old Hyundai Accent is now almost $200 more than before, though some saw decreases. Whatever the cost, the reality is that many buyers are being pushed into buying cheaper older cars that may not be so cheap to own and operate over time.

Though this is frustrating for people buying cars to drive daily, it’s just as annoying for people shopping for project cars. The days of hopping on Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace to find a beater are over, and the money that used to buy a reasonable project now buys a heap of rust with no engine.

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