It's a difficult time to be in the market for a used car. Prices climbed to new heights as the summer of 2021 progressed and set a record in June, according to Cox Automotive, averaging $25,101 for vehicles with an average of 68,613 miles on the odometer. That was $687 higher than May and a massive $5,000 over the prior year. And it's not going to get better anytime soon.
According to CNN, massive flooding in southern states and along the East Coast from Hurricane Ida is expected to cause another rise in used vehicle prices. CNN reports that 86 people were killed by the storm.
CarFax estimates that at least 212,000 vehicles were lost. That's bad news not just for the owners of those flood-damaged vehicles, but also for those who were already in the market — available inventory was already extremely tight, and some of the vehicles lost to the storm were sitting on dealership lots.
David Paris, senior manager of market insights for JD Power, was quoted by CNN saying, "We definitely see used vehicle prices pick up for two to three months after a storm. But that's when there's a healthy level of inventory. This is uncharted territory."
Further exacerbating the headache of losing a vehicle to flooding, there's also a shortage of available rental cars. That means even when drivers have insurance that provides a rental in case of total loss, there may be too many customers in line and not enough vehicles to go around.
One final note for those navigating the used-car market: Beware the pitfalls of buying a flood-damaged vehicle. Here's a guide that can help buyers avoid flood-damaged automobiles with 11 tips for shoppers.