Used Cars Cost Almost Double What They Did Nine Years Ago

The last time I bought a used car it set me back $9,000, which, according to new data from Edmunds, is just over average for a used car in 2019. That number is almost 75 percent higher than it was in 2010.

The data says that thanks in part to the Great Recession when automakers slashed production, there’s now a “relative rarity” of 10-year-old cars out there in the wild, leaving most used cars to be more recent ones—and thus more expensive too.

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Via Reuters:

According to data provided to Reuters by industry consultant and car shopping website Edmunds, the average price of that vintage of vehicle is $8,657, still nearly 75% higher than in 2010 despite some softening in prices over the last year. The average new car, in contrast, has seen a price rise of 25% in that same time period.

“This is pinching people at the worst point possible,” said Ivan Drury, Edmunds’ senior manager of industry analysis. “If you need basic A to B transportation, you have to get an older car that needs more repairs and has more wear-and-tear issues.”

“Nearly 75 percent” is a massive jump, and some of that has to do with the fact that there are more trucks and SUVs on the road than ever, and thus surely more used trucks and SUVs on the market, which attract higher prices. But there is also the fact, according to Reuters, that the cars Americans are driving are older than ever.

And so people are just hanging on to cars on the lowest ends of the used-car range, which would drive the average used-car price up. They’re doing that, I imagine, because cars simply last longer than they did a generation ago. But also probably in part because a lot of people think we’re due for an economic downturn.

George Augustaitis, director of automotive industry analytics at CarGurus Inc (CARG.O), an online marketplace for new and used cars, said late this spring his team started to notice an “accelerating decline” in the number of available vehicles under $10,000, which typically would include vehicles between eight and 12 years old.

In an analysis for Reuters, CarGuru’s data shows a falling share of inventory of Great Recession-era cars, while the number of online “leads” from consumers seeking those vehicles has remained steady.

In fact, the average American car is the oldest on record, according to IHS Markit, and CarGurus’ Augustaitis said the available inventory of vehicles costing under $10,000 will not return to more normal levels until 2022, reflecting rising car production after the Great Recession.

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Apropos of this blog, I was talking to my co-worker Raphael Orlove about what he thinks is the best-used car for a non-enthusiast, a slightly more interesting question to me than the same but for an enthusiast. He suggested an 11th-generation manual Toyota Corolla or a hatchback. My own thought veered more toward something like a fourth-generation Subaru Forester. You?

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About the author

Erik Shilling

News Editor at Jalopnik. 2008 Honda Fit Sport.