Good news, bad news about car prices

Finally some good news about car prices, that have been rising faster than the inflation rate.

Prices on used cars are down slightly, though don’t expect a break on the new car lot, where shortages continue to mean surcharges on hot new vehicles.

That means there is some good news, and some bad news, if you are in the market for a car, truck or SUV this fall.

First, the good news.

Used car prices begin to fall

You might not notice it next time you visit a car dealer, but used car prices are down the past two months, according to the government’s latest CPI inflation report.

Business Insider says higher loan rates, coupled with consumer cutbacks, have led to an average 4 percent drop in used vehicle prices since their peak.

It reports lower prices on some:

  • Used Jeeps, especially the Wagoneer, which saw huge markups when it was released last year.
  • Used Toyotas, and its Scion sub brand, which also saw slight price declines.
  • Used Honda and Hyundai, where prices are down a bit.
  • Used Teslas, where prices have fallen since early summer.

However, overall used car prices are still nearly 20 percent higher than they were last year.
And some used cars — like the new Ford Bronco — continue to sell for more than a new version of the same car, because of the long waiting list for a new one.

Now the bad news.

New cars still selling with surcharges over sticker price

While used car prices may be dropping slightly, prices on new cars remain near their all time high, at $48,000, according to Kelley Blue Book.

But that’s only part of the story: the hottest models continue to sell with big surcharges or “market adjustments” over sticker price, or MSRP (which is just the suggested retail price).

The auto site i-SeeCars.com says some of the biggest markups right now are on the:

  • Jeep Wrangler, with an average surcharge of $8,000, which is a whopping 24 percent over MSRP
  • Lexus RX450: A $10,000 average surcharge over sticker price.
  • Genesis GV70: $10,000 surcharge.
  • Ford Bronco (full sized): $8,000 surcharge.
  • Jeep Gladiator: $8,000 above sticker.
  • Ford Maverick: Ford’s hot new affordable pickup truck is a not so affordable $4,000 over sticker, on average.

Not all dealers are charging surcharges like these, so it makes sense to price different dealerships.

But if you want to avoid a high new car surcharge, you may want to buy used or look for models that are not in such high demand, so you don’t waste your money.

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