What You Need to Know If Vehicle Shopping

First the good news, according to Michelle Krebs, executive analyst for Cox Automotive:

“The surge in new car prices appears to have peaked.”

That is the new vehicle average transaction price fell 1.8% in January compared to December.

Now it is “just” $46,404.

But while not exactly an entire shoe dropping, Krebs adds:

“Yet, while we expect vehicle supply to improve, it will continue to be tight particularly through the first half of the year. Because of this, we expect prices to remain high for the foreseeable future, but car shoppers can rest assured we don’t anticipate any more record highs.”

Not records. Just high.

Here’s another thing that probably won’t make you feel much better.

Cox calculates that car shoppers for non-lux vehicles are paying, on average, more than $900 above sticker. A year ago those customers were paying $1,600 or more below sticker.

For those in the lux segment it is a similar story, just higher numbers. As in paying $1,300 above sticker when last year the prices out the door were $2,400 under MSRP.

One way of looking at this is that for non-lux cars customers are paying a $2,500 penalty for waiting (the swing from minus $1,600 to plus $900) and the lux buyers $3,700.

With inflation and rising interest rates, however, it may be a good idea to shop earlier rather than later lest those factors add to the sticker.

Remember: MSRP is “suggested” price, not what you’re going to sign off on.

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