Buying & Leasing a Car

COVID-19 Drives Used-Car Sales Boom

Commuters afraid of public transportation in a pandemic have been scooping up wheels.

Used-car prices are up 23% from a year ago, and SUVs and trucks are up 17%. Demand shot up because so many consumers have switched from public transportation, ride-sharing, trains and planes to personal vehicles to avoid exposure to the COVID-19 virus. Government stimulus checks and the inability to spend much money on things like dining out have also goosed vehicle spending. Prices of used cars have climbed by larger percentages than prices of trucks and SUVs because cars tend to be cheaper—which makes them more attractive to low-income workers, who have suffered the most economically during the pandemic. Also, inventories of used cars were very low to begin with, because most new-vehicle buyers are choosing pickups and SUVs.

The strong demand will likely last until a viable vaccine gets widely distributed and the public’s health fears subside. When that happens, used prices may slide again. And it appears that prices may have already peaked; weekly transaction data show them edging down slightly since mid August. But for now, they’ll remain elevated. So if you’re thinking about buying a new ride and trading in your current car, you should still have some room to negotiate a higher price on your trade-in.

Most Popular

Your Guide to Roth Conversions
Special Report
Tax Breaks

Your Guide to Roth Conversions

A Kiplinger Special Report
February 25, 2021
What Is the Social Security COLA?
retirement

What Is the Social Security COLA?

For the average recipient, the 2021 monthly increase doesn't even cover a fill-up at the gas station — but it beats nothing.
July 14, 2021
11 Best Healthcare Stocks for the Rest of 2021
healthcare stocks

11 Best Healthcare Stocks for the Rest of 2021

The 2020s could be the decade of healthcare stocks. Here are 10 companies and one ETF to watch not just for the remainder of this year, but well beyon…
July 13, 2021

Recommended

7 Money Lies We Tell Ourselves
personal finance

7 Money Lies We Tell Ourselves

Everyone does it, one way or another. See if any of these lies sound familiar to you. And find out what kind of damage believing them can do to your f…
July 24, 2021
Biden’s Tax Plan Could Make ‘Marriage Penalty’ Worse
Getting Married

Biden’s Tax Plan Could Make ‘Marriage Penalty’ Worse

“Are we better off single?” That’s what some high-earning couples may be asking themselves if Congress acts on President Biden’s tax proposal. Here’s …
July 22, 2021
25 Best Kirkland Products You Should Buy at Costco
Smart Buying

25 Best Kirkland Products You Should Buy at Costco

Many of warehouse club Costco's store-branded Kirkland Signature items get high marks for quality and value. Check out our picks.
July 21, 2021
Your Spouse Wants a Divorce … Now What?!
Divorce

Your Spouse Wants a Divorce … Now What?!

Maybe it came as a shock, or perhaps you saw it coming a mile away. If you’re wondering what to do, take a look at the personal and financial talking …
July 17, 2021