buying: The Average Used Car Price is Now $33,000

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  • Average prices for used cars are way up, with the average markup rising above $10,000—and still growing.
  • Age and body style are the most significant factors in markets, with late model units and luxury coupes selling despite price gouging of 45-57%.
  • Electric vehicle and hybrid sale prices are rapidly rising in response to elevated fuel costs, making the average transaction cost for a used EV around $67,000.

Trying to buy a car right now is terrible, to put it lightly. Dealer markups on otherwise affordable new vehicles and computer-chip shortages delaying production have pushed many buyers to consider used cars. Unfortunately, the used market is experiencing its own markups. With fewer cars available and mechanics swamped with work, dealerships and private sellers have raised prices on even the most undesirable of used cars, and people are still buying them.

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Thanks to data compiled by CoPilot, we can see just how much consumers are paying for used cars as of last month. By tracking virtually every dealership in the US, the data shows the average transaction price of a used car has risen to $33,341, a $172 fall from the used market's peak at $33,513 in March. Looking back at pre-pandemic and early 2020 data, that's $10,046 above projected normal prices for used cars.

gettyimages-1237921821 © NurPhoto - Getty Images gettyimages-1237921821

A few key factors play into which cars are selling at inflated prices: age, body type, fuel type, and brand. While vehicles four or more years old fall within the current premium metric, vehicles that are anywhere from one to three years old are actually commanding a higher markup of $13,145 above typical sale prices. The average sale price for these relatively fresh used vehicles is $42,314. Perhaps more concerning is the fact that cars manufactured as long as 13 years ago are still averaging sales of $18,038.

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Certain body styles are more popular than others, with SUVs continuing to take top spots in the US. As a result, SUVs fell victim to the smallest percentage of markups at 29% above normally expected prices. Curiously, the data separates SUVs and crossovers, with crossover sales at a price rate 39% above normal. Pickup trucks followed a similar trajectory as SUVs, with a slight increase in sale prices to 32% above normal. Coupes and convertibles are subject to the highest levels of price gouging with markups of 57% and 55%, respectively, though such cars were often priced high even in normal times.

Electric vehicles are becoming increasingly popular and are now suffering in terms of price. The average used EV sold for $66,742, signifying a rise of 26% since early March—potentially the result of high gas prices. Hybrid vehicles saw an increase of 14% above normal since early March, setting the average sale price at $49,213. Diesels were generally more expensive than hybrids, but traditional gasoline-powered cars sold at a rate of around $8000 lower than hybrids and $25,000 less than EVS.

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gettyimages-1234869391 © NurPhoto - Getty Images gettyimages-1234869391

Foreign vehicles are selling at significantly lower premiums than domestically manufactured cars. The average premium for a foreign vehicle was $8088 and it was largely set that high by Volkswagen models demanding an average $10,034 premium per sale. Even so, the price premium for domestic brands averaged out to $9752, with Ram taking the top slot at $11,390. The average premium for domestic manufacturers is 42% above normal prices while the lower overall average for foreign-produced cars is 45% above normal.

Naturally, luxury brands are taking the largest sum of winnings from this market. While luxury sales have fallen recently, the listed premiums aren't necessarily deterrents for brand-dedicated buyers. Case in point, Porsches were sold with an average of $24,168 above list prices.

It's anything but a buyer's market and many owners have elected to undergo expensive maintenance as opposed to trading out. For those in need of a car, the bleak market and buying experience can improve with the help of a few online tools. The recently launched site Markups.org is crowdsourcing dealer markups daily and can help buyers decide which dealership is right. Additionally, CoPilot's program PricePulse will alert potential buyers when model prices drop.

Sad to say, gone are the days of $2000 cars that get you to work and back.

Looking to purchase a car? Find your match on the MSN Autos Marketplace

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