Why are used cars so expensive right now?

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More buyers are eyeing the used car market. But for those who can afford it, customers are buying larger, more expensive vehicles new. | Ben Hasty/MediaNews Group

More people are buying used cars than before. That’s pushed prices up.

In January 2020, Eddie Lee was on the verge of selling his 2013 Dodge Charger, but he wasn’t impressed with the amount CarMax offered: $9,500. “It wasn’t a great offer, and I was in no rush to sell it,” Lee told Vox.

Then, say it with me, the pandemic happened.

In September, Lee, who lives in Howard County, Maryland, sold that same car for $11,000 on CarMax, a $1,500 increase from the offer he received in January.

“When I heard used car prices were reaching levels unseen in several years, I took it to CarMax and it was a done deal,” Lee said.

While it’s true that used car prices are spiking and demand has increased, car sales are down overall for both new and used cars. This can be traced back, in part, to another staple of pandemic consumerism: a disruption in the supply chain.

Cars never quite reached the coronavirus unavailability of toilet paper — if you wanted to buy one, you were almost certainly able to. However,…


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