One of the stranger side effects of the pandemic had nothing to do with health, masks or social distancing. Instead, it involved the price of used cars — or, to be more specific, it involved the price of used cars rising dramatically. In 2022, The Verge published one writer’s account of selling his car for more than he’d paid for it. Given that the car in question was a 2014 Honda Fit, this seemed emblematic of where the market was at the time.
More recent reports have suggested that the used car market has returned to something closer to a pre-pandemic normal. Earlier this year, Neal E. Boudette at The New York Times observed that “the used-car business is suffering a brutal hangover.” Except now, that market seems to be rallying, both literally and metaphorically.
Recent data from the Manheim Used Vehicle Value Index suggests that average used vehicle prices are climbing again, with a 3.7% price increase from January 2023 to February 2023. That data comes via a Yahoo Finance article (via Autoblog), which also cites Cox Automotive’s Jeremy Robb, who pointed out that an increase in used prices generally occurs in the spring. This year’s increase, however, seems to be both earlier and more pronounced than most years.
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A closer look at the Manheim Used Vehicle Value Index shows a relatively steady increase beginning in 2020. After reaching a peak in 2022, the Index began dropping, only to begin rising again at the beginning of this year. This doesn’t necessarily mean that we’re still in “sell your car for more than you paid for it” territory — but it could point to fewer used car bargains than you might expect.
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