FIFE, Wash. - Between things opening up more, people being vaccinated, and summer road trip plans, the demand for cars is very high right now. But supply is at all an all-time low, driving prices way up for both new and used vehicles.
Some in the auto business have compared what’s happening with cars to what we saw with toilet paper at the beginning of the pandemic.
"I love my truck," says Jamey Curry of Skyway. He’s feeling pretty lucky these days after having bought his trucks months before things took a turn in the auto world.
"Daily I get emails from dealerships and calls from dealerships, they're offering me 15 to 20% more than what I paid for it."
Curry has seen firsthand just how eager-if not desperate dealers are to get inventory. "Instinct would be to take the offer but then you look at the prices of what it would cost to get a new one," says Curry who explains he has no plans of selling.
"I have never seen anything like this before," says Terry Richardson, sales manager of Larson Cadillac in Fife. He says what’s going on with cars new and old is significant. "We have so many people who are basically running to the dealership to try to get brand new vehicles and it’s just not there," says Richardson.
Due to a severe shortage of microchips cars need, new cars are few and far between.
"The demand is more than the supply right now and unfortunately it really impacts the customer because we're forced to pay more money for our vehicles and the cost has to be absorbed somewhere."
And with new cars so scarce, Richardson says dealerships are paying record prices for used cars just so they can have something on the lot. Experts say trucks and SUVS are the highest in demand. According to Edmunds.com, truck inventory is down 60% at dealers nationwide. And within a year, prices for a new truck have gone up $3.5K, and for used trucks the price is up about 6K.
"Every car I've ever bought I've been able to negotiate down but not this time," says Julie McReynolds of Olympia.
She had to travel to get her 2020 Tahoe and was not expecting the price to be so firm.
"It's more than we wanted to pay, it’s a little more than we expected for the vehicle we were looking for," says McReynolds.
"If you want to move forward with buying a new car, it’s just a matter of business at this point everybody is spending more money," says Richardson.
He stresses that dealerships aren’t price gauging, customers are having to pay more because the dealers and everyone in the industry are paying more.
"Driving up the 1-5 corridor looking from dealership to dealership, everybody is feeling the pinch," says Richardson.
Edmunds.com says here are some tips to keep in mind if you’re looking for a car during the shortage.