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The process of car buying hasn’t been this difficult in a long time. Just finding the car you want can feel impossible. If you do find it, can you afford it? And if you can afford it, will it be delivered within any reasonable time span? Chip shortages, supply chain issues, global production problems, and changing economics have all played a part, but it’s led many drivers to wonder whether it’s worth it to buy a car right now.

New and used car prices are in flux right now

Car salesman shakes the hands of his buyers
Shaking hands after a car sale | Yavuz Arslan/ullstein bild via Getty Images

We’re reported on the fact that used car prices are finally going down, but there’s no guarantee that they’ll stay there. Every month seems to be changing, and these changes aren’t as consistent as consumers would like. 

Part of the reason for the major car price problems is that old, cheap cars (older model years with high miles) are largely missing from the market. A lack of $5,000 and cheaper cars and a potential spike in newer, pricier lower-mileage cars may be skewing the average.

Kelley Blue Book’s analysts expect prices to continue climbing, but they should hopefully stabilize soon.

Kelley Blue Book says that the latter half of 2022 is looking better for buying a car

KBB says that “if you can afford to wait, the second half of 2022 is starting to look better for buying a vehicle. Inventory is slowly beginning to recover, particularly in the used market. Many analysts expect the microchip shortage to ease by fall.”

If the second half of 2022 is showing improvement for the car-buying market, then 2023 may be ideal for buying a new or used car. In a perfect world, the chip shortage will ease up, production will increase, availability of cars will increase, and prices will go down.

However, that’s a perfect world.

High gas prices may force the production of cheaper cars

A hand holds a gas nozzle up to a car
Gas station fill-up | Erik Mclean via Unsplash

One weird silver lining of high gas prices is that they may force automakers to produce a larger selection of smaller, more fuel-efficient cars. It now costs over $100 to fill up some trucks and large SUVs, and that’s not sustainable for many families. 

However, there’s no guarantee that these potential economical cars will actually be cheap. Hybrids and electric cars are more expensive than they’ve been in the past, as companies invest more in tech. Still, more availability of even slightly more affordable small cars could ease demand for used cars, lowering prices and creating stability across the board.

Take advantage of the market if you’re selling or trading in before you buy a car

Hands holding fanned-out cash. Buying a car can be easier if you sell your current car for more.
Cash | Manan Vatsyayana/AFP via Getty Images

High prices for both new and used cars can feel frustrating, but they could be in your favor if you’re thinking of downsizing. If you’re planning to go from a two-car family to one or cut your full-size SUV in favor of a compact cruiser, this could be the perfect market for you. Waiting until 2023 could be a mistake if you have something pricier to sell or trade-in. Just be sure to avoid these ways that car dealers manipulate buyers.

Consider getting the most for your trade-in or sale now if you’ve got an in-demand vehicle like a well-equipped truck, a fuel-efficient SUV, or a popular hybrid car. Sell it or trade it to get top dollar, as long as you’re looking for something easier to find during the chip shortage.

If you don’t have much to trade or sell, or the vehicle you want next is a hot commodity, it may be best to wait until 2023.


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