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Unfortunately for car buying, dealership inventory has still not fully recovered from the COVID-19 pandemic. You can expect to wait a while for a new car or settle for your second-choice make and model. If your old car is broken down, it might make financial sense to shell out for a car repair—even an expensive one.

Cars are expensive in 2022

Car salesman | J. Conrad Williams Jr./Newsday RM via Getty Images

Because dealerships have very little new car inventory in 2022, it is far from a seller’s market. Some dealerships are marking up unique makes and models. But even the dealerships charging sticker are offering few financial incentives because they’ll be able to sell all their cars anyway.

In a normal new car market, you can hunt down special deals and incentives. You can also make an offer and see if your salesperson can lower your new car’s price.

But these techniques only work because the dealership often takes out a loan to buy new cars from the automaker and thus can’t afford to have unsold cars sitting on its lot for long. Because they have an incentive to sell each car quickly, you have some bargaining power.

In 2022, dealership inventory is low, and demand is high. Car salespeople know someone will buy every single car—soon. Therefore, you have little bargaining power.

It might take years to get the car you want

A person in a car potentially before buying a new car.
People in a car | Getty Images

Consumer Reports recommends that, if you can wait a year or more for your next car, you put in a factory order now. This way, you get to order exactly the make, model, and configuration you want. Then, when production finally ramps back up the automaker will assemble your car.

If you walk into a dealership now, looking to buy a car immediately, you won’t have many options. CR points out that you might not get the configuration you want, and you might have to settle for a make and model that you weren’t originally interested in.

In addition, automakers with limited production capability are struggling to maintain their profit margins. To this end, they are focusing their resources on luxury vehicles and larger vehicles. You might be forced into buying a more expensive vehicle, just based on what inventory is available.

Repairing your old car has benefits

An automotive technician working on a car.
Automotive technician | COLIN MC CONNELL TORONTO STAR

There are several benefits to repairing your old car. You improve its trade-in value, whether you are selling it next year or keeping it for a while. You could even say there are moral reasons to repair an older, broken car.

Fixing up an old car means that it will drive for more miles and the market will need less new cars. Less new cars produced unnecessarily means less waste and less environmental impact.

In addition, hiring someone to fix up your old car keeps jobs in your local community. Finally, you get to keep the car you are familiar with. You might find you prefer it to a new car, loaded with unfamiliar features. Who knows, if you are driving one of the last cars without automated features, it might be collectible someday.

Next, learn how to buy a car despite supply chain issues.

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