Monthly costs to finance new, used vehicles hit record high

Linda D. Klein

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Shortages, interest rates are pushing up prices

New car prices are up 12.6% from a year ago and used car prices are up 16.1%, according to the latest data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

While those year-over-year increases have slowed somewhat, higher interest rates are pushing up the cost of financing a car. The Fed indicated Wednesday that another hike is likely at its July meeting.

For new cars, the average transaction price was an estimated $44,832 in May, according to the J.D. Power/LMC Automotive forecast. For used cars, consumers are paying an average $31,450, according to CoPilot, a car shopping app.

An affordability index published by Cox Automotive and Moody’s Analytics shows that the number of median weeks of income needed to purchase a new car rose to 41.3 weeks in May from 40.8 weeks in April — and up from about 35 weeks a year earlier.

3 ways to save on buying a new or used auto

While current market conditions aren’t favorable for car buyers, there are ways to try bringing the cost of a new or used auto down. Here are some tips from Edmunds:

  • Know your trade-in value. The extra equity from a trade-in is your biggest negotiating tool in today’s market.
  • Know your pre-approved interest rate (i.e., from a credit union or bank). Even if you have excellent credit, it’s good to get pre-approved for a loan and know what interest rate you qualify for — which helps determine how much car you can actually afford — and then see if a dealership will match or beat the rate you can get elsewhere.
  • Know your overall budget. With prices and interest rates heading higher, you may not be able to afford as much car as you think. Consider costs aside from monthly payments, including depreciation, taxes, fees, fuel, maintenance and repairs.

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