Used car prices jumped at the fastest rate on record last month, but there’s hope on the horizon

Used car
Used car prices increased 10.5% in June. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
  • Used cars and trucks were 10.5% more expensive in June than in May.
  • That’s the biggest increase since the Bureau of Labor Statistics started tracking in 1953.
  • Used cars have been a major cause of higher price inflation over the last few months.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

If you’re in the market for a used car or truck, get ready to pay a lot.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ monthly Consumer Price Index release showed that inflation in June was much higher than economists had expected. One of the biggest contributors to overall prices rising was the 10.5% increase in used car and truck prices between May and June.

Looking at changes over the last year, used cars in June 2021 were 45.2% more expensive than in June 2020.

New cars also got more expensive, with prices increasing 2.0% between May and June, but those prices have been going up much more slowly than for used cars.

The whopping jump in used car prices was the biggest monthly increase since the Bureau of Labor Statistics started tracking these figures in 1953. It follows two other historically high monthly increases of 7.3% in May and 10.0% in April.

The used car market has gotten so upended that several models are now cheaper to buy new than used.

There are several reasons for the massive jumps in used car prices over the last few months. A global semiconductor shortage has left automakers without the computer chips needed to make new cars, cutting off supplies of new cars.

Rental companies sold off large swathes of their fleets last summer amid collapsing demand during the pandemic. Now that demand has come back, those companies are stocking back up, including turning to the used car market themselves and competing with regular consumers.

Despite the huge price increases of the last few months, relief could be on its way. Insider’s Tim Levin noted that according to Cox Automotive, wholesale car prices declined between May and June, and retail prices could follow.

Similarly, NPR’s Scott Horsely reported that “prices dealers pay for used cars at massive auctions across the country finally dipped in June.”

A research note from Morgan Stanley also predicted that as the auto market gradually returns to normal, “looking ahead we should see used car price increases begin to the decelerate as more recent industry data has started to turn modestly lower.”

But for now, used cars are still quite expensive.