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LEHEIGHTON (AP) — Some used car dealers are buying certain trucks and SUVs for the same prices that they were sold for new two years ago.

Used vehicles are the latest industry to experience price hikes due to the pandemic and subsequent recovery.

Not unlike in the currently booming housing market, there are a lot of buyers and not a lot of inventory available — which means prices that can be as high as new cars were a couple of years ago.

“There’s not enough product and way too much demand at this point. Anytime I can get a vehicle, it goes right away. It’s hard to buy,” said Scott Miller, owner of Customer 1 Auto in Lehighton.

The demand for used cars is stronger than it has been in years. Experts say that there are a number of contributing factors including a shortage in the inventory of new cars.

Car manufacturers have struggled to keep dealerships supplied because of a lack of the computer chips used in their production. Factories were closed for eight weeks early in the pandemic, and some overseas factories making the chips changed over to making chips for electronic devices.

The limited inventory of new vehicles has pushed buyers into the used market, making it more competitive.

According to the car pricing service Black Book, used car prices increased by 10 percent in April and another 7.3 percent in May. The vehicles that have seen the greatest price increases are trucks and SUVs with some fetching their original price at trade-in.

“In some cases, people can get as much as they paid for a vehicle they bought two years ago,” said Gary Salijko, general sales manager for Lehighton Ford.

Miller said the increase in prices has affected all levels of the industry. The cars at his buy-here, pay-here dealership are priced lower than what you would find at a normal dealer, but costs have still increased.

“Every segment, the prices are going up in the upper segments, it’s shifting buyers down to lower and lower segments, and pushing those prices up,” Miller said.

Family Motors Too in Towamensing Township sells cars to people looking to spend under $7,500 for the most part. Their lot is less than half full at this point, and they’re starting a waiting list for buyers looking for particular cars. The availability of cars is as low as owner Gary Rosenberg has seen in 34 years selling cars.

“I’ve been going to new car dealers and the auctions, and the prices are just insane right now. We’re having a hard time getting inventory,” he said.

Rosenberg said it has caused him to look further away to purchase cars than he normally would.

Dealers say another contributing factor to the demand in the used car market is the extra money consumers have because of the federal stimulus.

“People have a lot of money in their pockets right now,” Miller said.

A big source of used cars is trade-ins. But the demand makes it easy for sellers to put their cars online and get more in return.

“They’re getting more to sell them outright. Sometimes they have to use trade-in as down payment, but we’re seeing less now,” Rosenberg said.

If more new cars hit the market, it could alleviate some of the competition for used cars.

New car dealers said they have heard that they will receive more of the most in-demand new models, but they may be several months away.

Black Book says that the increase in the price of used cars did stop growing this week.

Dealers can’t predict if that’s a sign that the market has reached its peak. They know that they don’t want to be stuck with cars that they bought at a premium, but they also want to keep customers happy.

“When this all ends, you don’t want to be holding 30 cars that you paid twice what they’re worth. It’s very hard being a dealer, to buy the correct number of cars. You just never know,” Miller said.

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