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When it was new, the price of a typical 2019 Toyota Tacoma SR double cab pickup window sticker was just below $ 29,000. Two years later, dealers are paying nearly $ 1,000 more than that, even if they use the same vehicle. Then they sell it to consumers for over $ 33,000.

Welcome to the eccentric world of US car and truck sales. Pandemic In addition, the global shortage of computer chips has pushed prices to record levels.

Rising used car prices accounted for one-third of last month’s sharp rise in inflation, according to the Ministry of Labor. According to car market tracker Edmunds.com, inflation surged 5%, the largest 12-month rise since 2008, with prices hit a record high of 10% in April and even more in May. It increased by 7.3%.

“The rise in used car prices was a trend we noticed last summer and has really intensified in the last few weeks,” said Jessica Caldwell, executive director of insights at Edmonds. May CBS Money Watch.. “To be honest, I’ve heard numbers that I don’t pay. [$20,000] This is the case with Maxima, especially if you have a lot of miles. Strange things are happening. “

Used car prices have risen by an average of 30% over the past year, according to the Black Book, which tracks car and truck data. Alex Yurchenko, senior vice president of data science at the company, said this created many crazy situations where demanded vehicles sold better than when they were new.

Computer chip shortages can last all year round

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“Currently, the market is very strange,” Yurchenko said. “Dealers are paying a lot for their cars in the wholesale market because they need inventory.”

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At an auction (where dealers buy vehicles), Yurchenko discovered 73 models of vehicles 1-3 years ago that were sold at a higher price than the original sticker, called the manufacturer’s suggested retail price.

Many of the models Yurchenko found are expensive trucks and SUVs, such as the high-performance Ford F-150 Raptor pickups, the 2019 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon SUV, and the box-shaped Mercedes G-Class AMG 63, or very popular roadout vehicles. was. High-performance SUV.

However, the two-wheel drive Tacoma SR is Toyota’s best-selling small pickup, the lowest-priced model. Sure, the high-end version of Tacoma was also on the list, but more mainstream cars are selling at a higher price than the original price. For example, the 2020 Kia Telluride and Hyundai Palisade, both considered good values ​​compared to the more expensive SUVs with three rows of seats, are on the list.

Yurchenko says crazy prices are moving further to more ordinary cars. “Before this is overcome, the prices of many mainstream vehicles will approach the manufacturer’s suggested retail prices,” he said.

Driven by rarity

According to Caldwell of Edmans, the main factor pushing up the price of used cars is lacking, and almost all of the usual sources of used cars are confused by pandemics. A decrease in new car sales over the past year means a decrease in trade-in. People are extending their lease. Car rental companies, which are usually reliable sources of used cars, buy used cars instead to rebuild vehicles that were sold last year due to business trips and tourism suspensions.

It all started in April and May last year when US carmakers were forced to close their factories for eight weeks to stop the spread of the new coronavirus. It reduced production and limited inventories even if demand remained surprisingly strong.

The factory returned earlier than expected. In the meantime, computer chip makers have switched to manufacturing semiconductors for phones, laptops, gaming systems and other consumer electronics. As a result, there was a shortage of car chips, forcing car companies to temporarily close their factories, leaving few new cars at some dealers.

Due to the shortage of new cars and soaring prices, the number of people entering the used car market is increasing, and demand is also high. In addition, car rental companies, which are usually sources of late-model used cars, keep their cars longer because new cars are not available, Yurchenko said.

Currently, consumers who have to replace their vehicles do not have many options. “Unfortunately, if you need a vehicle, you have to pay for it,” Yurchenko said.

Signs of slowdown

However, there are signs that price increases are beginning to slow. Used car prices rose 0.75% last week, the lowest weekly rise in 17 weeks. According to the Blackbook, truck and SUV prices rose 0.68%, the lowest weekly rise in 15 weeks.

Karl Jensvold, owner of PrikedRiteAutoSales, a used car dealer in Lincoln, Nebraska, said wholesale prices were flat, but didn’t expect them to fall soon. “I think the regular used car market has been reset to another price range,” he said. “I don’t think the price will appear before (from) the COVID for a while.”

Yurchenko said that at some point prices would have to return to normal and used cars would fall again. He said the timing depends on the time it takes to get more computer chips so that automakers can resume normal production. “As new inventory levels begin to rise, pressure on the second-hand market will ease,” he said.

Stephen Gandel contributed to this report.