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Record vehicle prices mean record record monthly repayments on new, used

October 15, 2021
Average prices for new and used vehicles are at all-time highs, forcing monthly loan repayments to cross new thresholds.
New-vehicle monthly loan repayments passed $600 during the third quarter of this year, climbing to $614 a month, according to experts at car shopping website Edmunds. That’s nearly $30 a month higher compared with Q2’s average repayment of $586 and $578 in the first quarter.
Meanwhile, the average monthly loan repayment on a used car now is $500, up from $473 in the previous quarter and from $420 in the year’s first period.
There currently is just an 18% difference between the average monthly repayments on new and used vehicles — the smallest gap ever, the website noted.
Prices high despite efforts to ease the pain
The average transaction price for a new vehicle is more than $42,000, a new record. Unsurprisingly, that has trickled down to the used-vehicle numbers as well. Edmunds said it climbed to a record high of $27,306, compared to $25,854 in Q2 2021 and $21,697 in Q3 2020.
"Just when we thought we’d see a cooldown in used vehicle prices, they roared back in September, creating a bit of a roller coaster in the third quarter," said Jessica Caldwell, Edmunds’ executive director of insights. 
"These high prices combined with higher interest rates on the used side have shrunk the difference between new and used monthly repayments more than we’ve ever seen before. Consumers considering a used vehicle rightfully might pause at the fact that today’s used monthly repayment is nearly the same as a new monthly payment five years ago — particularly when they factor in the maintenance that might happen sooner rather than later."
Edmunds experts note that used purchase conditions likely will continue to be unfavorable for car shoppers through the rest of the year and advise consumers who need to make a car purchase to consider alternatives such as leasing or exploring certified pre-owned vehicles. 
What’s a buyer to do?
Aside from getting incredibly lucky and finding a dealer or individual seller who doesn’t realize prices are at all-time highs, what’s a consumer to do? Lease.
"Leasing might offer cheaper monthly payments, and since a lease is a much shorter commitment than a purchase, you can explore makes or models that you might not have considered previously," said Ivan Drury, Edmunds’ senior manager of insights.
"If you have your heart set on used, it’s worth doing some additional research into CPO options. Although they might seem pricier than other used vehicles at first glance, you’re more likely to get a subsidized interest rate, and can have a bit more peace of mind as these vehicles come with a warranty and are generally newer with lower mileage."