How to navigate buying a new or used car and SUV this year

Lynnie Goss went to buy a car.

And Goss, who lives in Columbus, was looking to buy an Audi, a high-end German brand.

The problem was, Goss couldn’t find the Audi she wanted in the Columbus area. Not finding exactly what you want when you want it is something that many car buyers face these days, regardless of make and model.

Dealers of all kinds find it more difficult than usual to fully supply showrooms and lots, mainly because computer chip shortages have crippled the industry’s global production just as demand has picked up after the pandemic troughs. This has helped raise prices not only for new cars, but also for used cars, SUVs and light trucks.

Goss began to expand his research and, at a friend’s suggestion, contacted Audi Cuyahoga Falls, owned and operated by the Primm family of Cascade Auto Group.

She told them which Audi sedan model she wanted, an A6 in a specific color called “Carat Beige”.

In fact, the Falls dealership discovered that there were only three new Carat Beige A6 sedans available in the United States. One of the three dealers, in Austin, Texas, agreed to sell its A6 to Cuyahoga Falls. Shortly after, the car was shipped to the State Road showroom.

Goss drove about two hours on Thursday to pick up his all-new Carat Beige A6, which also came with the optional Black Optic pack that replaces all of the car’s standard chrome trim with black.

“I’m not going to want to drive her home. She’s going to get dirty,” Goss joked. “Almost everyone in my family owns an Audi. I’ve never owned an Audi.”

Lynnie Goss checks the interior of her Audi A6 with technologist Chris Reimenschneider Thursday at Audi Cuyahoga Falls.

Tips include adjusted expectations

As the purchase of Goss shows, it is not impossible to find the vehicle you want or need. But it may take longer than usual and you may have to adjust expectations depending on the current environment, say resellers and consumer experts, who have all offered buying advice.

The current shortages are temporary, said Michelle Primm, managing partner of Cascade Auto Group. Others have said the same. It appears that used car prices, which have skyrocketed this year, have peaked, Primm said. Parts for repairs are also scarce, largely due to shipping and delivery issues caused by labor shortages, she said.

“These are weird times,” she said.

Cascade’s Subaru franchise typically sells 80 to 100 vehicles per month, Primm said.

“We started July with six cars [on the lot]. We have 60 coming this month, half of which are already sold, ”she said. Asian automakers are expected to overcome production shortages by the end of August, while European brands will take longer, she said.

It’s typical for an Audi dealership to have a 60- to 75-day supply of vehicles in the field, Primm said. The average is now 19 days.

“There are deals as long as you are flexible and work with someone you trust,” she said.

Primm encourages buyers to stay local. Buyers should consider individual and family vehicle needs. When buying used, check the history of the vehicle, she said. She also recommends that buyers make a 20% deposit and pay taxes and fees.

Tyson Jominy, vice president of data and analytics for JD Power, said people need to do as much homework as possible before they start shopping. That includes looking at consumer ratings and vehicle reviews on sites like JD Power, he said.

Dealer inventories haven’t been so tight since the federal government created the Cash for Clunkers program to help automakers sell new vehicles during the Great Recession, he said.

Problems with vehicle production, parts and transportation have now coincided with a wealth effect created by rising stock prices and home values, Jominy said.

High-end models are the most in demand, he said. “If you have the inventory, you sell it,” Jominy said.

Lynnie Goss installs her radio in her new Audi A6 Thursday in Cuyahoga Falls.

Do your homework and “work with a dealership”

“The best approach for consumers is to work with a dealer,” Jominy said. While a dealership may not have what a consumer wants in the field, the dealership will know what shipments are coming in, he said.

Don’t expect to be able to negotiate prices down, he said. For now, consumers will likely have to choose manufacturer suggested retail prices or higher.

“Don’t expect good deals,” he said.

On the other hand, trade-in vehicle values ​​have increased along with used vehicle prices, he said. A higher trade-in value can help offset the MSRP price without a dicker, he said. Dealers are in desperate need of trade-in vehicles, he said.

A year ago, the average price for a used vehicle was $ 21,000, he said. In January, that amount increased to $ 22,000. And now it’s $ 26,000, he said.

Do your homework up front on trade-in values, new vehicle prices, and also look at financing costs, Jominy said.

“Call your credit union,” he said. If a consumer can qualify for a zero interest loan, get it, he said.

“Pull your credit score. Know what rate you should qualify for, ”he said.

If a consumer can postpone purchasing a vehicle until the end of next year, the current inventory issues should be resolved and the pricing pressures eased, Jominy said.

Leasing often means lower monthly payments, but current leases are typically 10,000 miles per year while the norm was 12,000 miles, he said. For consumers who have reduced their driving, such as fewer commutes, this might make sense, he said.

Options may be limited

Ronald Montoya, senior editor of consumer advice for Edmunds.com, also noted that current shortages are limiting options for buyers. The online site offers vehicle reviews, ratings and more, including sell and trade-in prices.

“There won’t be a lot of choice,” he said. “You might not get a discount. “

While it might be a good idea to focus on a dealer you’ve purchased from before, Montoya also recommended that buyers expand their research beyond their immediate area of ​​life.

“It doesn’t hurt if you have a good relationship [with a dealer],” he said.

Buyers should be careful if looking across state borders due to sales tax implications, he said.

Because of the high prices for used vehicles, it may be a good idea for someone to consider a new vehicle as well, Montoya said.

Long-term loans over 60 months should be avoided, he said. “I don’t want people to get long term loans,” he said.

Cascade Auto Group partner Pat Primm, left, shows Lynnie Goss, right, his new Audi A6 on Thursday in Cuyahoga Falls.

Talk to dealers about incoming vehicles

Adam Huff, president of Fred Martin Superstore, said he sees stocks slowly starting to rise.

Buyers should talk to dealers about what’s happening, not just what’s on the lot, he said.

Buyers can also take advantage of the high trade-in values ​​now, he said.

Lenders are also looking for clients, Huff said. “There is overcapacity on the financial side,” he said.

Buyers should also be aware that manufacturers are still offering model incentives to help maintain market share, he said.

Buyers need to look at the deal price, incentives, business value, and cost of a loan, Huff said. If a buyer finds something that reaches at least three of these four items, then they should consider taking a step, he said. If not, then a buyer is probably better off sitting on the sidelines for a while, he said.

“Focus on those four legs,” Huff said.

Mike Leffler, owner of Appalachian Outfitters on Kendall Park Road on the Peninsula, understands firsthand what car buyers are going through. And he also understands what dealers are going through due to similar circumstances with his business.

He and his wife went to Cascade Auto Group’s Primms, where they have a strong relationship, to purchase a new Audi Q5 hybrid compact SUV. But a month’s search for a vehicle in the United States turned out to be unsuccessful. The Lefflers also looked to other dealerships, but also couldn’t find what they wanted. Leffler said that because they didn’t need a vehicle immediately, they instead ordered a new Q5 from the Primms in the hopes that it would arrive before the end of the year.

“The Primms bent over backwards.… They are doing a great job. I don’t think they could have done anything else,” Leffler said.

The supply chain is broken for many

Leffler said his outdoor retail business is in a similar situation to vehicle dealerships. He cannot buy new kayaks for his store for the rest of the year. Other products are also scarce, he said. And labor shortages are hurting him and others, he added.

“The whole supply chain is broken,” Leffler said. The freighters are anchored off the coast and cannot dock because there are no stevedores to unload the products, he said. And many items that are unloaded cannot be delivered because there are insufficient truck drivers, he said.

“If you’re not a business owner and you’re not going through this, you’re probably a little frustrated,” Leffler said.

Even with product shortages, Leffler said Appalachian Outfitters is having a banner year. And he said he understands that dealerships that include Cascade Auto Group are also having good years, even with inventory shortages.

“Where would we be if we had all the inventory?” Leffler wondered. “It’s a strange situation.”

Jim Mackinnon covers business. He can be reached at 330-996-3544 or [email protected] Follow him @JimMackinnonABJ on Twitter or at www.facebook.com/JimMackinnonABJ.


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