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Used Car Prices to Fall as Wholesale Prices Decline

The wholesale prices car dealers pay for the used cars they later sell dropped in March. Wholesale price changes become retail price changes in about six to eight weeks, so the news likely means lower prices are coming at the used car sales lot near you.

Used car prices have been in a slow, steady decline throughout 2024.

The news comes from Kelley Blue Book parent company Cox Automotive. Cox Automotive also owns Manheim, operator of the largest used car auctions in America. Its Manheim Used Vehicle Value Index tracks prices paid at auctions.

The index finished March 14.7% lower than a year ago — a deeper decline than analysts had expected.

Used car prices usually increase slightly this time of year as tax returns allow many Americans to start car shopping. The index adjusts to compensate, and the bump is smaller this year than last.

Related: Is Now The Time To Buy, Sell, or Trade-In A Car?

“From a historical perspective, we typically see a 3.4% increase in March (non-seasonal) and came up with a 3.1% this year,” explains Cox Automotive Chief Economist Jonathan Smoke. “We expect the market and prices to continue a downward trend — demand is tepid at best, as shoppers just don’t have any urgency to buy in the current economic environment.”

With further decreases likely ahead, they’re right to wait.

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