On Your Side: Ways to save if you’re buying a car

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) – With inflation hitting the wallets of every single American household, it is a tough time to make a big purchase.

The average payment is about $700 a month if you’re looking to buy a car. Since the pandemic, new and used car prices have gone up about $10,000.

No small chunk of change, without the price of everything else going up.

We’re on your side with ways to save if buying a car now is your only option.

Jenny Kincaid recently moved to Augusta for a new job opportunity. As a single mom, she says her 2010 Ford Fusion picked the most inopportune time to start going kaput.

“I have gotten a lot of life out of it, but recently we’ve been dealing with a lot of things, the struts going out, the brakes doing something weird,” she said.

The mechanic told her the car needed about $5,000 worth of repairs, and they’d need to keep it for a week. A double whammy she cannot afford.

“I’m just trying to run the wheels completely off the car cause right now that’s just the only option I have,” said Kincaid.

That’s because new and used cars are also impossibly expensive right now.

Karl Bauer is with iSeeCars.com.

“Flexibility is really your friend now. The market is pretty brutal right now. Bauer says since COVID, the average used car is $34,000. And a new car? An average of $44,000.

We asked him if we are at the mercy of the chip shortage, or inflation, or both.

“We are at the mercy of really multiple factors. Whether it’s inflation, chip shortage, or used car shortages where people can’t find the new cars they want, so they are keeping their old cars,” he said.

In Augusta, iSeeCars.com says prices have risen nearly 13% this year over last.

Compared to the national average of a 15% rise in price. For Kincaid, the sticker shock is real.

“Even a used car with almost 100,000 miles on it, the payment is almost $600/month. Can’t afford that,” she said.

Bauer says if repairs are affordable, that may be your best bet for now. If they aren’t, then consider broadening your search.

“You can save $2,3, 5,000 by going a couple hundred or even more than a couple of hundred miles. That’s probably not a bad use of your time,” he said.

He even recommended considering a one-way ticket to fly to buy your next car and then drive it home if the price is right. He also says an older car with 60 to 80,000 miles isn’t as bad as it may sound.

“Good news is most modern cars, when I say modern last 10 years or so, are very well produced and very well constructed, so you’re going to have really high quality and long life,” said Bauer.

Kincaid hopes she can find something that fits that bill within her price range.

“I’m trying to save everything that I possibly can towards it, but right now I’m just hoping and praying that things don’t get any worse,” she said.

So where is the price relief? Bauer says until we can get new car production flowing to relieve the pressure on used car demand and new car pricing, you’re going to see higher prices. So, no hard end is in sight.

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