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Used car price rises not letting up as predicted, and the peak hasn't come yet

It looked like the market was set to peak this past summer, but new car inventory woes continue to push used prices higher.

Car for sale
Used cars aren't the best deal at the moment.
Fotog/Getty Images

It remains a poor time to be in the market for a new car. Or a used car. According to an Automotive News report on the latest data from Cox Automotive on Monday, wholesale used car prices rose to record highs this past September. In turn, that means the prices dealers charge used car buyers also continue to rise.

Year-over-year, wholesale prices are up 27% compared to September 2020. From August, September saw prices climb 5.3%. The increases coincide with continued difficulties for automakers to build enough cars to meet people's demands. The semiconductor chip shortage, according to the most recent estimates, may not start to stabilize until sometime next year. And only in the first half of 2023 may the industry enter an actual recovery phase. Without enough chips, carmakers will remain stuck as buyers won't be able to find the vehicle they're shopping for. In fact, recent data also shows many buyers are starting to give up and postpone a car purchase entirely.

That leaves many people looking to the used car market to score a better deal, or any car at all. But with demand high, prices will continue to climb. Cox Automotive now forecasts used car prices will peak between now and next spring. Experts originally saw a dip in auction prices this past summer, but that dip appears to be short-lived.