Mar 11, 2022 - Economy

Used car prices slip, bucking inflation trend

Illustration of top down car on dollar skid marks

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

One tiny ray of light for consumers in Thursday's inflation report was a 0.2% dip in used vehicle prices in February, compared to the prior month.

State of play: A forward-looking gauge of wholesale used car prices also declined roughly 2% in February.

The big picture: The Consumer Price Index showed headline prices up 7.9% compared to the prior year, the fastest increase since 1982.

  • Used cars and trucks were a major driver of last year's sky-high inflation, as disruptions to auto-making — yes, it's supply chains again — kept new cars from making it onto lots.
  • Frustrated buyers turned to used cars instead, driving up demand. The surge in used vehicle prices over the last year is still an eye-watering 41.2%.

Yes, but: While the February dip signals that bottlenecks may have been thawing, the supply chain could always seize up again as a result of the war in Ukraine, which has upended global commodity markets.

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