New car buyers still face long waits, high prices

New car keys exchange hands
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Spring is right around the corner, and many people may be looking to upgrade to a new car, pickup or SUV.

But this spring, shoppers are likely to face higher prices and longer waits than they may have expected.

With shortages of new cars stretching into a second year, many shoppers like Carmen Decks may have to wait a while for the Mustang Mach E he was eyeing.

“It’s really nice, with a lot of features in it,” he said.

Things Are Improving…Slowly

Charlie Howard, a spokesman for the Automobile Dealers Association, says the good news is that the computer chip shortage is starting to ease. But he says the bad news is that dealer lots will remain thin until summer because most vehicles on the lot have already been pre-purchased.

“Demand is robust, so it is going to take a while for that to come back to the normal level,” he said.

Howard says those who want a pickup, crossover or full-size SUV will probably have to order it. He says:

  • Current waits typically range from two weeks to four months, depending on model and popularity.
  • A red-hot model like a Ford Bronco, Ford Maverick or some Teslas can still have wait times as long as a year.

Howard says even when the chip shortage subsides later this year, consumers will still face a long wait for the full-size Ford Bronco due to incredible demand and a backlog of thousands of orders.

“The Bronco, obviously,” Howard said. “There are a number of these newer models that are very popular. You are probably going to have a little bit of a wait.”

On top of that, many dealers are adding “market adjustment” surcharges. That can bring prices over the sticker from $2,000 for a smaller crossover to as much as $10,000 on a Cadillac Escalade.

For shoppers like Tim Schneider, that’s fine. He says he has had his eye on a new Ford Maverick hybrid pickup but knows it might take up to a year to get his.

“That’s no big deal for me because I am not in a huge rush,” Schneider said.

But for many other new car buyers who need a new set of wheels now, this spring could be as frustrating as last year. That could mean limited choices and high prices until dealer inventories start to fill up again later this year.

As always, don’t waste your money.

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John Matarese

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