The crazy U.S. vehicle market over the past couple of years has made it tough for car shoppers. If you absolutely need to get a new or used car right now, you really need to weigh your options.
According to the car valuation site Kelley Blue Book, the average new car price dropped slightly in September 2022 but is still upwards of $48,000; the average used car price in September was just over $28.000.
3 Options if You Need To Buy a New Car Right Now
Money expert Clark Howard has been steadfast in his recommendation that, if at all possible, you should try to hold onto the vehicle you have until prices drop a bit more, and that may mean doing major repairs (more on that later).
But what if you absolutely have to have a new (or new-to-you) vehicle right now? Here is Clark’s advice, and the first option doesn’t actually mean buying.
1. Try a Car Subscription Service
Clark says the Sixt+ car subscription program is a viable option for people looking for a set of wheels on a temporary basis. The website has prices starting at $600 per month with a one-time $200 enrollment fee (which may be waived on certain models).
Clark has always been an advocate of buying and keeping a vehicle for a long time. Because the sky-high vehicle prices are finally starting to drop but still aren’t quite reasonable, he’s offering new advice.
“I’ve never recommended anything like this, but right now, I think the math does work.”
“Buy yourself some time, potentially, with a subscription,” Clark says. “And then when you find that the vehicle you’re interested in is at a price point you’re comfortable with — new or used — there’s no harm, no foul. You terminate your subscription with Sixt, and you get your new-to-you, new or used vehicle.”
Although you shouldn’t expect to see prices comparable to Sixt’s, these companies also offer vehicle subscriptions:
Here are some of the choices I found when I visited Sixt.com.
Sixt recently announced discounts on long-term rentals for people in hurricane-hit parts of Florida.
2. Broaden Your Search
For several months now, Clark has advised that if you really need to buy a car, you should expand your shopping range. We’re talking long-distance.
“If you want a new vehicle, you widen your search even as far as across the country,” Clark says. “Because the price difference can be so substantial from one dealer to another, there is enormous potential benefit for you shopping much wider than you would have in the past.”
Want to know how far you should go? Read in-depth about Clark’s unusual approach to car shopping right now.
3. Wait It Out
The car market is showing signs of correcting itself, although it’s a slow process, Clark says.
If you can continue driving the car you have, perhaps paying for some repairs that will buy you time until the market shapes up, Clark wants you to do the math on that.
“If the cost of the repair is half or less than the value of the car, you should always do the repair,” he says. “If the cost of the repair is between half and the full value of the car, and if you think the car will last for another year, you should do the repair.”
When car prices drop, it’ll be safe for your wallet again, Clark says. In the meantime, if you can wait the market out, you should.
Instead of springing for a new vehicle at an inflated price, Clark says you should explore other options and wait until next year to buy.
“The market will not normalize until – depending on the brand, make and model – sometime typically in 2023,” Clark says. “We’ve seen normalizing processes on the way, but we’re not normal yet.”