More Relief for Used Car Buyers? Wholesale Prices Fall Slightly

The wholesale prices car dealers pay for the used cars they later sell declined about 1% during the month of April. They remain 14% higher than prices one year ago.

The Manheim Used Vehicle Value Index tracks the prices dealers pay for used cars at auction. It is a product of Kelley Blue Book parent company Cox Automotive.

The final sale price of the average used car in America declined for a third straight month in March, ending the month at $27,246. Wholesale prices affect retail prices, so the news may mean used car prices continued to fall in April. We expect to have final numbers on that soon. But price decreases have been small and will probably remain small.

Every type of used car is more expensive than it was a year ago. But vans and minivans have seen the biggest price bump, selling for an average of 29.9% higher than one year ago. Pickup trucks have seen the smallest, at just 0.3%.

Used car sales declined about 13% in April from March. A typical spring bounce in used car sales is coming slowly this year, partly because the IRS is behind its usual pace in issuing tax refunds. But slipping consumer confidence may also be playing a role in light traffic into dealerships.

Consumer Confidence, according to the Conference Board, declined 0.3% in April. The Fed’s move to raise interest rates this week is unlikely to affect used car prices. But the move was designed to slow sales of big-ticket items in order to reduce the risk of inflation.