Used car, repair shops across San Antonio say price drops are making used vehicles more affordable

SAN ANTONIO – Marc McGurren with Spotless Auto said the used car shop likes to keep its lot fully stocked.

“That is correct,” McGurren said. “There’s this tightrope you have to walk as a car dealership to ensure that you’re stocking the right inventory and that you’re priced right cause everyone goes online to shop for a used car.”

It’s been four years since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, during which time fewer cars were available.

With computer chip shortages and strikes among the United Auto Workers union, dealerships had difficulty bringing in new cars, and McGurren said that’s when buyers turned to used cars. Now, he said, the used car market is on the move, and prices are dropping.

“The market is moving every day,” McGurren said. “We’re changing the prices every day to make sure we’re in line with the consumer demand and pricing that’s out there.”

Cox Automotive, the company behind Kelley Blue Book, reported that wholesale used-vehicle prices dropped nationwide in February of this year. McGurren said in San Antonio, he’s seen the market shift himself.

“It’s so volatile,” McGurren said. “It has normalized. Not fully, I don’t feel we’re in a normalized market pre-COVID, but much closer than we were pre-COVID levels.”

McGurren said the most in-demand vehicles right now are fuel-efficient cars under $30,000.

“It’s been more difficult to get those for the consumers,” McGurren said.

But the used-car industry isn’t the only one adjusting to these market shifts. Erik Garcia owns Erik’s Automotive just west of downtown.

He said that throughout the pandemic, it was hard to handle price jumps for car parts at his repair shop.

“For sure,” Garcia said. “The price of oil shot up. Common stuff, like filters we keep on hand, started doubling.”

Now, Garcia said, part availability is becoming more widespread.

“It’s starting to kind of level out now,” Garcia said.

So, how do these connect? McGurren said more available parts mean more cars on the lot, which means costs should keep coming down.

“I know without a doubt that they will continue to drop,” McGurren said. “How much I think it will be is fractional to what it was.”

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