Drivers fixing old cars instead of buying new

Published: Feb. 4, 2022 at 9:11 PM PST
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PORTLAND, Ore. (KPTV) - New and used car prices keep climbing, frustrating many car buyers.

Sandra Hunt bought a 2004 Camry used in 2007.

“It’s held up really good, but it needs some work, you know,” said Hunt. “I’ve been ready for another car for a long time.”

But like many drivers, Hunt can’t afford something else.

“I don’t expect anything new, just a little bit newer than I have now,” she said.

The average used car price is a little more than $28,000, according to Cox Automotive. That’s more than 40% higher from 2019.

The average new car price is around $45,000. At the end of 2019, it was closer to $38,000.

“Oh, they’re terrible,” said Hunt. “I think a lot of people are learning to live with what they have and make things stretch and make things work.”

That’s exactly what Cale Pelton, Manager at Atomic Auto in Portland, is noticing.

“We see a lot of our customers that have been waffling between buying a new car and fixing their old one and they decide, ultimately, to fix their old car to keep it on the road,” said Pelton. “I’d say 80% of our customers are doing that right now.”

To keep a car running as long as possible, Pelton has some general maintenance tips.

“Always do your regular scheduled oil changes,” he said. “Keep up on tires, keep up on the regular transmission drain and fills.”

That’s what Hunt said she’s doing, plus a little more.

“About six months ago I had to get tires,” said Hunt. “I had the oil changed recently and they told me the front brakes are gone, so I’m saving up to get brakes on it now.”

“So, anytime I turn the key in the car and it starts, I give it a little pat and say thank you,” she continued.

Some car experts suggest prices could drop later this year, as the inventory shortage improves.