Thursday, July 18

The Strike Could Mean a Rise in Car Prices for Consumers

It’s not a great time to be in the market for a new car.

Prices are rising, options are limited and interest rates are higher than they’ve been in over 20 years. A targeted U.A.W. strike began at three plants in the Midwest at midnight Thursday, and if it lasts long enough, it could cut the supply of vehicles and push prices even higher.

The Federal Reserve started raising interest rates in March last year to combat inflation, eventually pushing its benchmark rate to the highest level since 2001. That has had an effect on rates for auto loans, which are now about 7.4 percent on average for new cars and 11.2 percent for used cars, according to Edmunds.

“You’re going to get sticker shock in two different ways: the actual sticker price, and the cost of financing that purchase,” said Greg McBride, chief financial analyst for Bankrate, an online service that compares the interest rates of various financial products.

Higher interest rates mean those who can put off buying a new car until next year or later, probably will. High rates were the top factor holding back business for car dealers this quarter, according to a recent survey from Cox Automotive.

Mark Scarpelli, the owner of Raymond Chevrolet in Antioch, Ill., said few people who buy cars from his dealership pay in cash, and more expensive, larger vehicles are increasing in popularity. Still, some buyers cannot wait.

“Our folks are needing that vehicle to get to their jobs, support their families, pick up their son or daughter from day care,” he said. “While, in some cases cars and trucks may be a novelty or third or fourth vehicle, 99 percent of the vehicles we sell are for necessity.”