ROCHESTER, N.Y. — As the summer approaches, many individuals may seek to purchase a used car. However, it's crucial to navigate the process carefully to ensure a reliable and satisfactory purchase. 

Is right now the best time to purchase? The COVID-19 pandemic affected a lot of industries, including the car industry. New cars were largely not being produced, and the price of available cars on the market skyrocketed because of supply and demand.

What You Need To Know

  • The pandemic disrupted the car industry, causing a shortage of new vehicles and a surge in used car prices

  • 8.1 million fewer vehicles reached the used car market between 2020 and 2022, according to Kelley Blue Book

  • Despite the challenges, there is growing interest in electric vehicles, fueled in part by a $4,000 IRS rebate for qualified buyers

The lack of inventory and trade-ins have caused the industry to not quite level out as of yet. According to Kelley Blue Book, new vehicle inventories plummeted from 3.8 million in the spring of 2020 to 820,000 by the fall of 2021. This loss of production led to the industry selling 8.1 million fewer vehicles from 2020-2022 compared to 2017-2019.

Before the pandemic, the average price of a used car was $19,827, but it’s now $26,686 — a 35% increase. The pre-pandemic average of a used vehicle had 65,000 miles on it, but now the average mileage is 71,000 miles, Kelley Blue Book says. That leaves today’s used car buyers paying 35% more for a vehicle with 9% more wear and tear, but there has also been a surge in the electric vehicle market.

"In the used car market, you rely on folks trading in for their new vehicle purchases so that markets re-establishes itself. We see a tremendous value in the electric market. You can buy those for a fraction of what the MSRP is and so are the hybrids. So we see the market coming back and, we're almost to where we were, as I said, pre-pandemic," said John Iannone, president and CEO of Auto Outlet USA.

For electric vehicles, the IRS is giving out an instant $4,000 rebate to qualified buyers, and there is a list of qualifications on the IRS website. The $4,000 can be used as a down payment on any electric or plug-in hybrid vehicle from a licensed dealer of $25,000 or less.