The 2021 car market has been tough for those searching for a new or used car. Low dealer inventory, a global microchip shortage, and consumer demand are making it increasingly difficult and expensive to shop for new and used vehicles.

According to Edmunds, used cars are more desirable to customers who either can’t find what they are looking for or want a cheaper option. With lower inventory and spiking demand, dealers have little incentive to offer discounts on any of their cars.

Although finding the perfect car right now can seem challenging, there are still plenty of ways to get behind the wheel of your new ride. Visiting a lot and purchasing directly from the dealer is the traditional way to buy a car, but there are alternative options now. You can even get pre-approved through Day Air Credit Union and search for the perfect ride online.

Shopping for cars online is a popular choice, especially now. Most credit unions incorporate car buying services with their memberships, which is a helpful member benefit. But if you want a concierge experience, exploring a door-to-door service, like Carvana, can be appealing. Unfortunately, going through a more convenient option could cost quite a bit more when fees are included. According to The Balance, concierge services typically charge an upfront fee, as well as a percentage of the savings found. These extra fees could cost up to an additional $1,000 so weighing the convenience and investment costs is a smart budgeting practice.

No matter how you buy your new or used car this year, set reasonable expectations for the market we are currently in, keep an open mind, and exercise patience during your search.

Car Buying Tips in 2021

With ultra-low dealer inventory and a global microchip shortage, car buying is a challenge this year. Here are some helpful tips from the experts at Edmunds on the best way to plan ahead:

  • Research market prices and realign your expectations – The market has changed, and the killer deals of years past just don’t exist right now. Once you know today’s market price, you can shift your expectations and paying sticker price for your new car won’t come as such a shock.
  • Expand your search – If you aren’t satisfied with the selection in your area, broaden your search to neighboring towns and counties. By casting a wider net, you might find a better car or even a better deal.
  • Be flexible and have a backup – Don’t fixate on one specific car color or brand. If you have narrowed down the model you want, look at equivalent brands and other colors to find the best deal. Also, keep backup models in mind in case your search comes up empty.
  • Consider a sedan – Trucks and SUVs are by far the most popular vehicles on the road today. Consider finding a sedan to buy, which could be easier to find and much less expensive.
  • Don’t rule out a new car – If you’re set on buying used, consider looking for a new car. Similarly, if you’re shopping for a new car, don’t rule out used ones. Keep your options open to find the perfect vehicle for you.
  • Get the most for your trade-in – Since the market is up, that means your current vehicle is also worth more. If you’re trading in your vehicle, it could go a long way toward a newer, higher-priced vehicle.
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