As it turns out, demand is up for dirt cheap cars and you know what that means? Supply is down. So dirt cheap cars aren't dirt cheap anymore. Everybody's flipping over the last of the rocks desperately searching for a cheap car that will get them around town. It doesn't help, of course that 14 MILLION cars have been removed from the market from natural disasters (earthquake in Japan), closing car lines, cash for clunkers, and overall reduced production.
It all ads up to pricey used cars and that adds to more strain on American families. I'm not just making this up from my own random anecdotal information...though it sort of started that way:
If you happen to be in the market for a used car, move over. There's been a jump in sales and also prices. In fact, brace yourself for some sticker shock. Edmunds.com says the average price for a three-year-old car is up 10 percent over the past year to almost $20,000 -- for something that's used..
At a used car auction in Florence, S.C. this afternoon, Kenny Hyman was on the lookout for good prospects. He is used car sales manager at King Cadillac, Buick and Pontiac. He says it's not just lots of demand that's driving prices -- there's also less supply.
Kenny Hyman: They're just not out there to buy. Some auctions would have 1,000 cars, are having 200 and 300 now.
Probably good for car manufacturers if it's almost cheaper to buy a new car, so hopefully it means jobs. And who knows? Maybe it'll usher in some increased mass transit for the 99%. HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA...that last point was sort of a joke. Never gonna happen.
In the meantime, for those of us looking for a cheap ride that gets us to the store and back...it's getting on the tough side.
Our 1998 Ford Escort up and died several weeks so ago. It was our family's only car. But for a brief period in 2003, we've been a single car family since......well.....since we got married in 1998.
Anyway, our car died leaving the four of us car-less, which would have sucked but for my father's boundless generosity. He "sold" us his Jeep Grand Cherokee on exceedingly generous terms with an infinite repayment horizon. He got the car, used, last year for about $5000 and then passed it along to us so we had a vehicle to drive the family about town, get groceries, get to work...etc. etc.
At 180,000 miles the Jeep runs FANTASTIC. I mean, holy crap. If I were driving blindfolded and couldn't see the odometer I'd think that thing was brand new. But.....then I'd be driving blindfolded and that probably wouldn't end well.
Turns out the straight 6 Jeep engine is the best one they make. Reliable. Durable. Powerful. And holy crap, does it suck up the gasoline.
Now, I'm not looking a gift horse in the mouth, but that jeep is costing us $5 to $12 per day just to get around town. Yeah. It's getting at or below 15 miles to the gallon. We're putting gas on our credit card and I pray a little prayer every time I swipe it.
Why do we drive so much? Mind you, the school system doesn't BUS people anymore, on account of streamlining the school budget and creating more efficiency in the system. So instead of ONE vehicle carrying 40 kids to school, there are now 40 vehicles each carrying 1 kid to school. You know....EFFICIENCY. Driving kids to school alone (one goes to preschool at another location) is sucking up at least $4.
The point is, this Jeep is costing us a bundle just to feed it, so now I'm on the lookout for a different car. My plan was this: Sell the Jeep, then turn around and take that dough to buy something nice and fuel efficient.
I haven't shopped cars for a while but seeing as how we got our Ford Escort with 44,000 miles on in for $3800 in 2003 I was all, like, "Yeah...accouting for inflation, I'll probably find me a nice cheap no frills car for around $5000 to $6000....yeah...yeah..."
Everything, and I mean EVERYTHING in the 40,000 mileage area tends to cost between $8000 and $10,000. Even Ford Focuses with 160,000 miles on 'em are priced in the $9,000 to $10,000 range. It's nuts.
That's well beyond my current...er....means, let's say. I'm looking for something more in the $4000 to $6000 range cuz that's about what I may be able to sell the Jeep for.
Forget about getting a loan.
I recently went to one of those weird car dealerships that has the No Credit/Bad Credit deal thingies....I went just to look at the cars to see if they had a car for the $5000 range. I was brought in, may kids were shown to the "play room" and I was given an presentation about how the company works and was told that a finance specialist would be out shortly to talk to me and that would take "only" fifteen minutes.....
I interrupted "Look....I.....I just want to know if you have any cars under $6000?
She finally relented and escorted me to their pricing board where EVERY SINGLE CAR, from the 1999 Ford Taurus to the 2002 Chevy Cavalier to the 2003 Kia Spectra was priced at the insanely and inappropriately high amount of TWELVE TTHHHHHHHHHHHOUSAND DOLLARS with, get this, a $95 a month car payment. As in "YOU WILL BE PAYING FOR THIS PIECE OF SHIT FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE."
THAT, my friends, is predatory.
This gas situation is kicking our butts. The car situation is kicking our butts. Sounds like it's not just us. It's an epidemic. Folks are scrambling for junkers all at once and so prices are through the roof. But hey............thank GOD we don't have a more robust Socialist train system, eh? Am I right?