Buying a vehicle in 2022 is difficult for many consumers, survey shows

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Consumers may need to settle for what's available or rethink how they travel

Only a couple of months ago, economists predicted that the ripple effect of a car shortage could slam consumers, and they certainly got it right. Supply chain issues have made shopping for a new car a lot less fun than it used to be. With prices continuing to rise, many people are thinking twice about how much they need a new set of wheels.

The ConsumerAffairs Research Team surveyed over 1,000 consumers and asked about the struggles they’ve faced while recently searching for a new vehicle. Our findings show that 28% of people are thinking about simply giving up on looking for a car right now.

Sadly, only 2 out of 5 people who are looking for a new car were able to identify potential options in their price range.

Settle on a vehicle and rethink travel

If you’re still in the pool of vehicle buyers who are determined to buy a new car or truck, there are several things you should expect when doing your shopping. Here are some of our researchers' recommendations to help speed up the process:

Settle for what you can find: Buying a car is a serious investment for most consumers. After going through the process several times over their lifetime, many experienced car owners know what they’re looking for before they even pull up to the lot. 

However, many people are also aware that the current shortage of available cars will limit their options. That might force a determined buyer to settle for a vehicle that meets their budget while only having some of the bells and whistles they’re looking for. 

On the subject of budget, the price ceiling for the consumers surveyed suggests that car buyers are trying to hang on to every dollar they can. The average amount that the survey respondents said they'd be comfortable spending is $21,310, which is less than half of the average price of a new vehicle in 2022 ($47,077), according to Kelley Blue Book. If new vehicle inventory levels remain tight, it’s possible that sticker prices could continue to rise.

Rethink how you travel: With growing concerns about the environment, traffic problems, and rising gas prices, consumers are starting to look at how they travel on a day-to-day basis. The average number of daily personal car trips plunged as much as 45% during the pandemic, thanks in part to people ordering more online and having their purchases delivered. Unfortunately, that's a move that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says does more harm than good to the environment.

The U.S. is split about driving the same or pulling back, according to our survey. Just over half of respondents said they’re not likely to go without a car in the future, but the other half of respondents say they’re likely or moderately likely to pull back on their daily travel. ​​Drivers aged 18 to 25 were more likely to consider taking alternative transportation, while baby boomers were the least likely.

“Going carless is easier for those with reliable public transportation options. People who are able to walk, use a scooter or bike to and from their destinations may also find it easier to make the change,” the ConsumerAffairs research team advised. “Ride-sharing and carpooling are other good alternatives to car ownership when you can’t afford a car or are waiting for your dream car to become available.”

There’s more

The study covers a lot of other aspects car buyers should consider – the most desirable brands, added insights on inventory levels, and more. Consumers can learn more by reading our full list of findings here.

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