The fever may be breaking in used vehicle prices, which have been high since the economy tanked more than four years ago.
Wholesale used vehicle prices fell 3.6 percent, to $9,893 on average, in June compared with the same month of 2011, according to data compiled by Tom Kontos, executive vice president of customer strategies and analytics at Carmel-based wholesale auction chain Adesa Inc.
Average wholesale used vehicle prices were $10,271 the previous month and $10,259 in the same month of 2011.
As gasoline prices moderated this year, the average paid at auction fell more dramatically for cars —by 6.9 percent—than for trucks, which were down only a half-percent, Kontos said in his June report.
In fact, prices for full-sized sport-utility vehicles were up 7.1 percent in June over the same time in 2011.
Prices for full-sized vans, favored by contractors, rose nearly 10 percent.
Showing the biggest decline in price at auction were compact cars—down 8.5 percent. Compacts had been in hot demand when gas prices spiked last year.
The recesssion resulted in fewer new car sales, thus fewer off-lease cars coming back to auction in recent years. The smaller supply led to higher prices.
Also, many consumers fearing job loss have held onto their cars longer than usual, bringing even fewer vehicles to auction.
Kontos' analysis was based on nearly 7 million sale transactions from more than 170 of the nation’s largest wholesale auto auctions, including those of Adesa.
Lower prices paid at auction don’t necessarily correlate to a lower retail price once the dealer puts a car on the lot. But the easing pricing environment might be something for consumers who’ve been gob-smacked by the price of used cars to keep in mind when negotiating.