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30 Sep 2023

Aerial view of a crowded dealership lot

New and used cars for sale. at an automobile dealership in Glendale, Calif., earlier this year.

Getty Images

Don’t get your hopes too high, if you’re waiting for the typical fall bargain season, when automakers and dealers traditionally put discounts on last year’s models, to make room for the new ones.

True, average car and truck prices have come down a bit, but they’re still close to all-time highs. According to GlobalData and J.D. Power, the average new-vehicle retail transaction price is expected to reach $45,516 in September.

That’s down just $94 from September 2022, and it’s still pretty close to the previous high for any month, which was $47,362, in December 2022.

The current UAW strike is another wild card that could serve to keep car and truck prices high, by reducing new-vehicle production. The longer the strike goes on, the bigger the impact will be.

High prices arrived in the spring of 2020, with business shutdowns and supply-chain problems associated with the COVID-19 pandemic — and really haven’t gone away. Since the worst of the pandemic subsided, a shortage of computer chips has cut into new-vehicle production.

Automakers finally began to make headway with the chip shortage this year — but in the meantime, the Federal Reserve started raising interest rates.

The net effect is that prices, and especially monthly payments, are still unusually high, despite increased new-vehicle production, and a slight increase in manufacturer discounts in 2023.

The average monthly auto finance payment in September is an estimated $726, according to GlobalData and J.D Power. That’s up $15 from September 2022. The average interest rate for new-vehicle loans is expected to be 7.3% in September, vs. about 5.7% a year ago.

Manufacturer discounts are expected to average $1,806 in September, the forecasting and consulting firms said. That’s an increase of 80.8% vs. September 2022, but incentives were at or near record lows a year ago.