Cash for clunkers has raised used car prices, particularly for the poor looking for cars under $5000
In her search for a cheap, used minivan for her and her husband, Krissy Dieroff has visited seven dealerships across Berks and Schuylkill counties in the last week, but to no avail.
"There's not much to pick from, and the ones we do find are overpriced," said Dieroff of Auburn, Schuylkill County, while browsing the lot of a city dealership on Monday.
Dieroff blames the shortage of inexpensive used cars on the federal cash-for-clunkers program, in which almost 700,000 used vehicles were traded in for newer, more fuel-efficient vehicles, and then scrapped.
Some local used car dealers specializing in vehicles priced $5,000 and under agreed that there are fewer inexpensive vehicles available.
The trend is occurring nationally as well.
The Manheim Used Vehicle Value Index reported that prices reached record highs in September. The consulting firm that publishes the index blamed low inventories.
That's bad news in Berks, where many shoppers seek inexpensive, used vehicles, especially during difficult economic times, said George Tabakelis, general manager of Perry Auto Service & Sales on Route 61 in Perry Township.
"Customers used to be able to find a good car for their son or daughter to take to college for $2,000 or $3,000, but now that same car may cost $5,000," Tabakelis said. "It's sad."