Used Car Sales Hit New High Water Mark in 2021

Used car sales set a new record of 40.9 million vehicles in 2021.

Unmet demand for new vehicles due to unavailability forced many new vehicle buyers gobble up late model used vehicles in 2021, setting a new sales record at 40.9 million vehicles.

The total marks a 10% jump compared to 2020 results. According to Cox Automotive, more than half of those — 22.2 million — were sold by used car dealers. The strong sales came despite used car prices rising.

Used vehicles are expected to break a record, with the average monthly payment for used vehicles climbing to $520, an increase from $500 in the third quarter of 2021 and $437 in the fourth quarter of 2020, according to

That payment came over a slightly longer term compared to Q3 2021 — 70 months v. 69.6 months — but the payment jumped, and the amount financed rose by nearly $1,300: from $28,634 to $29,913. 

Car Dealer Lot
Used car sales were up 10% — and so was the average monthly payment, which is now $520.

More of the same in 2022

Cox Automotive Chief Economist Jonathan Smoke said during a recent conference call that used car sales are expected to be strong in 2022, especially as shortages of popular new vehicles are expected to continue through the first half of this year

In a preliminary forecast, Cox predicted 2022 sales will come in at 39.3 million used vehicles in total with 22.1 million of those being retail purchases.

Assuming those figures hold, they’re down from 2021 volume — but only slightly. Perhaps just as noteworthy, they’re a bit higher than 2020’s total used-vehicle sales of 37.3 million and used-vehicle retail sales of 19.8 million.

The analysts expect used volume to soften in the coming years as new-vehicle production ramps back up to higher — and more predictable — volumes as the semiconductor and materials shortages get resolved.

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