Some used-car dealers are seeing a sharp increase in the price of cars and trucks they purchase for their lots, while others said the increases aren't as steep.
Auto information website Edmunds.com said recently that the average price paid for a used, 3-year-old vehicle was 10.3 percent higher in July than the same month a year ago.
The climb in the average price paid, Edmunds officials said, is the result of an increased demand for used cars and a shrinking supply.
For used car dealer Sam Taha, what Edmunds is reporting is his reality.
"It is crazy," Taha said.
According to Santa Monica, Calif.-based Edmunds, a used subcompact costs $500 more than it did a year ago. Tack on an extra $4,000 for a premium sports car. And a full-size pickup will cost nearly $1,700 more.
"It's been tougher and tougher to buy cars," said Taha, who owns Sam's Automall at 2401 S. Oliver.
Tougher in the sense that Taha is having to pay more at auction.
While he says he's passing some of that additional cost on to customers, he's not including all of that increase in the late-model, low-mileage cars on his lot.
It's difficult enough to sell cars in a down economy, Taha said, much less ones with significantly higher sticker prices. He said he's just taking less profit on each car he sells.
"It's not as we wish it to be, but obviously I'm still open, still paying the rent," Taha said. "We're maintaining, but definitely none of us are getting rich.
"We're hanging on and hoping for the best."
Not all dealers say the price increases are significantly higher.
Monty Hager, owner of Affordable Autos, said he's noticed higher prices at auction.
"But I can't say it's been a drastic change in price or availability," Hager said.
Fred Gorges, general manager at Gorges & Co. Volvo, said prices are higher and inventory is tighter mainly for used cars in the $10,000 to $15,000 range.
"I think there's great demand for pre-owned vehicles," Gorges said. "From a retail standpoint... we sell many more pre-owned cars than new cars."
A lot of car buyers who in a healthy economy would seek out a new or higher-end used car are looking for a used car in that $10,000 to $15,000 range, Gorges said.
"That's what's causing the increase in price," he said.
Joe Spina, senior analyst at Edmunds.com, said demand is one reason for higher used-car prices. There are also fewer vehicles coming off of leases because manufacturers pulled back on leasing. A scaling back of new-vehicle production also is constraining the used-car pipeline. And, because of the economy, some people are simply hanging on to the vehicles they own.
"There so many facets to what is going on in the industry today... all these different moving parts," Spina said.