Computer chip shortage amid pandemic leads to low car inventory

The rising cost of vehicles means that your used trade-in is also worth more.

Video Transcript

MICHAEL FINNEY: And at the beginning of the pandemic, toilet tissue and sanitizer were hard to find. Now it's computer chips. That's causing havoc with the auto industry, which means consumers are having a harder time finding the vehicles they want.

Auto manufacturers can't buy all the computer chips they need, so the supply of vehicles is tightening. Karl Brauer is with the automotive website

KARL BRAUER: It's not really that they're producing less chips, it's that there are more reasons to produce chips now or more demands for chips.

MICHAEL FINNEY: Fewer chips, fewer vehicles new and used, but that doesn't mean you can't find what you want.

LILITH LERMA: I never thought I would have a luxury vehicle in my life, and I walked away with my dream car.

MICHAEL FINNEY: Lilith Lerma of Antioch is sitting in the car she just purchased. She thinks the pandemic has made buying a car easier.

LILITH LERMA: The whole process was fast, and seamless, and probably the best car buying experience I've ever had.

MICHAEL FINNEY: She isn't the only one with a pleasant pandemic buying experience. Bill Miller is from Pinole. He went looking for a car, found one he liked, and by the time he had started negotiating, the price had dropped.

BILL MILLER: Ford had lowered-- and I don't understand why they lowered, because they don't have the inventory-- the prices on the 2020s by five thousand some dollars difference.

MICHAEL FINNEY: Bill had wanted a 2021 model year but says there weren't many to choose from in his area. Now, there are ways around the shortage. Mike Patel is the principal owner of Fremont Ford.

MIKE PATEL: We would like to have more cars, but we have a lot of incoming vehicles too. And we're preselling a lot of stuff that normally people would already be here, but people are willing to wait to get what they want.

MICHAEL FINNEY: Fremont Ford's general manager Michael Pollom says, it's an easy process.

MICHAEL POLLOM: If we don't have the vehicle they want, then we look at the list of what's coming in.

MICHAEL FINNEY: And if you have a trade in, more good news. Because there are fewer new cars to buy, used cars are worth more. That's tough on buyers, but good for those trading in.

MIKE PATEL: They're worth more than they've ever been. There is not a time I can remember used car prices have been-- the values have been higher.

MICHAEL FINNEY: Manufacturers and dealers are competing, really competing for your business, but don't get complacent. You need to do your research, find out how many cars are out there, what they're worth, and what you're willing to pay. Then go onto the lot, and make your deal. Dan.