Sandy effects drive up used car prices

Damaged cars being turned into dealerships forces up used car costs

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - More than two weeks after coming ashore, Superstorm Sandy could have a local impact on people's wallets, specifically when it comes to buying a car.

Thousands of cars are estimated to have been damaged during the storm. That means more and more used vehicles are popping up on showroom floors, which could affect what the consumer ends up paying.

The National Automobile Association estimates nearly a quarter of a million vehicles were totaled in Hurricane Sandy when it that took aim on the East Coast. As a result, automobile experts say they expect a sudden burst in demand, which could raise the price of a used car by more than 2 percent.

"It hasn't impacted us yet," said Peppermint Patty, of March Motors. "But soon, vehicles will trickle down this way."

People in the Jacksonville area have probably seen Peppermint Patty's lively commercials on their TV. Patty said while March Motors hasn't seen the impact on car demand yet here locally, it's something her buyers have a close eye on.

"It also means the prices could go sky high for the dealer and it could transfer to a customer," Patty said. "Why? Supply and demand."

Superstorm Sandy is not only causing a surge in automobile demand, it's also affecting the nation's supply.

Toyota said it lost 4,000 vehicles awaiting shipments to dealers in the storm. Ford lost 800 new vehicles in inventory and Honda lost roughly 3,500 cars.

Car dealers say they're also on the lookout for flooded cars that underhanded sellers will try to sneak back into the market.

"Some of those used vehicles trickled our way and we didn't purchase them," Patty said. "You can detect rust in the vehicle and the smell. Don't buy them."

Copyright 2012 by All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.