Would You Buy a Car at $19,000 over MSRP? Majority Say They Would

  • Despite still-limited supply, car shoppers are not slowing down. A new survey of over 3300 car owners in the U.S. found that 35 percent are not driving the car they wanted, and the other 65 percent say they are willing to pay up to 39 percent over MSRP to get the car they have their eye on.
  • At current prices, that comes to a markup of almost $19,000.
  • Car shoppers in Idaho are most desperate to get a specific vehicle, willing to pay up to 71 percent over the sticker price. Shoppers in the four states with the lowest rates were only willing to pay an 11 percent markup.

The internet is full of tips to help car buyers to not overspend on their new purchases, but it seems like not enough people are putting them to use. Or perhaps the limited supply of new vehicles during the pandemic and the resulting thousands of dollars of dealer markups is causing people to overspend.

Whatever the reason, people are paying higher and higher prices for new cars these days, and it turns out we’re not happy about it. Shocking. For most of 2022, the average price of a new car was around 10 percent over the official price, with the 15 most popular models all costing between 18 and 24 percent more than the manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP), according to iSeeCars.

A new survey commissioned by Quantrell Auto Group of 3361 car owners found that over a third of them (35 percent) said they had purchased a vehicle they hadn’t intended to when they started shopping. The other 65 percent said they would be willing to spend up to 39 percent over MSRP.

Thirty-nine percent.

Keeping in mind that an auto dealer group is behind the study and may be surveying people who are really ready to buy, but still: Given that the average new-car price in the U.S. is now over $48,000, these survey results indicate that a whole lot of shoppers may be willing to spend upward of $19,000 over the sticker price to get the vehicle they want. While the intention to pay is different than actually paying the extra money, vehicle prices aren’t likely to drop if everyone keeps shopping with that attitude.

Some automakers, including Hyundai, Kia, GM, and Ford, have warned their dealers about applying high markups, threatening in some cases to shift allocation to dealers who do not overcharge buyers.

In Some Places, Cooler Heads Prevail

The nationwide survey revealed significant differences between states. The state that’s willing to pay the most over MSRP is Idaho, which sits at an insane 71 percent over sticker. Four states—North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Dakota, and West Virginia—are willing to pay just a comparatively sane 11 percent over MSRP. There may be some clues in the data that show where vehicles are easier to acquire. The four states with the lowest percentage of car owners driving vehicles they didn’t want were Colorado, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Wisconsin.

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