What to know when shopping for a car in today’s market
- Jeff Drennen Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram has been in Coshocton for 20 years and in the Ford lot for nine. He also has a lot in Zanesville and nearly 100 employees in both cities.
- New car purchases are down, Drennen said, leading to fewer internal trade-ins and used car inventory being down as well. Drennen is looking forward to becoming a car buyer, whether you get a car from him or not.
- Crossovers and small SUVs are very popular now with standard white, black or gray options. Navigation is off because most people are on their phones.
- While the end of the year is thought to be the best time to buy a new car, Drennen said March has always been the busiest time with the end of winter and income tax filings.
COSHOCTON — Locals are particular about what they want when it comes to purchasing a new or used car, and low inventory has made it difficult to find options.
The COVID-19 pandemic has led to manufacturers increasing their private label prices, and they’ve been more stingy with rebates, Jeff Drennen said. This leads to fewer people buying new cars and more searching for used cars. However, the lower number of trade-ins means their pre-owned inventory has decreased. This leads Drennen to pursue being a car buyer, whether someone buys a new car from him or not.
Jeff Drennen Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram has been located on Otsego Avenue in Coshocton for 20 years. Jeff Drennen Ford came to South Second Street nine years ago. There are 40 employees between the two parts, and Drennen also has a dealership in Zanesville with 55 employees.
Both lots are doing well, but sales are not as high as they have been in some past years, Drennen said. He said many across the region are facing the same issues due to some key factors. This includes inventory shortages, rebates and higher interest rates.
“In general, the industry as a whole has been at a standstill,” Drennen said. “Inventory levels with the right mix have been a little difficult. When that happens, it slows down your new car volume, so the used car market goes up and volume goes down as well. That was the inventory piece and there was no rise in interest rates.” “It didn’t help us.”
When is the best time to buy?
The perceived wisdom is that the end of the year is the best time to buy a new car, Drennen said.
“We’re aggressive with year-end pricing, and we’re trying to get our inventory down with the current model year for upcoming new models. From an owner’s perspective, you don’t want to pay taxes on previous model year vehicles,” he said.
March is usually the busiest time, Drennen said. Part of that is because people are getting their income tax refunds and part of it is because people are craving something new after a cold, hard winter.
What are buyers looking for?
No matter the company, Drennen said small SUVs and crossovers are very popular. But the price point has to be there, from about $15,000 to $25,000.
“Our customers who move out of cars or sedans and into a small SUV or crossover, they’re not coming back. We’re seeing that more and more,” Drennen added.
When it comes to colours, bright reds and blues have been left out. Flat and dull colors are very popular in shades of grey, black and white, said seller Adam Mills.
When it comes to options, Mills said mobility used to be great, but now most people use their phones. Items like power locks and windows, cruise control, and a rear camera are common.
“You can’t really get a basic vehicle anymore. Most of them are pretty well equipped,” Mills said.
Buying used versus new
Drennen said they have more customers buying used cars, mainly because they are cheaper. Third party online buyers are popular now and he is exploring this market more. He said they were paying above the Blue Book value and Mills said there wasn’t a deal they couldn’t close yet.
“If you’re not interested in buying from us, we’re still interested in buying from you. We’ve had some success. We pay people for their cars, we don’t steal anything. For the right, first, we’re stepping up and paying for it,” Drennen said. “We’re going to become a hub.” To buy cars and not just a new car dealership.”
Vehicles are inspected and any work required will be completed. Drennen said they have to evaluate the cost of any repairs compared to what they think they can sell them for.
“We don’t sell junk. We can’t sell cars we can’t stand behind,” Drennen said.
Drennen knows some people think they have to leave Coshocton to get a good deal or find what they’re looking for. He hopes the trend of buying local and buying continues because it helps the community in so many ways. This includes dealers who make local charitable contributions and provide employment from salesmen to mechanics.
“We’ve been here. We have a good reputation. We do business the right way,” Drennen said. “We like to think that when you buy from us, you are part of our family and we want to take care of you for life.”
Leonard Hayhurst is a community content coordinator and general news reporter for the Coshocton Tribune with more than 15 years of local journalism experience and the recipient of numerous awards from the Ohio Associated Press. He can be reached at 740-295-3417 or email@example.com. Follow him on X (formerly Twitter) at @llhayhurst.