Used cars aren't necessarily cheap transportation any more. As of June, prices had soared 45% in the past year, according to the Consumer Price Index, and the average list price was approaching $25,000.
The price spike is happening partly because a shortage of semiconductor chips has hampered production of new autos. Another factor: Rental-car companies sold a lot of their inventory last year, pushing prices down, but are holding on to all their vehicles now because of the rebound in travel. Relief may be on the way: Used car prices fell a bit in the first two weeks of July, according to Manheim Consulting.