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Auto shops set business records as more consumers choose repairs over trade-ins

Used car prices are at unprecedented levels. Since many consumers can't afford the car they want, they're instead fixing what they have.

SAN ANTONIO — Used car prices are at unprecedented levels.

In January 2021, the average price in San Antonio was $20,000. This year, the number soared to almost $30,000, according to CARFAX

That's a 50% spike in just one year.

With more consumers unable to buy the car they want, they're fixing what they have.

As KENS 5 learned, as a result, auto shops are busier than ever.

At Belden's Automotive & Tires, for example, they set a record for business in 2021.

"In previous years, they may have said, 'You know what, I'm probably just going to trade it in'. Now they're not doing so at this moment," said Mark Partida, the District Manager for Belden's Automotive & Tires.

RELATED: The new car market is dry while used cars are flying off lots. Here's how you can get the best deal.

Right now, it's cheaper to repair a vehicle than buy a new one. That's what's driving a large portion of business for the auto shop's seven locations.

"If they wanted to purchase a vehicle, they're not available," Partida explained. "They are going to pay premium to buy a used vehicle right now, so they decided to keep their own and invest in the vehicle they have currently."

Used car listings from CARFAX show a big difference in the price between this year and last year.

San Antonio's price jumped 50%. Statewide, the price jumped 38% and nationwide, 40%.

Credit: CARFAX

"Prices in the used car market are actually tied a lot to what we're seeing in the new car market. So we've seen those headlines about the production issues and chip shortages with new cars. That is trickling down to the used cars," said Emilie Voss, Director of Public Relations for CARFAX.

Supply chain issues are also causing trouble for auto shops, amid the bump in business.

"Right now the challenge is parts availability," said Partida. "A lot of parts are on national back order or just very hard to find."

Repair wait times could be longer than anticipated.

"We'll either set an appointment, pre-order, whatever we need to do to accommodate our customers," said Partida.

Despite the high prices, consumers are still choosing to pay top dollar for used cars.

RELATED: SCAM ALERT: Be on the lookout for water-damaged used cars hitting the market

Experts warn, before you buy, make sure to get an inspection and take a test drive. It's best to understand as much as you can about the vehicle history.

If you're in the market to sell your vehicle, CARFAX.com/value will show you the trade-in value for your car and the retail price. Keep in mind, you may make a good chunk of change, but paying for a new or used car may not break even.

Voss says last year, for the first time in history, consumer demand on SUV's surpassed sedans. Now, sedans are back on top. Experts attribute the change to price points compared to larger vehicles like SUV's and trucks.

The big question: Is there any relief in sight with used car prices? Analysts predict the price tag may finally level off during the second half of 2022. This depends on production and chip issues impacting new cars.

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