How to navigate the worst car shortage in generations

FAIR LAWN, New Jersey (WABC) -- It's being called the worst shortage of new cars in generations, caused by scarce supplies of semi-conductor chips that power cars' electrical systems.

And as inventories go down, prices go up. So how do you still save if you need new wheels?

First, here's what to know if you're leasing.

"I don't want consumers to panic," said Jack Daniels Volkswagen General Manager Don Chittum.

Chittum says consumers should plan not panic if their lease is up in 30, 60 or 90 days.

Don't wait till the last second to pre-order your next car - and ask the dealer to price-protect it.

If they can't get you in the car you want, ask them to extend the current lease.

Dealers expect it will be "maybe a couple of months until we get through these hard times with the chip issue," Chittum said.

For customers looking to buy, which is cheaper than leasing, shop around.

"By going online you can get an idea of what dealers are charging in your area maybe 70-80 miles away," said Consumer Federation of America Executive Director Jack Gillis.

Since there won't be much room to haggle dollars off the MSRP or sticker price, take the price tag down by buying a less popular car, like a sedan instead of an SUV. And opt to skip all the expensive upgrade packages.

If you can wait until next year, hold off!



You'll get more options with electric cars and 2022 models with more safety features.

But if you can't wait, look into buying a certified, pre-owned vehicle.

"I've never sold more certified, pre-owned since the chip shortage," said Jack Daniels VW Sales Manager Tina Valenti. "But it is a good benefit for them, and they're happy."

The big takeaway: Beware of opting for a longer loan. Those small monthly payments may seem attractive, but you'll pay more in interest.

And shop around for financing. That 0% interest the dealer offers is only for those with stellar credit.

If you have less-than-average credit, consider a credit union or bank.

And finally, the used car market is hot if you're selling.

Consider doing it yourself. You may make more than the dealer will offer you on a trade-in!

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