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Deals at car dealerships this holiday weekend if you can find a vehicle on the lot

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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WPTA21) -- Labor Day is typically known as a good time to buy a car because dealerships traditionally offer great deals.

However, this year is different because of the chip shortage that's idling auto plants across the country, including the General Motors assembly plant in Fort Wayne.

"Normally we have 300 cars available, and now we usually have less than 100," O'Daniel Jeep Sales Manager Craig Ruskaup said.

Ruskaup says inventory has been limited since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic when the international semiconductor chip shortage began.

"If you have a used car to trade, you're going to get a high value for that on a used car, so it's kind of even. So it's actually a better value to buy a new car right now," a sales manager said.

"One of the plants burned down, and just like everybody, nobody knew what was going to happen so they slowed everything down, and then nothing slowed down. So now everybody's playing catch up with one less plant, so it's still a shortage," he said.

He says customers understand about the chip shortage and have been flexible in buying a vehicle that might not check every box on their wish list.

"You come in and maybe want to buy a blue one, you have to take a red one," Ruskaup said.

And you might be lucky to get even that.

"We have 100 cars coming in this month, 48 of them are already sold. So probably by the time the end of the month gets here that number will probably go to 75. So 75 out of 100 cars that come in this month are already pre-sold," he said.

He says even though inventory is low for new and used cars, and even though manufacturers might not be offering as many rebates on new vehicles, you could end up getting a good deal anyway.

"If you have a used car to trade, you're going to get a high value for that on a used car, so it's kind of even. So it's actually a better value to buy a new car right now," Ruskaup said.

As a sales manager, he says it's exasperating not to be able to get customers exactly what they want.

"It's the most frustrating thing because any time before, we can get you whatever you want. Whatever color, whatever options, we can have it here for you maybe in a day at the longest maybe six weeks. And we can't do that anymore," he said.

He says because manufacturers aren't able to assemble new vehicles, their suppliers are behind, as well, creating another shortage of parts and accessories.

Corinne Rose

Corinne Rose is a reporter for WPTA.

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