It’s been said the Devil is a cross between a really good used car salesman and game show host, with a lot more style and charm.But even Guy Smiley is going to have a hard time blowing out the excess inventories of secondhand jalopies piling up on local lots.After a period of pent-up post pandemic demand, a combination of higher interest rates and higher prices have created a critical 'affordability crisis' among North American drivers looking to get into a set of four wheels — new or used — according to US auto research firm Cox Automotive, which publishes the closely watched Manheim Price Index.."We are only seeing the tip of the negative-equity iceberg," with vehicle prices, mostly used car prices, expected to keep sliding this year. .And according to Cox, US wholesale prices are down about 4% from a year ago and 18% since the pandemic, which is the largest pullback in its history. In a release, Cox called it a ‘reality check’ for the industry which has enjoyed an extended period of pent up demand.According to the CoPilot buying app, the average price of a used car exceeds USD$33,000 — more than $10,000 more than ‘normal’ if typical depreciation expectations were in play.It comes on the heels of a series of strikes in both Canada and the US that have crimped auto production on both sides of the border. In addition, interest rates have almost doubled from around 3.8% last year to more than 7.3% which “has sparked an affordability crisis among consumers.” It also means more people who panic-bought cars during the COVID-19 peak will find themselves underwater on their car loans and result in higher levels of negative equity. According to JD Power, it will also result in “accelerated depreciation” for owners.."This confirms the caution that was mentioned last month. The UAW strike, avoiding one action that could have led to higher wholesale prices,”Chris Frey, Cox Automotive."As vehicle prices have risen and overall inflation remains elevated, consumers are increasingly starting in higher than average loan-to-value positions to afford used vehicles. It's more important than ever for consumers to effectively manage their payments to fit within their budgets while also allowing for a cushion for other ongoing expenses like insurance and repairs," said TransUnion’s Satyan Merchant, senior vice-president and auto business lead.In a separate report, TransUnion warned: "We are only seeing the tip of the negative-equity iceberg," with vehicle prices, mostly used car prices, expected to keep sliding this year. Which means it's almost inevitable that a flood of repossessed vehicles will hit the markets in due course..Wholesale vehicle values typically experience some modest increases during the holiday season and with a month-and-a-half remaining in the year, there could still be some upward price movements. But overall, it’s a bad time to be selling a car."This confirms the caution that was mentioned last month. The UAW strike, avoiding one action that could have led to higher wholesale prices,” added Chris Frey, Cox’s senior manager of economic and industry insights.