CLAY, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — Buying a car has been a frustrating experience, especially for families on a tight budget. While it’s gotten better, dealerships are still facing a shortage of inventory.

Don’t step on the gas pedal just yet, because you won’t get too far. The pandemic lead to fewer choices, and jacked-up prices and there are still fewer cars on dealer lots.

“Naturally inventory is down from where we were three years ago at this point,” said Nick Capria, general manager of Matthews Kia of Clay.

It’s been a tough couple of years with empty lots, supply chain issues, and shuttered plants. The good news, sparse lots are filling up once again, however, car buying isn’t back to normal just yet.

“I took over this store in 2014. I’ve been here since 2009, but I’ve been in the business almost all my life in service and sales, and there’s never been this much of a crunch for vehicle inventory,” said Capria.

Affecting cars across the board, with the more popular models being tougher to get.

“In our line, we have the Telluride. It’s been one of the most popular vehicle launches of all time anywhere. They are still you know for us, on order only, and we get them you know four to six months out,” said Capria.

Just three years ago the dealership lot was filled with hundreds of cars to choose from, unfortunately, that’s no longer the case. However, Matthews Kia of Clay is staying optimistic.

“I think manufacturers are on top of it. I think that they’re moving along getting cars into the dealers and doing their job to get these products in front of consumers,” said Capria.

The dealership says now is a good time to trade in and trade up, with used cars still in demand.

“So now has been the best time in the history, of at least my professional history of people taking their trades to the dealers and you know, getting good money for them. Naturally, if there’s fewer used vehicles out there in the marketplace from when we shut down three years ago, then customers can expect to offset the additional costs that the inventory crunch has with their trade-ins. It’s been working out well for all of our customers,” said Capria.

Capria said it’s crucial to make sure you are planning ahead.

“Keep a plan so you don’t get painted into a corner, because the time that a customer comes in here because they need to do something now, that’s when it will be an issue for them,” said Capria.

Fortunately, Capria says the dealership has been able to help people out in that situation.

“But you know, when that comes because somebody didn’t make a plan we’ve seen people come in here that have come from other dealerships that have said, yeah I waited until the last minute and now they don’t have a car for me,” said Capria.

Leading to even a bigger headache than before.

“They either end up with something they don’t want or they’re struggling to figure something out, and they are forced to do something that they don’t want to do,” said Capria.

If you have a leased car or want to buy a new car, Capria encourages people to contact the dealership or your salesperson. He said they will be able to explain the process and what you need to know.

Click here to learn more about Matthews Kia of Clay.