Cars priced at $15,000 in 1981 $26,708.06 in 2022

Cars Inflation Calculator

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Prices for Cars, 1981-2022 ($15,000)

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, prices for new cars are 78.05% higher in 2022 versus 1981 (a $11,708.06 difference in value).

Between 1981 and 2022: Cars experienced an average inflation rate of 1.42% per year. In other words, cars costing $15,000 in the year 1981 would cost $26,708.06 in 2022 for an equivalent purchase. Compared to the overall inflation rate of 2.87% during this same period, inflation for cars was lower.

In the year 1981: Pricing changed by 6.09%, which is significantly above the average yearly change for cars during the 1981-2022 time period. Compared to inflation for all items in 1981 (10.33%), inflation for cars was much lower.

Price Inflation for New cars since 1935

Consumer Price Index, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Years with the largest changes in pricing: 1947 (49.78%), 2022 (9.85%), and 1948 (8.97%).

View price changes for other categories
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Buying power of $15,000.00 since 1981

Below are calculations of equivalent buying power for Cars, over time, for $15,000 beginning in 1981. Each of the amounts below is equivalent in terms of what it could buy at the time:

YearUSD ValueInflation Rate
1981$15,000.006.09%
1982$15,577.213.85%
1983$15,979.652.58%
1984$16,439.942.88%
1985$16,966.693.20%
1986$17,697.744.31%
1987$18,331.563.58%
1988$18,695.851.99%
1989$19,077.372.04%
1990$19,354.281.45%
1991$20,050.873.60%
1992$20,537.002.42%
1993$21,037.912.44%
1994$21,756.653.42%
1995$22,241.552.23%
1996$22,627.991.74%
1997$22,667.380.17%
1998$22,511.08-0.69%
1999$22,327.70-0.81%
2000$22,327.700.00% **
2001$22,226.78-0.45%
2002$21,964.64-1.18%
2003$21,548.65-1.89%
2004$21,429.27-0.55%
2005$21,634.800.96%
2006$21,826.800.89%
2007$21,737.51-0.41%
2008$21,663.22-0.34%
2009$21,868.630.95%
2010$22,094.181.03%
2011$22,755.232.99%
2012$23,067.511.37%
2013$23,186.790.52%
2014$23,114.09-0.31%
2015$23,102.34-0.05%
2016$22,989.49-0.49%
2017$22,824.52-0.72%
2018$22,713.94-0.48%
2019$22,847.090.59%
2020$23,031.880.81%
2021$24,312.215.56%
2022$26,708.069.85%*

* Not final. See inflation summary for latest details.
** Extended periods of 0% inflation usually indicate incomplete underlying data. This can manifest as a sharp increase in inflation later on.


Raw Consumer Price Index data from U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics for New cars:

Year1935193619371938193919401941194219431944194519461947194819491950195119521953195419551956195719581959196019611962196319641965196619671968196919701971197219731974197519761977197819791980198119821983198419851986198719881989199019911992199319941995199619971998199920002001200220032004200520062007200820092010201120122013201420152016201720182019202020212022
CPI20.30020.40020.80021.80021.30021.30023.00023.00023.00023.00023.00023.00034.45037.54040.90041.12043.32046.90047.19246.45444.82346.06248.46950.03152.19251.50851.50051.30850.98550.87749.72348.80849.26250.65451.46953.03155.20854.73154.76257.93162.90066.88570.42375.80881.82388.36993.75497.36299.877102.754106.046110.615114.577116.854119.238120.969125.323128.362131.492135.985139.015141.431141.677140.700139.554139.554138.923137.285134.685133.938135.223136.423135.865135.401136.685138.094142.226144.178144.923144.469144.396143.690142.659141.968142.800143.955151.958166.932

Adjust cars prices for inflation

Start with the inflation rate formula:

CPI in 2022 / CPI in 1981 * 1981 USD value = 2022 USD value

Then plug in historical CPI values from above. The CPI for New cars was 93.754 in the year 1981 and 166.932 in 2022:

166.932 / 93.754 * $15,000 = $26,708.06

Therefore, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, $15,000 in 1981 has the same "purchasing power" as $26,708.06 in 2022 (in the CPI category of New cars).


Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics began tracking the Consumer Price Index for New cars in 1935. In addition to cars, the index produces monthly data on changes in prices paid by urban consumers for a variety of goods and services.

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