Extra post-storm demand in September and October, especially for less expensive models, inflated used-vehicle prices when they normally would decline seasonally, Smoke said. But that's over.
"Now we're correcting on the used side back to old price-decline trends," he said. "That will continue at least the next three months."
Smoke said storm victims replacing flooded vehicles bought about 500,000 additional units since September, about 150,000 new and 350,000 used.
"That's a half million, right in the middle of the 400,000 to 600,000 losses we originally estimated in September," Smoke said. But used volume came in toward the heavier end of Cox's original projected range of 270,000 to 400,000 while the new total was toward the light side of the initial range of 130,000 to 200,000.
Moody's Analytics estimates U.S. vehicles lost to hurricanes Harvey and Irma at 400,000, with no breakout of new and used replacements.
"Most of those losses were to Harvey, which was highly concentrated in Houston and southeastern Texas," Christian Henkel, a Moody's senior director, said during a Dec. 13 webinar. "With Irma, many people literally drove their vehicles out of danger."
After Harvey struck Texas just before Labor Day, Cox Automotive had expected a two-month replacement surge concentrated in coastal Texas.
"But then Irma two weeks later made it possible that some November lift was possible, though still mostly in Texas and not Florida," Smoke said.
But that anticipated sales lift appears to have been muted because the vast majority of vehicle storm losses were from widespread flooding in Texas during Harvey with limited vehicle write-offs in Florida during Irma, where more damage came from wind.