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U.S. Auto Loan Interest Rates and Delinquencies Q4 2017

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.

Led by a prolonged period of low interest rates, consumers now have a record $1.2 trillion1 in outstanding auto loan debt. Despite record high levels of issuance, the auto lending market shows signs of tightening. With auto delinquencies on the rise, consumers are facing higher interest rates on both new and used vehicles. In particular, over the last three years, subprime borrowers saw rates rise faster than the market as a whole. MagnifyMoney analyzed trends in auto lending and interest rates to determine what’s really going on under the hood of automotive financing.

Key insights

  • Overall auto delinquency is on the rise, and the first quarter of 2017 saw near-record volume ($8.27 billion) in new severely delinquent auto loans.2
  • Interest rates dipped last quarter, with average new car loan rates down to 5.11%. However, the new rates are still 82 basis points from their lows in late 2013.3
  • The average duration of auto loans (new vehicles) is up to 67.36 months. The longer loans make monthly payments more manageable even as interest rates rise.4
  • The median credit score for an auto loan borrower continues to rise. Currently, the median borrower has a 707 credit score.5
  • More than four out of five (85.1%) new car buyers use financing to buy a car.6
  • Just over half (53.8%) of used car buyers take out a loan to buy a car.7

Facts and figures

  • Average Interest Rate (New Car): 5.11%8
  • Average Interest Rate (Used Car): 8.84%9
  • Average Loan Size New: $29,15410
  • Average Loan Size Used: $17,32111
  • Median Credit Score for Car Loan: 7075
  • % of Auto Loans to Subprime Consumers: 31.1%12

Subprime auto loans

  • Total Subprime Market Value: $243 billion13
  • Average Subprime LTV: 110.5%14
  • Average Interest Rate (New Car): 10.98%15
  • Average Interest Rate (Used Car): 16.27%16
  • Average Loan Size (New Car): $28,60317
  • Average Loan Size (Used Car): $16,55718
  • % Leasing: 23.4%19

Prime auto loans

  • Total Prime Market Value: $747 billion20
  • Average Prime LTV: 96.2%21
  • Average Interest Rate (New Car): 4.03%22
  • Average Interest Rate (Used Car): 5.48%23
  • Average Loan Size (New Car): $32,72724
  • Average Loan Size (Used Car): $21,16225
  • % Leasing: 33.8%26

Auto loan interest rates

Interest rates for auto loans continue to remain near historic lows. Interest rates for used cars is now 8.84% on average. The average interest rate on new cars (including leases) is 5.11%. However, the historically low rates belie a tightening of auto lending, especially for subprime borrowers.

Source: Experian “State of Automotive Finance,” and MagnifyMoney.27

New loan interest rates

Source: Experian “State of Automotive Finance,” and MagnifyMoney.28

Consumer credit information company Experian reports that the average interest rate on all new auto loans was 5.11%, up 82 basis points from the trough five years earlier.29 Compared with the previous year, interest rates are up 37 basis points for new cars. The interest rate increase reflected underlying tightening in the auto loan market for new vehicles.

During the last few years, lenders tilted away from subprime borrowers. In the fourth quarter of 2017, just 9.37% of loans for new vehicles went to subprime borrowers compared with peak subprime lending of 11.48% in the fourth quarter of 2015. The movement away from subprime borrowers led to a smaller increase in new car interest rates.30

Source: Experian “State of Automotive Finance,” and MagnifyMoney.31

Across all credit scoring segments, borrowers taking out loans for new vehicles faced higher average borrowing rates compared with this time last year. Super-prime borrowers took on the largest average rate increase. Rates for this segment rose 54 points to 3.17% on average. Rates for super-prime borrowers are the highest they’ve been since the end of 2011.32

When comparing credit scores to lending rates, we see a slow tightening in the auto lending market since the end of 2013. The trend is especially pronounced among subprime and deep subprime borrowers. These borrowers face auto loan interest rates that are growing faster than the market average. However prime and super-prime rates are slowly starting to tighten as well. Consumers should expect to see the trend toward slightly higher interest rates continue until the economic climate changes.

Source: Experian “State of Automotive Finance,” and MagnifyMoney.33

Even with the tightening, interest rates remain near historic lows for borrowers with fair credit and above. However, the low rates aren’t translating to consumers paying less interest on their vehicle purchases. The estimated cost of interest on new vehicle purchases is now $4,443,34 up 49% from its low in the third quarter of 2013.

Source: Federal Reserve Board of St. Louis, Experian “State of Automotive Finance,” and MagnifyMoney.35

Growth in interest paid over the life of the loan stems from longer loans and higher average loan amounts. The average maturity for a new loan grew from 62.4 months in the third quarter of 2008 to 67.4 months.36 During the same time, average loan amounts for new vehicles grew 17.7% to $29,154.37

Used loan interest rates

Source: Experian “State of Automotive Finance,” and MagnifyMoney.38

Over the past year, interest rates for used vehicles plummeted to their lowest rates ever, but recent movements show that interest rates for used cars may be stabilizing or climbing. Year after year, used car interest rates increased by 34 basis points to 8.84%. The climb in average interest rates came despite the fact that borrowers now have better credit scores than ever before. In the fourth quarter of 2017, almost half of all used-car borrowers (48.5%) had prime or better credit. The year before, 47.8% of used borrowers were prime.39

Source: Experian “State of Automotive Finance.”40

On the whole, borrowers in the used car market face modest increases in interest rates compared with this time last year. The biggest increases came among subprime and nonprime borrowers who saw average rates increase by 57 basis points (.57%) and 52 basis points (.52%) respectively. The rate for subprime borrowers is now 16.27% on average — nonprime borrowers face rates of 10.01%. Interest rate hikes for subprime borrowers are part of a broader trend that started in 2009. Since 2009, interest rates for subprime borrowers are up nearly two full percentage points, and interest rates for deep subprime borrowers are up 3.5 percentage points.

Super prime and prime borrowers were somewhat insulated from the modest rate increases in the used market. Their rates rose by an average of 41 and 39 basis points respectively. Average rates for borrowers with super-prime credit is up to 3.8% — the prime rate to 5.48%.41 Despite the recent increases, interest rates for prime borrowers are still near historic lows.

Source: Experian “State of Automotive Finance” and MagnifyMoney.42

Rising interest rates mean that consumers are putting more money toward interest than they have in the past. The estimated total interest on a used car loan today is $4,202, up $454 from this time five years ago. Rising interest rates are not the only factor driving up interest rate expenses. A more important factor in the total interest cost is the longer average loan terms for used cars (61 months vs. 58 months),43 leading to more interest paid over the life of a car loan.

Source: Federal Reserve Board of St. Louis, Experian “State of Automotive Finance,” and MagnifyMoney.44

Auto loan interest rates and credit score

As of June 2017, the median credit score for all auto loan borrowers was 70745 The median credit score among auto loan borrowers is at its highest point in six years.

Source: Federal Reserve Bank of New York/Equifax Consumer Credit Panel. 46

In the third quarter of 2017, just 31.1% of all auto loans were issued to subprime borrowers compared with an average of 35% over the past three years. Ally Financial, the nation’s largest auto lender, limited subprime lending to just 8.8% of their auto loan portfolio, and Wells Fargo, the nation’s third largest auto lender, announced intentions to limit subprime auto lending to less than 10% of their auto portfolio. With fewer big banks lending to subprime borrowers, consumers may expect to see rising interest rates in that segment.

Source: Federal Reserve Bank of New York/Equifax Consumer Credit Panel, and MagnifyMoney.47

Total auto loan volume decreased dramatically between 2008 and 2010. During that time, subprime and deep subprime lending contracted faster than the rest of the market. Since early 2010, auto lending rebounded to near pre-recession levels, but subprime lending lagged in recovery. In the fourth quarter of 2017, banks issued $42.7 billion to subprime borrowers, well under the average $48.2 billion of subprime auto loans issued each quarter between 2005 and 2007.

Source: Federal Reserve Bank of New York/Equifax Consumer Credit Panel.48

Loan-to-value ratios and auto loan interest rates

One factor that influences auto loan interest rates is the initial loan-to-value (LTV) ratio. A ratio over 100% indicates that the driver owes more on the loan than the value of the vehicle. This happens when a car owner rolls “negative equity” into a new car loan.

Among prime borrowers, the average LTV was 96.18%.* Among subprime borrowers, the average LTV was 110.54%.**49 Both subprime and prime borrowers show improved LTV ratios from the 2007-2008 time frame.

*Average LTV reflects only securitized loans.

**Average LTV reflects only securitized loans.

Source: S&P Global Ratings.50

Research from the Experian market insight group51 showed that loan-to-value ratios well over 100% correlated to higher charge-off rates. As a result, car owners with higher LTV ratios can expect higher interest rates. An automotive finance market report from Experian52 showed that loans for used vehicles with 140% LTV had a 3.03% higher interest rate than loans with a 95%-99% LTV. Loans for new cars charged just a 1.28% premium for high LTV loans.

Auto loan term length and interest rates

On average, auto loans with longer terms result in higher charge-off rates. As a result, financiers charge higher interest rates for longer loans. Despite the higher interest rates, longer loans are becoming increasingly popular in both the new and used auto loan markets.

The average length to maturity for new car loans in the third quarter of 2017 is 67.4 months.53 For used cars, the average is 61.25 months.54 Loans for both new and used cars are now more than six months longer on average than they were in 2009. Based on data from Experian, the increase in average length to maturity is driven primarily by an increasing concentration of borrowers taking out loans requiring 61 to 72 months of maturity.55

In the fourth quarter of 2017, just 6.5% of all new vehicle loans had payoff terms of 48 months or less, and 31% of all loans had payoff periods of more than six years.56 Among used car loans, 16.5% of loans had payoff periods less than 48 months. Even more loans (17.5% of all used vehicle loans), had payoff periods longer than six years.57

Source: Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.58

Auto loan delinquency rates

Despite a trend toward more prime lending, we’ve seen deterioration in the rates and volume of severe delinquency. In the first quarter of 2017, $8.27 billion in auto loans fell into severe delinquency.59 This is near an all-time high.

Source: Federal Reserve Bank of New York and Equifax Consumer Credit Panel.60

Overall, 4.05% of all auto loans are severely delinquent. Delinquent loans have been on the rise since 2014, and the overall rate of delinquent loans is well above the pre-recession average of 2.3%.

Source: Federal Reserve Bank of New York/Equifax Consumer Credit Panel.61

Between 2007 and 2010, auto delinquency rates rose sharply, which led to a dramatic decline in overall auto lending. So far, the slow increase in auto delinquency between 2014 and the present has not been associated with a collapse in auto lending. In fact, the total outstanding balance is up 40% to $1.22 billion since 2014.62

However, the increase in auto delinquency means lenders may continue to tighten lending to subprime borrowers. Borrowers with subprime credit should make an effort to clean up their credit as much as possible before attempting to take out an auto loan. This is the best way to guarantee lower interest rates on auto loans.

Sources

  1. Quarterly Report on Household Debt and Credit February 2018.” Total Debt Balance and Its Composition: Auto Loans, from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and Equifax Consumer Credit Panel. Accessed Feb. 20, 2018.
  2. Quarterly Report on Household Debt and Credit February 2018.” Transition into serious delinquency (90+ days): Auto Loans, from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and Equifax Consumer Credit Panel. Accessed Feb. 20, 2018.
  3. State of the Automotive Finance Market,” New Car Average Rates – Page 26, from Experian. Accessed March 3, 2018.
  4. Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.), Average Maturity of New Car Loans at Finance Companies, Amount of Finance Weighted [DTCTLVENMNM], retrieved from FRED, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis; https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/DTCTLVENMNM, October 2017. Accessed Feb. 21, 2018
  5. Quarterly Report on Household Debt and Credit February 2018.” Credit Score at Origination: Auto Loans, from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and Equifax Consumer Credit Panel. Accessed Feb. 21, 2018.
  6. State of the Automotive Finance Market,” Percentage of Vehicles with Financing – Page 12, from Experian. Accessed March 3, 2018.
  7. State of the Automotive Finance Market,” Percentage of Vehicles with Financing – Page 26, from Experian.™ Accessed March 3, 2018.
  8. State of the Automotive Finance Market,” Avg New Rates – Page 26, from Experian.TM Accessed March 3, 2018.
  9. State of the Automotive Finance Market,” All Used Rates – Page 26, from Experian.TM Accessed March 3, 2018.
  10. “Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (US), Average Amount Financed for New Car Loans at Finance Companies [DTCTLVENANM], retrieved from FRED, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis; https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/DTCTLVENANM, Oct. 2, 2017.
  11. “Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (US), Average Amount Financed for Used Car Loans at Finance Companies [DTCTLVEUANQ], retrieved from FRED, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis; https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/DTCTLVEUANQ, Oct. 2, 2017.
  12. Quarterly Report on Household Debt and Credit February 2018.” Auto Loan Originations by Credit Score, from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and Equifax Consumer Credit Panel. Accessed Feb. 21, 2018.
  13. “Calculated metric: “State of the Automotive Finance Market” Loan Balance Risk Distribution Q4 2017 – Page 5, from Experian,TM and “Quarterly Report on Household Debt and Credit February 2018.” Total Debt Balance and Its Composition: Auto Loans, from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and Equifax Consumer Credit Panel. Accessed March 3, 2018

    (3.77% of All Loans Are Deep Subprime + 16.11% of All Loans Are Subprime) X ($1.221 trillion in Auto Loans)

  14. U.S. Auto Loan ABS Tracker: Full-Year 2017 And December 2017 Performance,” from S&P Global Ratings. Accessed March 3, 2018.
  15. State of the Automotive Finance Market,” New Car Subprime Average Rates, Page 26, from Experian.TM Accessed March 3, 2018
  16. State of the Automotive Finance Market,” Used Car Subprime Average Rates, Page 26, from Experian.TM Accessed March 3, 2018.
  17. State of the Automotive Finance Market,” Average Loan Amounts By Tier, Page 20, from Experian.TM Accessed March 3, 2018.
  18. State of the Automotive Finance Market,” Average Loan Amounts By Tier, Page 20, from Experian.TM Accessed March 3, 2018.
  19. State of the Automotive Finance Market,” % Leasing By Tier, Page 20, from Experian.™ Accessed March 3, 2018.
  20. “Calculated metric: “State of the Automotive Finance Market” Loan Balance Risk Distribution Q4 2017 – Page 5, from Experian,TM and “Quarterly Report on Household Debt and Credit February 2018.” Total Debt Balance and Its Composition: Auto Loans, from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and Equifax Consumer Credit Panel. Accessed March 3, 2018.

    (42% of All Loans Are Prime + 19.17% of All Loans Are Super Prime) X ($1.221 trillion in Auto Loans)

  21. U.S. Auto Loan ABS Tracker: Full-Year 2017 And December 2017 Performance,” from S&P Global Ratings. Accessed March 3, 2018.
  22. State of the Automotive Finance Market,” Average Interest Rate Prime Rating (New Car), Page 26, from Experian.TM Accessed March 3, 2018.
  23. State of the Automotive Finance Market,” Average Interest Rate Prime Rating (Used Car), Page 26, from Experian.TM Accessed March 3, 2018.
  24. State of the Automotive Finance Market,” Average Loan Amounts By Tier, Page 20, from Experian.™ Accessed March 3, 2018.
  25. State of the Automotive Finance Market,” Average Loan Amounts By Tier, Page 20, from Experian.™ Accessed March 3, 2018.
  26. State of the Automotive Finance Market,” % Leasing By Tier, Page 17, from Experian.™ Accessed March 3, 2018.
  27. Graph 1 – Auto Loan Interest Rates, data compiled from historic Experian State of Automotive Finance Reports. Accessed Feb. 21, 2018.
  28. Graph 2 – Average New Vehicle Interest Rates, data compiled from historic Experian State of Automotive Finance Reports. Accessed Feb. 21, 2018.
  29. State of the Automotive Finance Market,” Average Interest Rate Prime Rating (New Car), Page 26, from Experian.TM Accessed March 3, 2018.
  30. State of the Automotive Finance Market,” New Loan Risk Distribution, Page 16, from Experian.™ Accessed March 3, 2018.
  31. Graph 3 – % of New Car Loans Issued to Subprime Borrowers, data compiled from historic Experian State of the Automotive Finance Market reports.
  32. Average Interest Rate by Credit Score, data compiled from historic Experian State of Automotive Finance reports.
  33. Graph 4 – Average Interest Rate by Credit Score (New Car Loans), data compiled from historic Experian State of Automotive Finance reports.
  34. Calculated metric: Total Interest over the Life an Auto Loan (New Car).
    1. Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.), Average Amount Financed for New Car Loans at Finance Companies [DTCTLVENANM], retrieved from FRED, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis;
    2. Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.), Average Maturity of New Car Loans at Finance Companies, Amount of Finance Weighted [DTCTLVENMNM], retrieved from FRED, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis; https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/DTCTLVENMNM, Accessed Feb. 21, 2018.
    3. Average New Car Interest Rate, data compiled from historic Experian State of Automotive Finance reports.

    Calculated Total Interest is Amortized Interest as a function of Average Amount Financed,a Average Interest Rate on New Cars,c and Average Length to Maturity of new car loans.b

  35. Graph 5 – Estimated Interest on New Car Loan.
    1. Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.), Average Amount Financed for New Car Loans at Finance Companies [DTCTLVENANM], retrieved from FRED, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis;
      https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/DTCTLVENANM, Accessed Feb. 21, 2018.
    2. Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (US), Average Maturity of New Car Loans at Finance Companies, Amount of Finance Weighted [DTCTLVENMNM], retrieved from FRED, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis; https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/DTCTLVENMNM, Accessed Feb. 21, 2018.
    3. Average New Car Interest Rate, data compiled from historic Experian State of Automotive Finance reports.

    Calculated Total Interest is Amortized Interest as a function of Average Amount Financed,a Average Interest Rate on New Cars,c and Average Length to Maturity of new car loans.b

  36. “Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.), Average Maturity of New Car Loans at Finance Companies, Amount of Finance Weighted [DTCTLVENMNM], retrieved from FRED, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis;
    https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/DTCTLVENMNM, Accessed Feb. 21, 2018.
  37. Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.), Average Amount Financed for New Car Loans at Finance Companies [DTCTLVENANM], retrieved from FRED, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis; https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/DTCTLVENANM, Accessed Feb. 21, 2018.
  38. Graph 6 – Average Used Vehicle Interest Rates, data compiled from historic Experian State of Automotive Finance reports.
  39. State of the Automotive Finance Market,” Used Car Loan Risk Distribution, Page 16, from Experian.TM Accessed March 3, 2018.
  40. “Graph 7 – Lending By Credit Score Q4 2016 vs. Q4 2017 “State of the Automotive Finance Market,” Used Car Loan Risk Distribution, Page 16, from Experian.TM Accessed March 3, 2018.
  41. State of the Automotive Finance Market,” Average Loan Rates By Credit Tier (Used Cars), Page 26, from Experian.™ Accessed March 3, 2018.
  42. Graph 8 – Average Interest Rate by Credit Score (Used Car Loans), data compiled from historic Experian State of Automotive Finance reports.
  43. Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (US), Average Maturity of Used Car Loans at Finance Companies, Amount of Finance Weighted [DTCTLVEUMNQ], retrieved from FRED, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis; https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/DTCTLVEUMNQ, Feb. 26, 2018
  44. Graph 9 – Calculated metric: Estimated Interest on Used Car Loans.
    1. Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.), Average Amount Financed for Used Car Loans at Finance Companies [DTCTLVEUANQ], retrieved from FRED, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis; https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/DTCTLVEUANQ, Feb. 26, 2018
    2. Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (US), Average Maturity of Used Car Loans at Finance Companies, Amount of Finance Weighted [DTCTLVEUMNQ], retrieved from FRED, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis;
      https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/DTCTLVEUMNQ, Feb. 26, 2018
    3. Average Used Car Interest Rate, data compiled from historic Experian State of Automotive Finance reports.

    Calculated Total Interest is Amortized Interest as a function of Average Amount Financed,a Average Interest Rate on New Cars,c and Average Length to Maturity of new car loans.b

  45. Quarterly Report on Household Debt and Credit February 2018.” Credit Score at Origination: Auto Loans, from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and Equifax Consumer Credit Panel. Accessed Feb. 26, 2018.
  46. Graph 10 – Credit Score at Auto Loan Origination “Quarterly Report on Household Debt and Credit February 2018.” Credit Score at Origination: Auto Loans, from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and Equifax Consumer Credit Panel. Accessed Feb. 26, 2018.
  47. Graph 11 – % of New Loans Issued to Subprime Borrowers. Calculated metric from “Quarterly Report on Household Debt and Credit August 2017.” Auto Loan Originations by Credit Score ((<620+620-659)/Total Lending), from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and Equifax Consumer Credit Panel. Accessed Sept. 7, 2017.
  48. Graph 12 – Auto Loan Origination by Credit Tier “Quarterly Report on Household Debt and Credit August 2017.” Auto Loan Originations by Credit Score, from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and Equifax Consumer Credit Panel. Accessed July 17, 2017.
  49. U.S. Auto Loan ABS Tracker: Full-Year 2017 And December 2017 Performance,” from S&P Global Ratings. Accessed Feb. 26, 2018.
  50. Graph 13 – Average LTV at Auto Loan Origination “U.S. Auto Loan ABS Tracker: Full-Year 2017 And December 2017 Performance,” from S&P Global Ratings. Accessed Feb. 26, 2018.
  51. Understanding automotive loan charge-off patterns can help mitigate lender risk,” from Experian.TM Accessed Feb. 26, 2018.
  52. State of the Automotive Finance Market Q4 2010,” Pages 25-26, from Experian.TM
  53. Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.), Average Maturity of New Car Loans at Finance Companies, Amount of Finance Weighted [DTCTLVENMNM], retrieved from FRED, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis;
    https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/DTCTLVENMNM, February 26, 2018.
  54. “Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (US), Average Maturity of Used Car Loans at Finance Companies, Amount of Finance Weighted [DTCTLVEUMNQ], retrieved from FRED, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis;
    https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/DTCTLVEUMNQ, February 26, 2018.
  55. State of the Automotive Finance Market,” Percentage of new loans by Term, Page 23, from Experian.™Accessed February 26, 2018.
  56. Calculated metric: “State of the Automotive Finance Market,” Percentage of new loans by Term, Page 22, from Experian.™ Accessed March 3, 2018.
  57. “Calculated metric: “State of the Automotive Finance Market,” Percentage of new loans by Term, Page 22, from Experian.TM Accessed March 3, 2018.
  58. Graph 14 – Average Auto Loan Length to Maturity (Months).
    1. Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (US), Average Maturity of New Car Loans at Finance Companies, Amount of Finance Weighted [DTCTLVENMNM], retrieved from FRED, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis;
      https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/DTCTLVENMNM, Accessed February 26, 2018.
    2. Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (US), Average Maturity of Used Car Loans at Finance Companies, Amount of Finance Weighted [DTCTLVEUMNQ], retrieved from FRED, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis;
      https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/DTCTLVEUMNQ, Accessed February 26, 2018.
  59. Graph 15 – New Severely Delinquent Auto Loans (90+ Days) “Quarterly Report on Household Debt and Credit August 2017.” Transition into serious delinquency (90+ days): Auto Loans, from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and Equifax Consumer Credit Panel. Accessed September 7, 2017.
  60. Quarterly Report on Household Debt and Credit February 2018.” Total Debt Balance and Its Composition: Auto Loans, from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and Equifax Consumer Credit Panel. Accessed February 26, 2018. (Q1 2014 compared to Q4 2017.)
  61. Graph 16 – % of All Loans Severely Delinquent “Quarterly Report on Household Debt and Credit February 2018.” % of Balance 90+ Days Delinquent: Auto Loans, from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and Equifax Consumer Credit Panel. Accessed February 26, 2018.
  62. Quarterly Report on Household Debt and Credit February 2018.” Total Debt Balance and Its Composition: Auto Loans, from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and Equifax Consumer Credit Panel. Accessed February 26, 2018.

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Hannah Rounds
Hannah Rounds |

Hannah Rounds is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Hannah here

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Auto Loan

How to Get Out From Under a Bad Car Loan

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.

iStock

We all make mistakes. Maybe you’re struggling to pay your bills, especially your car loan, and are looking for a way to get out from under that burden. Or perhaps you’re doing better financially than when you purchased your car and it’s time to refinance into a better loan. No matter how you got into a bad car loan or why you want out of it, you always have options.Understanding those options is the first step to improving your financial situation. Here’s what you should know:

How do I know if I have a bad car loan?

If you have a bad car loan, you probably know it. A bad car loan is one that you can’t afford, or that costs you too much money in interest expense every month. If you are struggling to make car payments or are falling behind on your loan, you’re likely in a bad car loan.

What’s important to realize is that circumstances change. You could have taken out a loan on a new pickup truck while you had a good job and could easily make the payments. When you’re unemployed, however, the truck payments become a huge burden. You may even fall behind.

Another possibility is that you could buy a car when you have a thin or damaged credit history, at a high interest rate. A year or two later, when you have a decent credit score, you could do a lot better. A good car loan when you bought the car is a bad car loan now.

If you think you’re in a bad car loan or one that no longer fits your needs, it’s time to start finding ways out of that loan.

What’s a good interest rate for a car loan?

The interest rate level you should consider to be “bad” depends on your situation, primarily your credit score. “The interest rate you pay should not be higher than what you would pay on a credit card,” said Bruce McClary, vice president of public relations and communications at the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) in Washington, DC. “Check your credit score and see where you are. Could you qualify for a lower interest rate loan? If you have a credit score in the 700s or 800s, you’ll get a good loan. If it’s in the 500s or 600s, you’ll probably still have to pay a higher interest rate.”

Generally speaking, the higher the interest rate, the more important it is to try to find another solution. “I would say any auto loan that carries an interest rate in the 20% range is something you would want to get out of quickly,” said McClary. “In the teens, in the high end, you should consider refinancing.”

6 ways to get out of a bad car loan

Before you decide how you should get out of a bad car loan, you should decide exactly what you hope to accomplish by doing so. Are you trying to get a lower interest rate, keep your car or not have car payments at all? If you don’t set clear goals, you could get out of one bad loan only to make your financial situation worse.

Once you know what you want to achieve, you can decide which of these options is best for you:

1. Refinance a car loan

If your only car problem is that you took out a loan with a too-high interest rate, either because your credit score was lower or because you didn’t shop around as well as you could have, you should probably refinance your car. In fact, if you have a car loan, it pays to occasionally check that you are still getting the best deal possible on your car loan.

Refinancing with a new lender can help your credit history if you have missed payments on your car loan. “You can get creative, refinancing the amount you owe and flipping it into a new loan,” said McClary. “Then, you’re starting with an account that is healthy.” Bear in mind that if you have missed payments, your current lender has probably already reported negative information to the credit bureaus. That information will stay on your credit history for up to seven years, even after you close the account.

You could also refinance your car loan if you want to change the length of the loan. For example, say you originally took out a 3-year loan, but the payments are too high. You might refinance with a 4- or 5-year loan, instead.

Refinancing a car is almost always a better financial decision than getting a new car to get out of a loan. You generally pay a few fees to refinance, but you avoid paying sales tax on a new car, and you avoid the temptation to buy a more expensive car, just to get out of a bad loan.

Be sure to shop around for a car loan refinance. You can start your search at your local bank or credit union, or online at MagnifyMoney. Fill out an online form, and receive potential refinance auto loan offers from lenders at once, depending on your creditworthiness. Use the auto loan calculator to see how much a car loan should cost, and how much you can afford.

2. Renegotiate a car loan

If you just need help getting back on track, or need to make your payments more affordable, you can talk to your current lender. They may offer temporary hardship forbearance in certain circumstances, which means they can allow you a little more time to catch up.

Another way they may help is by extending the terms of your loan so your payments are lower. Be aware that the longer the term, the more total interest you will pay before your loan is paid off.

3. Pay off a car loan

If you want to keep your car, look for a way to pay off or pay down your car loan. You may have savings you could use, if you can do so without jeopardizing your emergency fund and other goals.

Avoid taking money out of your retirement account. For one thing, you could owe a hefty penalty and taxes to the Internal Revenue Service. For another, retirement funds are for retirement.

You could also sell investments or other vehicles to pay off your loan, or work extra hours. Even if all you can do is make extra payments on your principal every month, you will pay off your car loan more quickly, and save a significant amount of interest expense.

If you don’t want to keep your car; for example, if your household has two cars and can get along with one, you can sell your car to pay off the loan. You’ll get the best price if you sell your car yourself. Be aware that you need to gain enough from the sale to pay off the loan, or come up with the difference yourself.

4. Trade in a car to get rid of a bad loan

If you need a new car anyway, you could trade in your old car as a down payment on a new one. The advantage of getting out of your car loan and car ownership, this way is that it’s easy. The dealership is motivated to sell you another car, so they’re almost certain to take your old car. They may even take it if you’re underwater on your current loan — if you owe more than it’s worth — and roll the excess amount you owe into your new loan.

Trading in your car can be a good idea if you are hesitant to try and sell your car yourself, and you need a more reliable or different car.

It is not a good idea for people who might use a bad car loan as an excuse to trade up to a more expensive car that strains their budget and prevents them from ever paying off a car or reaching other financial goals.

If you trade in your car, make sure you get the best loan you can get. Check your credit score before you go car shopping, and make any improvements to your score before you shop for a loan. Don’t just take financing at the dealership without comparison shopping the loans first.

5. Surrender the car to the lender

If you’re in financial trouble and you can’t keep up your car payments, one option is to give up your car. You can drive your car to the lender, or wait for them to come and get it.

Either of these options should only be a last resort. “You can turn in the car,” said McClary. “They’re holding it as collateral. You can give them the keys and say, ‘Here. I can no longer afford it.’”

The problem with turning in your car is that it is a “voluntary repossession.” If you owe more on the car than the car is worth and you can’t pay the excess amount (which is likely if you can’t afford your payments), it may harm your credit history and score. You should also be prepared to keep making your car payments until they sell the car, if possible. “You need to talk to someone immediately about clearing it,” said McClary. “Your credit won’t get any better unless you continue to make payments until they sell the car.”

Whether you turn in your car voluntarily, or you miss payments and they tow it out of your driveway, the repossession will be reported on your credit report.

The lender can sue you for the deficiency, or the difference between the amount you owe and the amount the car is worth, less the expenses of selling the car. So it’s possible you can lose or turn in your car, and still have car payments. And now your credit report is damaged, so any car loan you get will likely carry a high interest rate.

6. File for bankruptcy

If your finances have reached a point where you cannot pay your bills and you don’t see any other way out of debt, you may need to consider bankruptcy. Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy can actually help you keep your car, which can be important if you need it to get to work and earn a living.

Filing for bankruptcy doesn’t get you out of a car loan, however. You must continue payments on your car loan to keep your car in bankruptcy. However, filing for bankruptcy can give you relief from collection efforts by other creditors, making it easier for you to keep up with your car payments.

If you are considering bankruptcy and you want to keep your car and car loan, you must indicate to the court that you want to “reaffirm” the debt. By reaffirming, you promise to pay your car loan as if you had not filed for bankruptcy, in exchange for keeping the car. You must show that you can afford to make the payments and that the vehicle is necessary. Your ability to keep your car may depend on your equity in it, and your state law. If you reaffirm the debt, but fail to make the payments, you can still lose the car.

Alternatively, you can surrender your car in bankruptcy. In a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, this wipes out your debt. You may be able to keep your car until the bankruptcy is finalized.

Remember your long-term goals when getting out from under a bad car loan

It’s easy to think about short-term fixes to financial problems. And getting through this month and the next is important. Try to choose a path that lowers your interest expense and total debt, if possible. Avoid decisions that can harm your credit history. Your long-term financial health depends on taking a longer-term view as you decide on the best way to get out of your bad car loan.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

Sally Herigstad
Sally Herigstad |

Sally Herigstad is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Sally here

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Auto Loan

How Much Does a Tesla Cost?

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.

Tesla Roadster
Tesla

Teslas are the newest, spiffiest electric vehicles on the block. The first models were priced as luxury vehicles, but Elon Musk promised to make an EV affordable for most Americans by rolling out the Model 3 at an advertised price below $35,000. There is more to the price, however, as we’ll explain.

Musk’s fancier models will cost you a pretty penny — up to $250,000 — along with Tesla’s upgrades. Availability and price depend on the model and the trim you choose. For the whole picture, keep reading.

How much does each new Tesla model cost?

In order of price, Tesla offers five consumer car models: 3, S, X, Y and the upcoming second-generation Roadster, which you can reserve now. It speaks to company founder Elon Musk’s sense of humor that if you put the first models in the order they were produced you get “S3XY.”

*It’s important to note that the advertised prices don’t include a $1,200 destination and document fee, and they do include a $1,875 federal tax incentive and an estimated savings in gas over six years. Neither price includes taxes or registration fees.

What about the tax credit?

Time ran out on the full $7,500 federal tax credit that was available to the first 200,000 new Tesla owners. Customers who have their Teslas delivered from July 1 to Dec, 31, 2019 get a fourth of the tax credit amount, $1,875.  In 2020, there is no scheduled tax credit.

The good news? There are state tax credits you may be able to use for your new Tesla. The following states and Washington D.C. offer incentives like tax credits, tax exemptions and reduced rates for EV charging: Arizona, California, Connecticut, Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania.

How much does a Model 3 cost?

The Model 3 is Tesla’s least expensive car. You may be able to drive away in one for a minimum of $41,100. If that amount surprises you, then you know the Model 3 is often highlighted as costing less than $35,000. So why the discrepancy?

The quoted $33,725 price tag is after estimated savings, including the $1,875 tax credit and the fuel savings you would have over six years if you owned a gasoline-powered car. Add those back in and you get to the sticker price of $39,900. Then, tack on Tesla’s standard $1,200 delivery and document fee to get a price of $41,100, not including tax and registration fees.

How much does a Model S cost?

The sticker price for the Standard Range AWD of a Model S is $75,000. For a greater driving range by about 76 miles, the Long Range AWD trim comes in at a $85,000 sticker price. And for a greater performance, the Performance AWD goes from zero to 60 in 2.5 seconds, a 64% faster acceleration for $11,000 more than the Long Range AWD.

How much does a Model X cost?

While models 3 and S are sedans, the Model X is an SUV crossover with optional third-row seating. The lowest trim, the Standard Range AWD, has an $81,000 sticker price. The next trim up, the Long Range AWD has a sticker price of $91,000 and will get you 58 miles more in driving range. The top trim Performance AWD for $102,000 will get you from zero to 60 mph in 2.9 seconds, instead of 4.7 seconds that the Long Range AWD achieves.

How much does a Model Y cost?

A smaller crossover than Model X, Model Y doesn’t have a Standard Range option. Its least expensive trim is the Long Range at a price of $48,000. The Long Range AWD is $52,000 and the Performance AWD is $61,000.

How much does a Tesla Roadster cost?

The most expensive Tesla model is the second-generation Roadster. A Founders Series Roadster is $250,000; although you could get a base Roadster for $200,000. Given the $50,000 price difference between the Founders Series Roadster and the base Roadster, which is enough to buy a whole other Tesla, the Founders Series Roadster has got to offer something special — and it does. You can go from zero to 60 in 1.9 seconds and from zero to 100 in 4.2 seconds, which is pretty dang quick acceleration.

Can you negotiate?

Most car brands let you negotiate on prices. We even wrote about how to negotiate a car price. With Tesla, however, there is no price negotiation. James Wolf, a senior engineer at LendingTree, the parent company of MagnifyMoney, bought his Model 3 in October 2018. He explained, “There is no negotiation when it comes to the price, only your options [can] adjust the price.”

There are no back-and-forth, tit for tat price negotiations on a new Tesla. The price is the price, take it or leave it. The only negotiation on a new Tesla is the one you may have with yourself and your budget: there are plenty of drool-worthy option upgrades, the cheapest of which adds a cool $1,000 to the price tag. More on that later.

Tesla fees and options

As with any car purchase, there will be unavoidable fees and some enticing options you could add to the vehicle. Both will increase the final price.

Can you avoid the destination and document fees?
No. Of the $1,200 fee, $1,000 is the delivery fee, which is charged in the U.S. and Canada regardless of delivery method or location, even if you pick it up hot from the factory floor. Why? It’s government-mandated. The delivery fee, also known as the destination charge, has to be separate from the MSRP and clearly disclosed. The remaining $200 is the document fee.

How much do options cost?
The least expensive upgrade is getting a black and white interior in a Model 3, rather than the all black. The most expensive is adding autopilot after you buy the car for $7,000, instead of ordering it for $5,000 when you get the car new.

**For Models S and X the interior options of Black and White, and Cream are available for purchase on the two lower trims only. The Black and White option is available for no up-charge on the top trim, but the Cream is not available on the top trim.

How much is tax?

Property tax. Vehicle property tax depends on your state and your county or city of residence. It varies pretty wildly, so check your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles website for more information.

Sales tax. If you’re lucky enough to live in state without sales tax (Alaska, Delaware, Montana, Oregon, New Hampshire), you may not have to pay taxes on the car’s purchase.

For the rest of the country, state sales tax applies. You may also have local sales taxes to contend with. The highest average combined state and local sales tax rate is in Tennessee at 9.46% as of July 2018. The lowest is Alaska at 1.43%. And the average in California is 8.55%.

Is tax included in the final amount I pay for the Tesla? If you live in a state where Tesla has a sales license, the applicable taxes you’ll have to pay will be included in your total. If you live in a state where Tesla does not have a sales license, taxes will not be included in the total, but you will have to pay them when you register the car in your state.

Do I have to pay California sales tax? If you pick the car up in California and you live in a different state where Tesla does not have a sales license, Tesla, by law, has to charge California sales tax. For further information on this, see a tax professional or talk to a Tesla representative.

Where does Tesla have a sales license? Tesla has a sales license to directly sell vehicles in about half of U.S. states. Different states have different automotive sales laws. You could see a thread on the Tesla Motors Club website with a map on Tesla sales licensure.

Financing a Tesla

If you’re not paying cash, you may be able to get a loan through Tesla or another lender. It does not hurt your credit to apply to multiple lenders any more than it does to apply to one lender, as long as you do so within a 14-day window. It’s always good idea to shop around for a car loan just as you would for the car itself — only talking to one lender is one of the common mistakes people make when they need an auto loan.

Tesla financing and leasing. Once you create a Tesla account, which you may do here, you can submit a credit application online and hear back from Tesla within 48 hours. Tesla financing is only available in these states: California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia and Washington.

Financing with your own lender. If you have your own lender, you’ll need to provide the name of the lender, the exact dollar amount of the loan and the lender’s address and phone number to Tesla. In turn, the lender will want the VIN, which you can find in your Tesla account.

How much does a used Tesla cost?

Despite it being a relatively new car company, there are used Teslas available for sale. Some models are almost 10 years old, as the first generation Roadster came out in 2008. It’s these older models that are the least expensive Teslas you’ll find, priced in the upper $30,000 range. Tesla itself offers used models that passed a rigorous inspection and come with a warranty. You can also find used Teslas for sale off third-party car buying sites, such as AutoTempest and CarGurus.

Because they are used, you won’t have to pay the $1,000 destination fee, which only applies to new cars; unless, of course, you’re getting the car shipped to you specially. If you buy the car from a dealership rather than a private person, you will still face all of the typical dealer fees. And no matter how you buy the car, you’ll need to pay the appropriate taxes.

The bottom line

The least expensive new Tesla will cost you $41,100 before taxes and before any available tax credits. You can’t negotiate on the price of a Tesla, but you can pick and choose options that suit you. If you’d like to see what else is out there without leaving your couch, you could look at the best online car buying sites for 2018.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

Jenn Jones
Jenn Jones |

Jenn Jones is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Jenn at [email protected]