Report: Average Payments for New, Used Cars Rise

CARS.COM — A new report from Experian Automotive says monthly payments on used-car loans in the second quarter averaged $364. That's up $3 or 0.8 percent versus the year-ago quarter, an increase commensurate with the current inflation rate. But monthly payments on new-car loans increased at about four times that rate. They're up 3.3 percent to $499 from $483 in the year-ago quarter.

Related: Auto Loan Basics for First-Time Buyers

It's little wonder that leasing, a way to keep car payments down if you exercise discipline, jumped to 31.4 percent of new-car sales, according to Experian. A year ago, it accounted for just 26.9 percent of new-car sales.

Of course, monthly payments are just one aspect of vehicle-ownership costs. Experian's second-quarter "State of the Automotive Finance Market" report said the average new-car loan was 68 months, up one month versus a year ago. The average new-car loan amount, meanwhile, was $29,880. That's up $1,356 or 4.8 percent from the year-ago amount. And the average interest rate was 4.82 percent, about even with the year-ago period.

Unsurprisingly, shoppers with lower credit tend to have longer loans. The average credit score for a new-car loan from 73 to 84 months was 679 in the second quarter. (Experian's credit scores range from 300 to 850.) That's nearly 100 points lower than the average credit score (770) for a new-car loan that's 37 to 48 months, Experian found.

Some more takeaways from the report:

  • Used-car loans accounted for 55.6 percent of all car loans in the second quarter, with the average loan amount at a record-high $19,101. A year ago, the average used-car loan was $18,671.
  • Experian says consumers with good credit drove the price increase. Some 60 percent of prime and 43 percent of super-prime car shoppers — those in the two highest credit tiers — bought a used car in the second quarter. The figures are up 6.6 percent and 10 percent, respectively, from the year-ago quarter. That helped push the average credit score for a used-car loan to 648 (from 645) and the average interest rate to 8.97 percent (from 9.13 percent).
  • The average credit score for a new-car loan was 708, essentially flat from a year ago. In the second quarter, 86.5 percent of new-car sales were financed, up from 85.8 percent a year ago.
  • New-car lessees averaged a credit score of 716, unchanged from a year ago. Lease payments averaged $404, up $10 or 2.5 percent from a year ago ($394).

An Experian spokeswoman did not respond to our requests for comment.

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