Car Down Payments & Monthly Payments Up In Q4

Calculator at car dealership
Photo credit: O P Creative/

How much did you make for a down payment on your last car? If it was $4,500 dollars, you’d be under the current average. Down payments are up in the age of the pandemic, surpassing $4,700 in the fourth quarter of 2020.

Average Down Payments: According to an Edmunds analysis, the average down payment for a new vehicle climbed to $4,734 in Q4. That’s up from $4,458 in the third quarter and $4,329 a year ago. The takeaway here, according to Edmunds, is that consumers who are in the financial position to buy a new car during the COVID-19 pandemic aren’t just buying vehicles, but they are upsizing their purchases and buying vehicles with more amenities.

Average New Vehicle Financing: Average new vehicle financing climbed as well in Q4 2020, to $35,373 in the fourth quarter compared to $34,692 in the third quarter and $33,525 a year ago.

Average Monthly Payments: And you get the drift here, monthly payments increased, too. Edmunds says they averaged $581 in the fourth quarter compared to $568 in Q3 and $570 a year ago.

Edmunds also noted that financed vehicle purchases in December helped drive these figures up compared to the third quarter. According to data, December financed purchases represented the highest average monthly payment of the year at $587 and the highest average down payment of the year at $4,876.

"Consumers historically lean toward purchasing pricey luxury cars, trucks and SUVs during the holiday season, which is partially why we're seeing this lift. But we're also just seeing a broader trend of consumers gravitating toward bigger purchases during the pandemic," said Jessica Caldwell, Edmunds' executive director of insights. "It might seem at odds with unemployment levels and the harsh financial conditions that so many Americans are finding themselves in right now, but the consumers who are buying new cars during the pandemic are clearly on the other side of the economic divide. They're likely qualifying for the lowest promotional rates and feeling secure enough to put down more money to get the bigger vehicles and features that they want."

Used Vehicle Financing: In terms of used car financing -- Edmunds notes some new car market trends continue to trickle down to those purchases as well. While Edmunds data shows that the average used vehicle down payment dipped slightly in Q4 compared to Q3, it still represented a more than 22% increase year-over-year compared to Q4 of 2019. The average amount financed and average monthly payment also saw quarterly and yearly increases.

"We're seeing more consumers who typically would fit the bill as new-car shoppers turning their focus on the used car market thanks to a good supply of near-new, off-lease vehicles hitting the market," said Caldwell.

Check out the Edmunds data provided in a press release below.

Quarterly New-Car Finance Data


Q4 2020Q3 2020Q4 2019
Monthly Payment$581$568$570
Amount Financed$35,373$34,692$33,525
Down Payment$4,734$4,458$4,329

Quarterly Used-Car Finance Data


Q4 2020Q3 2020Q4 2019
Monthly Payment$437$420$415
Amount Financed$24,406$23,235$22,611
Down Payment$3,283$3,308$2,690
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