Average Car Loan Amount Hits 8-Year High

The average amount financed to buy a vehicle is the highest it has been in eight years, according Experian Automotive, which released third-quarter data late last week.

The average used-vehicle loan term and monthly payment also hit eight-year highs in the quarter.The average new vehicle amount financed was $27,799 in the third quarter, up 4 percent from a year ago. The average used-vehicle amount financed was $18,876, also up about 4 percent.

The previous highs were $27,612 for new vehicles, in the first quarter of 2014, and $18,258 for used vehicles, in the second quarter of 2014.

Average monthly payments also rose in the third quarter despite consumers’ continued willingness to turn to leasing and longer loan lengths to keep payments down, according to Melinda Zabritski, Experian’s senior director of automotive finance.

The average monthly new vehicle payment was $470 in the third quarter, up about 3 percent from a year ago, but not a high. That was set in the first quarter of 2014, at $474, the highest point since Experian started publishing its data in 2006.

The used car average payment in the third quarter reached a new high, though, at $358, up about 2 percent from the third quarter of 2013. The previous high was $355, set in the second quarter this year.

The average used vehicle loan term also reached a high in the third quarter, at 62 months. The average was 61 months in the first and second quarters this year as well as in the third quarter of 2013.

The average term for new vehicle loans in the third quarter was 66 months, the level it has been since the first quarter this year, when it was marked as a high.

Lease penetration rose in the third quarter to 24.7 percent of all new-vehicle volume, up from 23.1 percent a year ago, Experian said.

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