Car loans rise, late payments flat

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American consumers’ balances on their car loans has risen over the last year, while the number of people making late payments has remained flat, according to the latest data from TransUnion.

Auto loan balances have jumped more than 4 percent between the second quarter of 2012 and the same period in 2013, with the current loan balance averaging $13,435. The increase signifies a trend of lenders nationwide approving higher loan amounts, with every state in the U.S. except Michigan seeing an increase in the average car loan balance during this time frame.

Additionally, borrowers with lower credit scores, so-called subprime borrowers, have seen their average debt on their car loans increase more than 7 percent in the last year, says TransUnion. That’s an indication that lenders are further loosening the car loan requirements for those with less-than-stellar credit scores.

Car loan delinquencies, defined by TransUnion as accounts that are 60 -days or more past due, remained essentially flat since last year, moving from 0.79 percent in the second quarter of 2012 to 0.8 percent in the second quarter of 2013. Delinquency rates for subprime consumers also remained at similar levels — 5.02 percent in the second quarter of this year compared to 4.94 percent for the same period last year.

Are you keeping up with your car loan payments?

Tara Baukus Mello writes the cars blog as well as the weekly Driving for Dollars column, providing both practical financial advice for consumers as well as insight into the latest developments in the automotive world. Follow her on Facebook here or on Twitter @SheDrives.