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Auto Loan Delinquencies Fall for Eighth Consecutive Quarter

November 22, 2011

CHICAGO — The national auto delinquency rate did fall for the eight consecutive quarter on a year-over-year basis, but it did show a modest increase from the second quarter, Transunion reported today.

The delinquency rate dropped from 0.58 percent in the year-ago quarter to 0.47 percent in the third quarter, but it did rise from 0.44 percent in the second quarter. The credit reporting agency said it expected the slight quarterly increase, but it did note that the rate continues to show a moderate deceleration on a year-over-year basis since the third quarter of 2010.  

"Third quarter rates have consistently been greater than second quarter rates since 2000 -- primarily due to seasonal influences," said Peter Turek, automotive vice president in TransUnion's financial services business unit. "The number of new auto loans coming on the books has continued trending upward since the end of the recession. A primary driver of this is relaxed lending policies of creditors. However, on a year-over-year basis, delinquencies have now dropped for eight consecutive quarters, even in the face of increased lending to the subprime market."

Between the second and third quarters of 2011, 15 states experienced decreases in their auto delinquency rates. On a more granular level, 54 percent of metropolitan statistical areas (MSA) realized increases in their delinquency rates last quarter. During the second quarter of 2011, 40 percent of MSAs experienced a rise in auto delinquency rates compared to only 36 percent in the first quarter of this year.

"The good news is that national auto delinquency rates are still at historic lows and should remain so this year as the demand forecast for new and used vehicles indicates continued growth," added Turek. " Barring any substantial changes in the macroeconomic environment, we see auto delinquency rates early next year remaining near current record lows. However, there is some upward pressure building on delinquency rates as long periods of high unemployment and low consumer sentiment take their toll on consumers."

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