LOS ANGELES — As woes in the subprime mortgage market persist, a new survey indicates that Americans shopping for car loans and other forms of credit are beginning to get nervous.

The survey of 1,000 consumers was fielded in late October by market researcher Synovate of Chicago for GDEXAuto (www.gdexauto.com) — a new Web-based marketplace where auto dealers and financial institutions come together to securely package, buy and sell asset-backed debt.

In response to the question — “Given the fallout in the subprime mortgage market, how concerned are you that your ability to obtain credit for something like a car loan will be affected?” — a significant portion of the population expressed fears about possible spillover from the subprime crisis. Fully one-third of the sample (33 percent) said they were “extremely” or “somewhat” concerned their credit may be at risk.

“Our survey highlights a continuing need to offer lending to a number of cash-strapped segments, with emphasis on the family/young adult market,” said Michael Sheridan, founder and president of GDEXAuto. “Next to mortgage lenders and home builders, no one is keeping a closer watch on subprime finance trends than America’s automobile dealers and affected lenders.” In 2006 those financial institutions made more than $50 billion in auto loans to subprime borrowers, according to J.D. Power and Associates.

Among the survey’s key findings:

Youths Feel at Risk. Concern increases with younger respondents; fully 45 percent of 18-24 year-olds are concerned, along with 43 percent in the 25-34 group, compared to only 15 percent in the 65+ age bracket — individuals who are less likely to be seeking credit for a car or other big-ticket item.

Concern Matches Credit Need. By income, the greatest concern (43 percent) lies in within the $25K-$50K segment — people with enough income to have an interest in a car loan, but not so much that they don't need the loan.

Kids Raise the Stakes. Likewise, respondents with children in the household — individuals who are more likely to be in the market for a car loan — expressed greater concern (44 percent) than respondents in households without kids (27 percent).

Credit Impact Already Felt. For some of those in the lowest income bracket, this isn’t a theoretical question; 12 percent say their credit has already been affected.

Genders Share Concerns. Men are marginally more concerned than women — 35 percent to 32 percent — but 6 percent of women say their credit has already been affected, against just 2 percent of men.

Employment Offers Little Relief. Having a job doesn’t significantly diminish these concerns. While 40 percent of the unemployed say they are “extremely” or “somewhat” concerned, 37 percent of those employed full-time share those concerns. Perhaps less surprisingly, 8 percent of the unemployed are already seeing changes in their ability to get credit.

Dixie Worried. The perceived credit squeeze is hitting the South hardest; 40 percent expressed concerns — about 10 percent higher than any other region in the country.

Marked Racial Divide. The racial disparity is even more pronounced — 52 percent of non-Whites expressed concern, versus 30 percent of Whites. Likewise, 9 percent of non-Whites say their credit has already been affected.

The GDEXAuto/Synovate survey has a margin of error of +/- 3 percent. For a full copy of the survey results, email [email protected]