Auto Loan Interest Rates Climb to Second-Highest Level in 10 Years, According to Edmunds

Tightening credit conditions and rising vehicle prices continued to squeeze consumers in January, according to the car shopping experts at Edmunds.

Due in part to an evaporation of zero percent financing deals, the average annual percentage rate (APR) on new financed vehicles hit the second highest point in 10 years in January, averaging 6.19 percent.

This compares to 4.99 percent last January and 4.22 percent five years ago.

Additionally, the average transaction price of a new vehicle is expected to hit a near-record high of $37,150 in January, and zero percent financing offers dropped to their lowest level since 2006.

“Car shoppers who are returning to the market for the first time in a few years could be in for a big shock,” said Jessica Caldwell, Edmunds’ executive director of industry analysis. “Vehicle prices and interest rates are so high right now that consumers are facing the very real possibility of spending thousands of dollars more on a new vehicle than they did last time they purchased a new car.”

Although Edmunds experts note that sales in January showed relative strength and the overall impact of the polar vortex across the Midwest was minimal, analysts caution that sales are likely to take a turn through the rest of 2019.

“Although January saw a slight lift, higher fleet sales give the false appearance of a more robust sales month,” said Caldwell. “If the economy starts to slip for any reason, we could see significant repercussions for the overall market.” 

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