Keeps going up
Photo: Justin Sullivan (Getty)

Americans continue to spend increasing amounts on a car, according to the latest report from the credit bureau Experian, which found the average monthly payment for a used vehicle has reached $378. Better than the average of about $523 for new cars, but still a decent amount.

Experian issues a report on auto lending trends every quarter, and its recent findings have shown that we’re paying more for a car and assuming a larger amount of debt to make it happen. We have $1.2 trillion of outstanding auto loan debt (a record), spend $31,000 for a new car and nearly $20,000 for a used car.

“Taking an even closer look at the data, lenders can gain insights from the gap between new and used financing payments, which continues to widen, reaching $147 in the second quarter,” Experian said in a press release. “For some consumers, that gap can mean the difference between buying a new or used vehicle.”

One bright spot here is that consumers are apparently turning to credit unions to obtain financing more and more, instead of going through a dealer, which can present issues you wouldn’t find at the local bank. Those include more competitive interest rates and often less predatory practices overall. 

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From the report:

Credit unions saw double-digit growth for new vehicle financing (12.9 percent) and strong growth overall (4.9 percent), closing in on 21.3 percent of the market at the end of Q2. The only other lender type to experience growth was captive finance companies, which grew 1.2 percent during the same time period.

The used car price represents a sizable jump from a year ago, increasing by $13 per month from a year ago, and $22 from 2014. With interest rates rising, I wouldn’t be surprised if the trend keeps on.