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CFPB Reports That Most Car Buyers Do Not Understand Auto Financing

According to a report from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), auto loans are the third biggest category of household debt for Americans, behind mortgages and student loans. Altogether, the country owes nearly a trillion dollars in auto loan debt.

While auto loan debt may be common, it is not commonly understood. The CFPB conducted a comprehensive review of over 2,000 complaints related to vehicle financing, and found that consumers did not generally understand the terms of their auto loan or realize that they could have received a better deal.

The consequences of not understanding your auto loan can be substantial. Most auto loans are lengthy, and run for a term of 48-60 months. While 60 months or five years used to be the standard length of the loan, recently auto dealers and lenders have started extending these terms. During 2015, the CFPB found that at least 28% of new vehicles were being financed over a period of 73 to 84 months.

Despite this, the report stated that only half of consumers report comparison shopping for an auto loan. The CFPB believes that this is because the auto loan process can be complicated, with consumers needing to manage both the financing and other issues like down payments, trade-in value, and other add-ons that make these loans more complex. As a result, many shoppers take the first financing offer that they receive, and never realize that they could have received a lower interest rate or better loan terms had they shopped around.

After completing its review, the CFPB came up with three pieces of advice for would-be auto loan borrowers:

  1. Compare financing options before going to the dealership. Look for loans with the lowest interest rates available, and be sure you can manage the monthly payment.
  2. Check the total cost of the vehicle loan, not just the monthly payment. High interest rates mean that the consumer could end up paying two or three times what the vehicle is worth after interest is factored in over time.
  3. Ask about hidden or additional costs that may affect your loan. You may need to pay for taxes, interest, and fees that will add to your overall cost.

Choosing an auto loan that fits your long-term budget is important for both your credit and your vehicle. Auto loan lenders are notorious for repossessing vehicles soon after the owner misses a payment. If you cannot make your monthly payments over the term of your contract, you may find yourself without a car.

If you are having difficulties with paying your auto loan or other types of debt, contact the attorneys at Loan Lawyers today. Our experienced debt defense team can help you create a plan to manage your debt through refinancing, debt consolidation, or a bankruptcy. To learn more about your best options, schedule a free consultation at Loan Lawyers today by calling (888) FIGHT-13 (344-4813).

  • ABC News
  • American Civil Liberties Union
  • CBS 4
  • CNN
  • Daily Business Review
  • Florida Trend's - Florida Legal Elite 2014
  • Florida Trend's - Florida Legal Elite 2014
  • National Association of Consumer Advocates
  • National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys
  • NBC News
  • National Consumer Law Center
  • The New York Times
  • Avvo
  • Avvo
  • Avvo
  • Avvo
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