'No wiggle room': Why more young Americans are falling behind on car payments

'No wiggle room': Why more young Americans are falling behind on car payments


More young Americans are late to paying their car loans – approaching levels not seen since the Great Recession, according to a report from the New York Fed.

In the last quarter, 4.6% of borrowers under 30 transitioned into serious delinquency – meaning they were at least 90 days overdue on an auto loan payment. This figure is up from a year ago and is the highest percentage since the tail end of the Great Recession in 2009, when it was 4.7%.

Across all ages, the number of new auto loans and leases totaled $162 billion last quarter, down from last year, but an increase from the volume before the pandemic. Of all borrowers, 2.3% were at least 90 days overdue on making their auto loan payment.


The highest rate of serious delinquency was observed among younger Americans. Torsten Slok, the chief economist at Apollo Global Management, told Yahoo Finance that this age group was struggling because they are “more vulnerable” to the ongoing macroeconomic trends. (Apollo is the owner of Yahoo.)

For example, Slok said, the Fed's hike of interest rates is presenting a challenge. Because younger Americans have comparatively little savings, they are less prepared to afford the additional costs incurred by the higher rates. Americans are paying around $50 to $60 more on new car loans this year because of the higher interest rates alone, according to Ivan Drury, the senior manager of insights at Edmunds.

Drury said that the financial outlook for car financing will only worsen if the Fed hikes interest rates again at its June 14 meeting.

The Fed has been increasing interest rates in an effort by the Fed to cool down inflation. That's contributed to new car prices sitting at record highs at the end of last year.’s chief financial analyst Greg McBride said that Americans do not have the cash on hand to afford those rising car costs up front, so their average loan payment is getting higher – and less affordable.

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