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More Americans are delinquent on car, truck loans

Staff Report • Nov 24, 2008 at 12:00 AM

In yet another bad sign for the auto industry, car loan delinquencies rose again in the third quarter, putting up to $22.9 billion at risk for banks, finance companies and automakers who dole out loans directly to consumers. Melinda Zabritski, director of automotive credit for credit-rating agency Experian's auto group, told USA Today a preliminary study of 30-day delinquencies shows an 8.1% increase over a year earlier. That means $22.9 billion worth of loans are 30 days late. Even more striking is the increase in 60-day delinquency rates. Those loans more often turn into repossessions. They are up 12.7%, putting $7 billion at risk of being unpaid. "This is not insignificant," Zabritski says. Peter Turek, automotive vice president in credit rater TransUnion's financial services group, says delinquency rates have risen all year. "Consumers are continuing to feel pinched in the disposable-income areas," he says, "so we fully expect the delinquency rate will increase through the end of the year." If loan delinquencies keep rising, banks aren't likely to loosen lending standards that continue to depress already dismal car sales. October and September sales fell below a million, in part due to limited loan access. CLICK HERE for the full report.

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