A struggling economy and stricter lending criteria have pushed more consumers toward used vehicle loans, according to a quarterly analysis of the automotive credit market released by Experian Automotive. Used vehicle loans accounted for more than 68 percent of all automotive loans in the first quarter of 2009, up from just over 64 percent of all automotive loans in the first quarter of 2008. Share of loans for new vehicles fell to under 32 percent in the first quarter of 2009, compared with nearly 36 percent in the first quarter of 2008. "Banks, credit unions and captive finance companies appear to have tightened their lending criteria as they look to mitigate risk," said Melinda Zabritski, director of automotive credit for Experian Automotive. "Loans are still available, but lenders are changing terms. This is pushing some consumers out of the new vehicle market and into the used vehicle market.
Some finance companies that specialize in sub-prime loans have seen their share increase as traditional lenders move away from riskier loans." Independent used vehicle dealers, those dealers not affiliated with a specific manufacturer, were the biggest winners in the first quarter, seeing their share of used vehicle loans rise more than 31 percent in the first quarter of 2008 just under 35 percent in the first quarter of 2009. Independent dealers typically serve customers with lower credit scores and are gaining share as traditional lenders tighten their loan criteria. Find out how much car you can afford with our Auto Loan Calculator, then visit your local credit union for an auto loan.