Sara Routhier, Managing Editor and Outreach Director, has professional experience as an educator, SEO specialist, and content marketer. She has over five years of experience in the insurance industry. As a researcher, data nerd, writer, and editor she strives to curate educational, enlightening articles that provide you with the must-know facts and best-kept secrets within the overwhelming world o...

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Joel Ohman is the CEO of a private equity-backed digital media company. He is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, author, angel investor, and serial entrepreneur who loves creating new things, whether books or businesses. He has also previously served as the founder and resident CFP® of a national insurance agency, Real Time Health Quotes. He also has an MBA from the University of South Florida. ...

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Reviewed by Joel Ohman
Founder, CFP®

UPDATED: Feb 9, 2021

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Experian’s early March press release has found that the average auto loan terms for new car financing in Q4 of 2012 rose to a record high of 65 months. This is an increase from Q4 of 2011 when they stood at 63 months. Meanwhile, used vehicle financing terms stayed stable at a 60 month level.

The average auto loan amount for a new automobile increased in Q4 2012 to $26,691. This is a $272 increase from Q4 2011. The average used vehicle auto loan amount increased in Q4 2012 to $17,629. This is a $239 increase from Q4 2011.

Melinda Zabritski, Director of Automotive Credit for Experian Automotive, attributes this healthy increase to the ongoing trend of low car loan rates.

“Consumers were able to finance more in Q4 2012 because of low rates,” she told

“Lower interest rates and longer loan terms made it easier for consumers to finance a vehicle while keeping their payments affordable,” Zabritski continued in the press release. “This, combined with the fact that more vehicle loans went to consumers with credit outside of prime, portends a vital and healthy automotive market.”

Experian said that the average interest rate for a new auto loan in Q4 2012 fell to 4.36 percent from a Q4 2011 high of 4.52 percent. Meanwhile, the average interest rate for a used auto loan fell to 8.48 percent from a Q4 2011 high of 8.67 percent.

To explain why the average auto loan amount for new vehicles increased, Zabritski pointed to multiple factors. She felt that consumers purchasing more expensive vehicles in addition to lenders’ lower down payment requirements were equally responsible for this upward trend.

Due to the increase in car loan durations, the average monthly payment for a new vehicle fell in Q4 2012 to $460 from Q4 2011 when it was $468.

While lower monthly payments are attractive to buyers, Zabritski warns that they can result in a higher overall cost for financing.

Credit score requirements for both new and used vehicles fell in Q4 2012. The average consumer credit score for new auto loan borrowers was 755 in Q4 2012 compared to 761 in Q4 2011. The average consumer credit score for used auto loan borrowers was 665 in Q4 2012 compared to 670 in Q4 2011.