There were 17.4 million car sales last year, the most sales since the financial crisis, according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. Alas, also on the rise is a financially questionable way to pay for the big-ticket purchase.
More than seven in 10 new cars purchased with a loan last year had a term of more than 60 months, according to Experian Automotive. While five-year loans have long been the most common, car loans lasting six to seven years have grown from 11 percent of the loan market in 2008 to 29 percent last year. The average car loan is now 67 months long. That’s a far cry from how your grandfather financed his Buick; in the early 1970s, car loans averaged less than 36 months.