The national auto loan delinquency rate — the rate of borrowers 60 or more days past due — reached its lowest level since TransUnion began tracking the data in 1999. Auto loan delinquency rates in 1Q12 dropped to 0.36%, down from 0.49% in 1Q11 and down from 0.46% in 4Q11.
"Auto loan delinquencies continue to perform exceptionally," said Peter Turek, automotive vice president in TransUnion's financial services business unit. "This can be attributed primarily to growing demand for both new and used vehicles and higher used-vehicle values, which equates to an increase in equity for consumers. We are seeing increases in both lending and leasing across the board, along with a higher number of loans originated in the nonprime risk segments."
Between 4Q11 and 1Q12, 43 states experienced declines in their auto delinquency rates. On a more granular level, only 34% of metropolitan areas saw increases in their auto delinquency rates in 1Q12. This is down from the prior period where 44% of the MSAs experienced increases.
TransUnion's forecast is based on various economic assumptions, such as unemployment rates, consumer sentiment, disposable income, and interest rates. The forecast changes as the economy deviates from a conservative economic forecast or if there are unanticipated shocks to the economy affecting recovery.
"We anticipate national auto loan delinquency rates to remain relatively low for the remainder of the year, rising and decreasing with traditional seasonal patterns," Turek said. "However, a slight increase from this record-low level would not be surprising and should not be construed as a negative event, as lenders continue to originate more loans to consumers across all credit risk levels."