Experian: On Average, Consumers with Open Auto Account Owe $15,654

IRVINE, Calif. — The average balance of an open auto loan is $15,654, according to a study released this week by Experian Consumer Direct. The company also discovered that 28 percent of the U.S. population, based on 2000 Census results, has at least one auto loan or lease on file.

Company officials went on to report that the national median auto payment came in at $495 a month. In fact, 33 percent of consumers in the nation have a monthly payment of at least $500.

Throughout the nation, at least 12 percent of consumers have at least one late auto payment, which can impact these consumers' credit scores by almost 100 points, Experian pointed out.

"The national average credit score for consumers with no late auto payments is 703, while the average score for consumers with at least one late payment is 605," executives reported.

If a payment is 90 days or more late, the median credit score can decline even lower to 580, according to Experian.

Analyzing average credit scores by state, Experian found that when looking at consumers with at least one late auto payment, Texas came in at the lowest — a median of 592. Consumers in the state who have not been late on a payment have an average credit score of 679, executives revealed.

Moreover, consumers in Texas with an open auto account owe on average $18,316. Experian also discovered that this state also posted the highest average monthly auto payment at $570. At least 43 percent of the Texas population has a vehicle payment of at least $500.

Meanwhile, New Hampshire had the highest average credit score for those with no late auto payments at 728. Consumers in the state with at least one late payment had a median score of 621.

Consumers with an open auto account in New Hampshire owed on average $13,767. Additionally, Experian said the median monthly vehicle payment for the state came in at $442. About 27 percent of the New Hampshire population pays at least $500 a month.

As for California, the median credit score for consumers with no late payments is 701. Consumers in the state who have been late at least once have a median score of 604, executives noted.

On average, Californians with an open auto account owe $17,432. They generally pay $543 a month. About 39 percent of consumers in the state pay at least $500 each month for their vehicles, Experian said.

Furthermore, Indiana residents with no late payments average a credit score of 706; however, if they have at least one late payment, that score drops to 602. Consumers with an open auto account owe a median of $14,036, according to Experian statistics. Their average monthly payment is $463. A total of 28 percent of the state's population pays at least $500 a month for a vehicle.

In Michigan, the average credit score for residents with no late payment is 706. If a consumer has at least one late payment, the score generally decreases to about 604. Consumers in the state owe a median of $11,455 with an open auto account and usually pay an average of $436 a month, executives said. About 27 percent of the population pays at least $500 each month for a vehicle.

As for Oklahoma, consumers with no late payments have an average credit score of 691. If consumers in the state have at least one late payment, the score drops to a median of 602. On average, Oklahoma residents owe $16,380 on an open auto account. Their median monthly payment is $506, according to Experian. About 34 percent of the population pays at least $500 each month on a vehicle.

"An automobile can be one of the larger purchases consumers make over their lifetime, and their credit score is one of the factors lenders use to determine the interest rate and loan terms," explained Ty Taylor, president of Experian Consumer Direct.

Offering advice geared for consumers, he pointed out, "Paying bills on time and spending within your means are cornerstones of effective credit management, which can have a positive impact on a consumer's credit score."

The study was based on Experian data as of March 2007.

Editor's Note: A complete list of Experian's statistics by state will be revealed in the SubPrime Statistics section of the July edition of SubPrime Auto Finance News.

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