New car loans are easier to get now than cars

Finding a car may be more difficult than in recent memory, but buyers who line up a new vehicle are more likely to qualify for a loan.

Cox Automotive found that accessing loans in September was 5.5% easier than in the same period a year earlier. In general, access to credit for banks, credit unions and captive auto manufacturer financial services has almost returned to pre-pandemic levels.

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However, only automakers have eased loans to the level where consumers are just as likely to qualify in October 2021 as they were in February 2020 before the pandemic gripped the global economy.

That doesn’t mean car dealerships are flush with vehicles, however. Inventory levels remain at historically low levels with little change in sight as automakers struggle to source the parts needed to assemble new vehicles. Supply chain bottlenecks, compounded by the global shortage of labor and computer chips, make new cars difficult to locate.

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Likewise, discounts on new vehicles – as well as incentive spending and auto manufacturer discounts – are rare. Some automakers are now offering unusual spiffs, such as credits for accessory items, instead of discounts.

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