Auto Dealers’ Lending Abuses Cost Billions


View this document (PDF)

Published: November 9, 2009

The most common type of large loan held by Americans is the loan that finances their car—yet a recent mark-up of the Consumer Financial Protection Agency (CFPA) bill would allow auto dealers to be exempt from basic oversight that could save American families billions.

Many dealers are like loan brokers:  they typically write the car loans, then sell the loan to a third party lender.  Common financial abuses among auto dealers are analogous to those that wreaked havoc in the mortgage market: confusing loan terms, hidden costs, and inflated sales commissions.  As with mortgages, the financial incentives on car loans encourage tricks and traps and unnecessary added costs, particularly for families who can least afford them. Yet dealers won an exemption from CFPA rules, despite common abuses like these:

-  Dealer overcharges on interest rates.  It is all too easy for auto dealers to charge high interest rates on car loans, even when the buyer qualifies for a lower rate from the lender who buys the loan.  These overcharges (i.e., kickbacks) cost Americans $20 billion each year.  The attached chart shows the cost of auto dealers overcharges in each state

(See Pages 2-3). 

-  "Yo yo" sales use classic bait-and-switch scams.  Car dealers change the financing terms after the buyer has already taken possession of the car. After hearing that "the financing fell through," the buyer is forced to return the car and renegotiate the contract. Buyers who return to the dealership pay on average 5% more for their car loans.

-  Abusive lending by dealers is targeted. Even when they have the same or better credit than white consumers, borrowers of color and lower-income borrowers are more likely to be charged higher dealer markups.  Consider these statistics:

·  More than 54% of African Americans were charged kickbacks vs.31% of Whites.

·  Among low- and moderate-income buyers who used dealer financing for their last auto purchase: 1 in 8 with an income less than $40,000 experienced a yo-yo or bait and switch scam; and 1 in 4 with an income less than $25,000.

Other dealers are lenders themselves:  Buy Here, Pay Here (BHPH) used car lots may charge rates between 12 and 25 percent.   The BHPH industry—which occupies a $30 billion segment of the market—is geared toward borrowers with no credit or marred credit. Customers wind up making payments that vastly exceed the car's actual value. Auto industry analysts cite these lots as a finance business, as BHBP dealers gain more from loans than from car sales.

In the current marketplace, finding decent auto financing is no longer based on car quality or customer creditworthiness, but rather a potential car buyer's ability to survive a financial shell game. Including the auto dealers under CFPA would rein in abusive practices and give consumers a better chance at a fair deal on a car.

DEALER KICKBACK VOLUME BY STATE 2007[i]

Rank

State

New Vehicle Market Share

New Vehicle Kickback Volume

Used Vehicle Market Share

Used Vehicle Kickback Volume

Total Dealer Kickback Volume

26

Alabama

1.26%

$110,476,064

1.65%

$199,560,418

$310,036,482

50

Alaska

0.11%

$9,914,978

0.21%

$26,035,577

$35,950,555

13

Arizona

2.61%

$228,410,644

2.11%

$256,264,673

$484,675,317

35

Arkansas

0.85%

$74,402,532

0.90%

$109,059,142

$183,461,674

1

California

12.11%

$1,057,992,630

11.95%

$1,448,752,786

$2,506,745,416

22

Colorado

1.61%

$140,493,995

1.47%

$178,025,775

$318,519,771

30

Connecticut

1.17%

$102,079,879

1.10%

$132,847,890

$234,927,769

49

DC

0.26%

$22,468,182

0.15%

$18,663,357

$41,131,539

46

Delaware

0.31%

$26,820,950

0.21%

$25,634,228

$52,455,178

4

Florida

5.77%

$504,151,195

5.56%

$674,680,597

$1,178,831,792

8

Georgia

3.70%

$323,065,213

3.36%

$407,671,641

$730,736,855

42

Hawaii

0.33%

$28,538,113

0.30%

$36,936,277

$65,474,390

39

Idaho

0.55%

$48,427,492

0.49%

$58,969,272

$107,396,765

6

Illinois

4.52%

$394,937,006

4.02%

$487,602,027

$882,539,032

16

Indiana

2.18%

$190,226,706

2.02%

$245,349,422

$435,576,129

27

Iowa

1.35%

$118,358,410

1.20%

$145,118,756

$263,477,166

32

Kansas

0.99%

$86,458,502

0.96%

$116,945,478

$203,403,980

20

Kentucky

1.59%

$138,588,600

1.62%

$197,001,967

$335,590,567

25

Louisiana

1.31%

$114,836,696

1.63%

$197,071,081

$311,907,778

41

Maine

0.31%

$27,066,509

0.34%

$41,375,372

$68,441,881

18

Maryland

1.99%

$173,845,933

1.93%

$233,483,543

$407,329,476

17

Massachusetts

2.16%

$189,055,715

1.80%

$218,817,918

$407,873,633

10

Michigan

3.42%

$298,616,832

2.79%

$337,914,435

$636,531,267

24

Minnesota

1.43%

$124,807,602

1.56%

$189,653,997

$314,461,600

33

Mississippi

0.94%

$82,106,608

0.91%

$110,868,246

$192,974,854

19

Missouri

1.67%

$145,547,261

1.88%

$228,497,594

$374,044,855

43

Montana

0.29%

$25,054,850

0.27%

$33,335,045

$58,389,895

38

Nebraska

0.46%

$40,522,425

0.55%

$67,216,943

$107,739,369

31

Nevada

1.12%

$98,264,544

0.91%

$109,960,057

$208,224,601

40

New Hampshire

0.38%

$33,358,404

0.41%

$50,043,793

$83,402,197

11

New Jersey

3.01%

$263,222,301

3.05%

$370,352,203

$633,574,504

36

New Mexico

0.73%

$63,723,788

0.86%

$104,451,505

$168,175,293

3

New York

6.23%

$544,292,611

6.61%

$801,815,017

$1,346,107,627

9

North Carolina

2.97%

$259,900,705

3.34%

$405,176,242

$665,076,947

48

North Dakota

0.20%

$17,265,135

0.21%

$26,004,051

$43,269,186

7

Ohio

3.48%

$303,940,474

3.86%

$467,821,924

$771,762,398

29

Oklahoma

1.09%

$95,642,921

1.20%

$145,106,631

$240,749,552

28

Oregon

1.09%

$94,914,110

1.23%

$149,702,143

$244,616,253

5

Pennsylvania

4.11%

$358,910,664

4.47%

$541,872,721

$900,783,385

45

Rhode Island

0.27%

$23,919,687

0.28%

$33,479,337

$57,399,024

23

South Carolina

1.34%

$117,471,427

1.62%

$197,001,967

$314,473,394

47

South Dakota

0.21%

$18,698,289

0.27%

$32,424,430

$51,122,719

15

Tennessee

2.07%

$180,501,359

2.33%

$282,904,093

$463,405,452

2

Texas

7.85%

$685,630,944

7.90%

$957,842,960

$1,643,473,904

34

Utah

0.87%

$76,438,659

0.88%

$107,201,537

$183,640,196

44

Vermont

0.26%

$22,817,732

0.29%

$34,694,298

$57,512,030

12

Virginia

2.85%

$248,819,979

2.84%

$343,969,840

$592,789,819

14

Washington

2.31%

$202,267,821

2.24%

$271,233,432

$473,501,253

37

West Virginia

0.67%

$58,205,272

0.51%

$62,381,349

$120,586,621

21

Wisconsin

1.52%

$133,240,489

1.57%

$190,286,941

$323,527,431

51

Wyoming

0.11%

$10,024,212

0.13%

$16,281,936

$26,306,148

 

TOTAL U.S.

100.00%

$8,738,743,050

100.00%

$12,125,361,864

$20,864,104,914



[i] Figures derived from kickback data in the 2008 Consumer Bankers Association Automotive Finance Study (2007 full-year data), and 2007 sales data for dealer-financed vehicles from CNW Market Research (excluding leases).   State market shares also from 2007 CNW Market Research data.