Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Auto Finance Companies Making a Comeback
- Originating More Loans than Banks or Credit Unions

From Collections and Credit Risk comes a news item that auto finance companies have drastically increased their share of the auto loan market in the past two years, up 47% overall. Finance companies are originating 38.5% of auto loans versus 17.6% for banks and credit unions.

That finance companies have increased market share should come as no surprise. In 2008 Chrysler Financial and GMAC were severely limited during the bailout. Chrysler Financial ended up biting the dust and the auto arm of GMAC was replaced by Ally Financial. There was shrinkage and consolidation among other players. Most notably, Santander acquired Drive Financial.

How is this important to consumers and consumer lawyer? The finance companies generally buy installment sales contracts originated by the dealers. Traditionally, the dealers would try to write these contracts at as high an interest rate as possible, and the dealers would be rewarded with a yield spread premium kickback from the lender based upon the interest rate. I have heard anecdotally that the dynamic has changed, and the dealers actually have to pay the finance companies to take the deal now. I don't know if that is true, but it does seem like there are more "yo yo" sales going on where the dealer calls the customer back under the premise that the financing has fallen through.

I suggest that it is more important than ever for consumers to avoid financing through the dealer and to arrange your own financing separately through the bank or credit union of your choice. Lenders will bid to get your business at sites like and I have found that in most cases, going with an internet consolidator like these sites or by going through your local credit union, you can usually get the best deal and the most straightforward deal at that. If you are not comfortable negotiating a deal at the dealer, many credit unions offer a "car buying service" that will result in a cleaner, better deal than going in to the dealer with no experience.

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