New auto loans are easier to get 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 access to loans in September was 5.5% easier than during the same period a year earlier. Broadly speaking, access to credit from banks, credit unions and the captive financial subsidiaries of automakers is almost back to pre-pandemic levels.

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However, only automakers have eased lending 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.

This does not mean, however, that car dealers are flush with vehicles. Inventory levels remain at historic lows with little change in sight as automakers struggle to source the parts needed to assemble new vehicles. Supply chain bottlenecks, compounded by global shortages of labor and computer chips, are making new cars difficult to locate.

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Similarly, new-vehicle rebates — as well as automaker incentive and rebate spending — are few and far between. Some automakers now offer unusual perks, such as accessory credits, instead of discounts.

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