Over the past two decades car buyers have been burdened by more expensive loans spread out over a longer period. But before you jump to blame predatory bankers, take a closer look.
John Heasley of the Texas Bankers Association points out most Texas banks no longer offer car loans.
"Most traditional banks, especially those in Texas, are no longer in the auto lending space."
Heasley says credit unions and foreign banks have taken most of that business. He says buyers need to read the fine print.
"20 years ago a two-year car note became a five-year car note and a seven-year note. A lot of this is up to consumers; you need to know before you owe."
But Heasley says, despite the number of car buyers who are upside down on loans, this is nowhere near as bad as the mortgage meltdown that led to the great recession.
"The magnitude of consumer lending does not approach the large, multi-billion, if not trillion, dollar losses that we had with toxic mortgages that were being issued by a number of entities that failed."
The Federal Reserve says Americans owe a staggering $1.3-trillion in debt tied to their cars. That's up from about $740-billion ten years ago.