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States with the highest auto loan balances

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June 23, 2022
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States with the highest auto loan balances

With supply-chain issues during the pandemic driving vehicle prices to record levels, car buyers are taking out bigger loans in order to afford the vehicles they need for everyday living. 

Since 2003, the nationwide total average auto loan balance per capita has increased from $2,960 to $5,210—an increase of around 76%. Some consumers have found this to be difficult to manage: In the fourth quarter of 2021, 4% of all auto debt balances in the country were over 90 days delinquent.

Sound Dollar compiled statistics from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York's "State Level Household Debt Statistics 2003-2021" report to see which states have the highest auto debt balances. The report was released in February 2022 and contains data from 2021. Data in the report is from the New York Fed Consumer Credit Panel and Equifax. If more than one state had the same balance, they tied for the same rank.

A perfect storm of problems helped create today's situation. For new cars, the initial lockdowns in 2020 halted production for nearly three months, which cut back on the supply of new cars hitting sales lots. In 2021, a microchip shortage made the situation worse as manufacturers couldn't get the parts they needed to build new cars. The supply of cars tanked just as consumers started spending again, causing prices to go up with increased demand.

When consumers couldn't get their hands on new cars, they turned to the used car market. Supply couldn't keep up with the demand, so prices skyrocketed, jumping 42% since the pandemic started to an average of $28,205.

While car buyers are taking out larger loans to fund their purchases, they are also stretching their payments longer. The most common auto loan term used to be 60 months, but now borrowers are seeking out 72-month and even 84-month loan terms. This contributes to higher auto debt balances, costs consumers more in interest payments for the term of the loan, and it leaves them with less money to spend elsewhere.

Cars parked on the street in Sandpoint, Idaho
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Kirk Fisher // Shutterstock

#25. Idaho

- Average auto debt per capita: $5,190
- Total debt per capita: $58,090

Cars driving on Interstate 77/81 in southwest Virgina
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LisaCarter // Shutterstock

#24. Virginia

- Average auto debt per capita: $5,210
- Total debt per capita: $69,870

Toyota dealership in Cleveland, Tennessee
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James R. Martin // Shutterstock

#23. Tennessee

- Average auto debt per capita: $5,230
- Total debt per capita: $46,900

Street road sign for Elantra car dealership in Roswell, New Mexico
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Kristi Blokhin // Shutterstock

#22. New Mexico

- Average auto debt per capita: $5,320
- Total debt per capita: $42,930

A view of local bars, traffic, and businesses on 4th Avenue in downtown Anchorage, Alaska
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Jay Juno // Shutterstock

#21. Alaska

- Average auto debt per capita: $5,350
- Total debt per capita: $63,920

Cars on a highway road in South Carolina
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Kristi Blokhin // Shutterstock

#20. South Carolina

- Average auto debt per capita: $5,420
- Total debt per capita: $49,630

Cars on Interstate 95 in Wilmington, Delaware
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Khairil Azhar Junos // Shutterstock

#19. Delaware

- Average auto debt per capita: $5,440
- Total debt per capita: $58,280

The road leading from Yellowstone National Park to Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming
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haveseen // Shutterstock

#18. Wyoming

- Average auto debt per capita: $5,480
- Total debt per capita: $50,580

Mercedes Benz vehicles at the factory waiting to be delivered to the dealership in Vance, Alabama
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James R. Martin // Shutterstock

#17. Alabama

- Average auto debt per capita: $5,550
- Total debt per capita: $41,220

A row of unsold Jeeps is seen at a dealership in Cary, North Carolina
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Sharkshock // Shutterstock

#16. North Carolina

- Average auto debt per capita: $5,600
- Total debt per capita: $51,130

The Automaster Mercedes-Benz dealer located in Shelburne, near Burlington, Vermont
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EQRoy // Shutterstock

#15. Vermont

- Average auto debt per capita: $5,620
- Total debt per capita: $48,760

Traffic in downtown Charleston, West Virginia
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Medard L Lefevre // Shutterstock

#14. West Virginia

- Average auto debt per capita: $5,640
- Total debt per capita: $32,080

A car driving down the road in Maryland
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Khairil Azhar Junos // Shutterstock

#13. Maryland

- Average auto debt per capita: $5,700
- Total debt per capita: $75,460

Las Vegas car dealership on W. Sahara Ave
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RYO Alexandre // Shutterstock

#11. Nevada (tie)

- Average auto debt per capita: $5,710
- Total debt per capita: $61,150

Cars at an intersection in Salt Lake City, Utah
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Felix Mizioznikov // Shutterstock

#11. Utah (tie)

- Average auto debt per capita: $5,710
- Total debt per capita: $71,900

New Audi cars at a dealership in Scottsdale, Arizona
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Mystic Stock Photography // Shutterstock

#9. Arizona (tie)

- Average auto debt per capita: $5,780
- Total debt per capita: $60,090

Cars at rush hour on a city street
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Krasula // Shutterstock

#9. Mississippi (tie)

- Average auto debt per capita: $5,780
- Total debt per capita: $35,800

Cars parked outside the Fargo Theater in Fargo, North Dakota
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#8. North Dakota

- Average auto debt per capita: $5,800
- Total debt per capita: $48,250

Cars on Main Street in Nashua, New Hampshire
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ND700 // Shutterstock

#7. New Hampshire

- Average auto debt per capita: $5,860
- Total debt per capita: $60,020

Car dealership in Oklahoma
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Brad Remy // Shutterstock

#6. Oklahoma

- Average auto debt per capita: $5,900
- Total debt per capita: $37,620

Chevrolet automobile dealership in Fort Lauderdale, Florida
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#5. Florida

- Average auto debt per capita: $5,980
- Total debt per capita: $52,240

A view of cars in downtown Bentonville, Arkansas
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shuttersv // Shutterstock

#4. Arkansas

- Average auto debt per capita: $5,990
- Total debt per capita: $37,000

A row of parked cars
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gmstockstudio // Shutterstock

#3. Georgia

- Average auto debt per capita: $6,080
- Total debt per capita: $53,900

Motor City LA, a used auto dealership, in Lafayette, Louisiana
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ccpixx photography // Shutterstock

#2. Louisiana

- Average auto debt per capita: $6,510
- Total debt per capita: $43,190

Car dealership in Plano, Texas
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Vincent Doyle // Shutterstock

#1. Texas

- Average auto debt per capita: $7,270
- Total debt per capita: $49,720

This story originally appeared on Sound Dollar and was produced and distributed in partnership with Stacker Studio.

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