Which Age Group Carries the Biggest Auto Loan Debt?

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LendingTree®, the nation’s leading online loan marketplace, today released its study on auto debt by generation that found those between the ages of 39 and 54 shoulder the biggest load among its users, with nearly 60 percent of Gen Xers having an auto loan.

In 2018, U.S. auto loan originations hit a 19-year high — $584 billion. Rising car prices, interest rates and loan term lengths translate to Americans tossing a large chunk of income toward more than $1.14 trillion in auto debt.

Key findings

  • Not only do 59.7 percent of Gen Xers have an auto loan, they have the highest median loan balances — $18,741.
  • Baby boomers are in second place, with a median balance of $17,185.
  • However, millennials are more likely than boomers to have an auto loan at all — 55 percent of these young adults hold an auto note.
  • For Americans of all ages:
    • The average new car loan is nearly $30,000.
    • The average monthly new car payment is $530.
    • The average auto loan term is nearly 69 months.

Gen X’s auto loan debt is higher. At $18,741, the median balance of Gen Xers who have auto loans is 9 percent more than baby boomers’ $17,185 median balance, nearly 16 percent more than millennials’ $16,200 and 37 percent more than the lowest median balance of $13,666 held by Gen Z.

Gen X has more auto loan debt than any other generation. Nearly 60 percent of Gen X has an auto loan. They also log the greatest number of miles, according to data from the Federal Highway Administration. Millennials are right behind Gen X; 54.5 percent have an auto loan. Baby boomers are not far behind at about 54 percent.

The oldest and the youngest are the least likely to have auto debt. Only 36 percent of Gen Z have an auto loan, the median balance of which is $13,666. Of the oldest generation in the study, 43 percent have an auto loan, the median balance of which is $14,042.

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