What you pay for your car, and your finance rate, varies by person, depending on the car you’re buying, your credit worthiness, your job security and your ability to negotiate.

In Sept, 2012, Dave bought a new 2013 Nissan Altima SL. It was part of Nissan’s friends, family, or business associate program, known as Vehicle Purchase Program (VPP), so Dave got the car for around $26,000 and paid cash.

According to Truecar.com, the average transaction price of a new vehicle for February, 2013 was $30,958. Truecar.com gave a further breakdown of the average transaction price for a new car in February, 2013, by brand:

Chrysler (Chrysler Dodge, Jeep, Ram, Fiat) $28,614
Ford (Ford, Lincoln) $32,786
GM (Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, GMC) $32,977
Honda (Acura, Honda) $27,004
Hyundai/Kia $22,549
Nissan (Nissan, Infiniti) $27,749
Toyota (Lexus, Scion, Toyota) $28,618
Volkswagen (Audi, Volkswagen) $33,812

Not everyone pays cash

Bonnie lives in New Mexico, but drove to Texas to purchase a brand new 2010 Lexus HS 250h in December, 2009. The price was $40,801.00. She financed $31,000 at 4.95% for 72 months. Her purchase price was higher than the National average and her own State purchase price of a new car. Her amount financed was higher than the National average , and her State average, as well as the number of months financed. Her interest rate was lower than the National average, 4.36%, but right in line with what is charged for a new car loan in New Mexico.

Consumers who financed a vehicle in Minnesota in Q4, 2012, averaged the highest credit score at 794, data courtesy of Experian Automotive

Melinda Zabritski, Director of Automotive Credit for Experian, says the average amount financed for a new vehicle in the U.S. in the fourth quarter of 2012 was $26,692, the average credit score for a new vehicle loan in the United States was 755, and the average finance rate for a new vehicle was 4.36% in Q4, 2012. Zabritski said that Experian Automotive was able to break out the financing attributes for new and used vehicles in 45 of the States from its vehicle database. Information on the other areas, like D.C. is currently not available.

Q4 2012 Top Ten states with highest average new vehicle financing

Consumers who financed a vehicle in Alaska in Q4, 2012, averaged the highest light vehicle financing by State at $30,847, data courtesy of Experian Automotive

1. Alaska $30,847 – Alaska’s vehicles are more expensive right off the bat because of shipping and handling charges. The average credit score for consumers who financed a vehicle in Alaska was 748, while the average interest rate for Alaska was 4.37%.

2. Texas $29,832 – The average credit score for consumers who financed a vehicle in Texas was 733. The average interest rate for Texas was 4.96%.

3. New Mexico $28,959 – The average credit score for consumers who financed a vehicle in New Mexico was 733. The average interest rate for New Mexico was 4.99%.

4. Louisiana $28,782 – The average credit score for consumers who financed a vehicle in Louisiana was 734. The average interest rate for Louisiana was 5.19%

5. Nevada $28,408 – The average credit score for consumers who financed a vehicle in Nevada was 725. The average interest rate for Nevada was 5.05%.

6. Colorado $28,247 – The average credit score for consumers who financed a vehicle in Colorado was 764. The average interest rate for Colorado was 4.34%.

7. North Dakota $28,077 – The average credit score for consumers who financed a vehicle in North Dakota was 775. The average interest rate for North Dakota was 4.08%.

8. Washington $28,064 – The average credit score for consumers who financed a vehicle in Washington was 776. The average interest rate for Washington was 4.04%.

9. Utah
$27,979 – The average credit score for consumers who financed a vehicle in Utah was 760. The average interest rate for Utah was 4.39%.

10. Arizona $27,913 – The average credit score for consumers who financed a vehicle in Arizona was 741. The average interest rate for Arizona was 4.85%.

Consumers who financed a vehicle in Mississippi in Q4, 2012, averaged the highest finance rate by State at 5.55%, data courtesy of Experian Automotive

Angus lives in Arizona and bought a 2012 Nissan Pathfinder. Angus wrote in, “There were lots of incentives as they were trying to unload the last of the R51 model before the new 2013s arrived and the employee pricing helped as well. Paid 27.5K for the 4×4 SV model, about 7 or 8 under list, if I remember. Stock was getting low so I had to go a couple of hundred miles to find what I wanted (only one trim level had rear air plus cloth seats and backup camera). Financed 25K at one and a bit percent (lowest rate was dealer arranged through Capital One in the end, better than Nissan could do). The cheap rate helped by credit score that made the salesman comment he couldn’t remember when he last saw one that high (800 plus)…but hard work and careful planning went into that. Payments are right at $450/month over 5 years (and paid automatically/electronically so I don’t forget and damage the rating by accident!)”

The moral of the story: Shop around for the best price and be willing to drive for the car you want. Know your credit score and shop around for financing. Every part of the purchase of a new vehicle is negotiable and your goal is to get the least monthly payment and to pay the loan off as quickly as possible.


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