Many people rely on title loans when money is tight, regardless of their infamous predatory nature and high interest rates. However, getting that loan is much like playing Russian Roulette — and with similar odds. According to a recent PEW study, one out of every nine title loans results in a repossession, with the titled vehicle eventually heading to auction.
Recently, I received a notice that a large title loan vendor was to auction off over 500 vehicles. My curiosity got the better of me. Armed with the auction run list and a VIN history tool, I decided to take a look at what ends up at these auctions and how they get there.
My brother-in-law’s 1997 Honda Civic took a vacation recently, and it only cost me about $700.
“Aaahh Steve? My rig caught on fire.”
At first I thought about oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico engulfed in an endless torch of black smoke and molten metal.
Then I realized that the repo driver was talking about his own truck. In all my years of dealing with repo companies, I had never known an auto recovery company, big or small, that was neglectful enough to turn their money maker into an ashen shell.
Before noon I would be awakened by another surprise.
First the guy called. Then his wife. Then the repo driver.
The truck had been out in front of their house for nearly a half hour. Lights flashing. Neighbors peeved, and humiliation aplenty.
“Steve, I can get both cars. What do you want me to do?”
Credit reporting agency TransUnion is forecasting a rise in auto loan delinquencies next year, adding to the list of factors that could slow a turnaround in auto sector sales and profits in 2010. 60-day auto loan delinquency has been rising throughout 2009, reports the WSJ, as tighter lending standards have increased the ratio of delinquencies in outstanding loans. Those tighter standards sill contribute to a slight downturn in delinquencies in the first half of next year TransUnion’s Peter Turek tells Automotive News [sub], but by halfway through the year those numbers should increase again. Nationwide, TransUnion reckons .92 of all auto loans will be in delinquency by the end of 2010, compared to .86 at the end of this year. The average national auto debt is $12,542, and the Freep reports that loan terms are falling and average credit scores for approved loans are rising.