Most median-incomers can't afford new car, study says

  • Article by: CHRISTOPHER SEWARD , Atlanta Journal-Constitution
  • Updated: March 19, 2014 - 4:50 PM
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Tesla representative John Van Cleave, right, shows customers Sarah and Robert Reynolds, left, and Vince Giardina, a new Tesla all electric car, Monday, March 17, 2014, at a Tesla showroom inside the Kenwood Towne Centre in Cincinnati.

Photo: Al Behrman, ASSOCIATED PRESS - AP

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The average price of a new car these days is $32,086, according to Kelley Blue Book. It’s a price tag that is out of reach for many median-income families, according to a new study by Interest.com.

The company’s annual Car Affordability Study found that median-income families in major cities are paying way more for new cars than they can afford. In fact, only families in Washington, D.C., make enough money to cover the average cost of a new car, according to the study, which suggests affordable purchase prices for 20 major cities.

Experian reported in December the average amount financed for a new vehicle was $26,719, the highest since 2008.

Interest.com suggested median-income potential car buyers would do well to stick with a new vehicle priced at around $20,000, an affordable purchase price that is 38 percent below the new car price average.

“Just because you can manage the monthly payment doesn’t mean you should let a $30,000 or $40,000 ride gobble up such a huge share of your paycheck,” managing editor Mike Sante said in releasing the overall study. “You can get a great car for much less and use the savings to invest in yourself.”

Interest.com used data on median income, auto insurance costs and vehicle sales taxes to come up with its findings. It then calculated how much the median-income family should borrow and budget for a monthly payment, based on at least a 20 percent down payment, four-year loan and a monthly payment that doesn’t exceed 10 percent of gross income (the 20/4/10 rule).

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