Shoppers in the Northeast and Great Lakes regions show the highest levels of responsible car shopping, including using auto loan calculators, while states mainly in the South and Southwest show the least-responsible behavior, based on a study by Edmunds.com.
The automotive information website found that Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island “lead the country in responsible car-shopping behavior” looking at 842,000 transactions May through September.
Shoppers in New Mexico ranked last in responsible behavior, according to Edmunds.
The clearest link between shoppers and behavior is how much time shoppers use auto loan calculators, Edmunds said, with more usage suggesting more responsible behavior overall.
Edmunds.com based the conclusions in its state-by-state ranking of responsible car-shopping behavior on averages for four major factors: Trade-in with negative equity – under water, upside down – the dollar amount of negative equity, financing term and interest rate (APR).
Combining scores in all four categories, the Edmunds rankings showed the greatest responsible behavior among shoppers in the Northeast and Great Lakes regions and in Hawaii, and least responsible behavior in the South and Southwest, along with Wyoming and Alaska:
- Rhode Island
- New Jersey
- New York
- New Mexico
Following is a summary of results for each factor Edmunds considered in the rankings:
Trade-in with negative equity
Connecticut (10 percent), Massachusetts and Rhode Island (11 percent), and New Jersey (12 percent) shoppers are most responsible on average based on the low percentage of trade-ins under water, with negative equity ranging up to 33 percent in Arkansas and 32 percent in New Mexico.
Negative equity amount
Shoppers in Connecticut ($4,499), Massachusetts ($4,686) and Rhode Island ($4,694) also had trade-ins with the lowest dollar amount of negative equity, with Wisconsin ($4,724) and Pennsylvania ($4,799) also coming in below $5,000. The highest amount of negative equity was for trade-ins in Alaska ($6,852).
Length of financing
Car shoppers in Connecticut (64.2 months), Massachusetts (64.9 months), New York (65.6 months) and New Jersey (65.9 months) financed their vehicles for the shortest terms on average. The longest financing terms were found in Alaska at 74.6 months and New Mexico at 72.4 months.
Average interest rate (APR)
Only borrowers in Connecticut scored an average APR under 4 percent at 3.97 percent, while borrowers in Georgia (7.65 percent), Mississippi (7.2 percent) and New Mexico (7.06 percent) were paying the highest average APR, according to Edmunds’ data.
And what about those online auto-finance calculators?
“Analysts also dug into economic and Edmunds site data to pinpoint exactly why consumers in certain states seemed to be more responsible car buyers,” according to Edmunds. “They learned that the amount of time shoppers spent using car shopping calculators on Edmunds had more of a direct correlation on responsible behavior than any other indicator analysts studied.”
Edmunds said site data showed that “shoppers from the top-five-ranked states typically spent 55 percent more time on calculators versus shoppers from the bottom five.”
“Other pages had some degree of frequency, but the calculators were the standout pages,” Ivan Drury, Edmunds’ senior manager of industry analysis, said in an email.
“The primary driver behind responsible shopping is simply how informed shoppers are and how much they do to prepare before they even step foot into the dealership,” said Drury. “Responsible car shopping behaviors vary from state to state, but on balance, these differences are not driven holistically by economic factors or income levels.”
Find out how your state rates on Edmunds’ scale of responsible shopping behavior by state.
Then, when it’s time for homework, take advantage of Santander Consumer USA’s Finance Calculators – Payment (affordability), Budget, Early Payoff, Fuel Savings, Monthly Payment and Refinance – regardless of where you plan to buy your next vehicle.
Because you don’t have to live in Connecticut to be a responsible shopper.