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Auto loans are taking longer to pay off

Ford F-150s are lined up at a dealership in Hudson, Wisconsin.

Ford F-150s are lined up at a dealership in Hudson, Wisconsin. Karen Bleier/AFP/Getty Images

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With an influx of new technology and safety features, cars have never been more expensive. But wages in the United States haven’t risen nearly as fast, so to get cheaper monthly payments, more consumers are taking out auto loans for longer periods of time.

This strategy might appear helpful upfront, but after several years of interest, borrowers end up paying much more in the end. Nearly one-third of all auto loans taken in 2019 are long term. Many dealerships today make more money from selling loans than selling cars.

Ben Eisen wrote about auto loans for the Wall Street Journal. He spoke to “Marketplace” host Kai Ryssdal about how they’re affecting middle-class consumers.

“It’s just gotten harder and harder to maintain that middle-class lifestyle,” Eisen said. “Everything’s gotten more expensive, the biggest things have gotten more expensive, and yet incomes haven’t risen to keep pace.”

Click the audio player above to hear the interview.

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