Fact Sheet: Auto Dealers are Lenders

Car Dealers Are Lenders/Creditors When the Consumer Gets both the Car and the Financing from the Dealer

See this PDF for an example of a car loan.

For the millions of consumers who get both the vehicle and financing at the dealership, auto dealers are “creditors.” Both the contract and the law say so. Take a look at the attached sample of a typical motor vehicle installment sales contract.

  • The auto dealer is the creditor on the installment contract with the buyer: The contract says that the buyer/borrower promises to pay the dealer in installments, and that the dealer is the “secured party” in that credit contract.

Under contract and under state and federal law, that makes the dealer a “creditor.”

  • The auto dealer frequently then sells the contract to a third party “assignee” – a larger bank or finance company such as those affiliated with the auto manufacturers, such as GMAC or Ford Motor Credit.

Some car dealers keep their own installment sales accounts (such as some “buy‐here/pay‐here subprime auto dealers), but most dealers sell the contracts on to third party lenders. This is called “indirect lending,” and
approximately $430 billion of auto financing in 2007 was done through this method.

Car dealers act just like mortgage brokers, as well.

The auto dealers, like mortgage brokers, can raise the interest rate so that the buyer pays more than she qualifies for. This interest rate mark‐up goes to the dealer: just like a mortgage broker’s yield spread premium, this raises the interest costs for the car buyer.

Just like mortgage brokers, the dealers can decide which lender to use for the deal, and the auto dealer can decide to use the one that will pay it the biggest mark‐up.

There Should Be No Special Interest Carve Out for Auto Dealers who Originate or Broker Loans – They Must Fall Within the Jurisdiction of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Like Other Lenders & Creditors