Seven-year Auto Loans a Terrible Idea spotlights today what an awful idea it is for consumers to take out a seven year auto loan being offered by companies including Toyota’s captive finance company and others.

I have written about this before, going back to my days at USA Today hen automakers wrote tons of bad loans after the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11. One of the awful things that happens is that once upside down in a car loan, a car owner goes back to the dealer, and the dealer sells the person another car, and rolls the difference between what the trade-in is worth and what the borrower owes into the new loan. I reported a case once where some poor toad owed $12,000 on an eight-year old Escort.

Yes, people are responsible for their own borrowings. But some consumers are more sophisticated than others. And car dealers are among those who often take advantage of the less sophisticated. Sorry dealers, but it’s true.

From Consumers that agree to these terms will pay for their car for seven years. Similar to the problems plaguing the current housing situation, these loans could damage both consumers and banks that participate in the lending. At 84-month terms, a $20,000 car will cost an additional $5,335 in interest alone – roughly a quarter of the entire car’s price. “In today’s economy, people are finding it harder to project their financial situation over a longer period of time,” said Sergio Stiberman, CEO and founder of “It’s much easier to calculate and project your financial situation for the next couple of years than an 84-month period. And with all the uncertainty in today’s economy, it’s very unsettling to assume your financial picture six or seven years from today.”

Leasetrader is an interesting service that matches people with lease holders who want to get out of their car leases early. If one person with a lease drives their car for two of the three year lease contract, and needs out of the deal, a consumer can pick up the remaining year of the person’s lease.”

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