"One of the big drivers of used-car success is the restoration of credit," Maroone told me on Tuesday.
Yes, it's improving. And credit for prime and near-prime customers is almost back to where it was before the economic crash in the fall of 2008, he says. But financing for subprime customers, though better, still has a way to go. That's a huge issue in the metro markets where big groups like AutoNation operate.
In some metro areas, as many as 25 percent of used-car buyers are in that subprime category, Maroone said. That translates to a lot of vulnerable used-car deals.