Just 144 monthly payments and the car's yours

Zabritski: Loans that long are few and far between.
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Car loan terms are getting longer. But 12 years?

It sounds crazy, but there are buyers -- and lenders -- willing to sign that deal. Case in point: A business consultant bought a $300,000 Aston Martin from a U.S. dealership in February with the help of a 144-month loan.

That's an isolated case. While loans of 96 months or more may raise eyebrows, they generally don't worry the people who watch the health of automotive credit. Loans that long are few and far between, says Melinda Zabritski, senior director of automotive credit for Experian Automotive. And they primarily go to wealthy individuals with high credit scores buying expensive vehicles.

"Those are people who pay their bills," Zabritski said.

Indeed, the Aston Martin buyer is a successful businessperson who made a hefty down payment, says a staffer at the Aston Martin dealership, who wished to remain anonymous. But stretching the amount financed over 144 months offered additional flexibility that the customer appreciated. And the buyer plans to pay the 12-year loan off early.

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