High unemployment and an uptick in auto loan delinquencies forced increased vehicle repossessions last year .
But the growth rate of repossessions slowed as auto lenders applied tougher credit standards to new loans. And while repos are up, the severity of per-unit losses associated with repos declined in 2009 vs. 2008.
That's because used-car values recovered, said Ford Credit in its 2009 annual report filed last month with the Securities and Exchange Commission. GMAC Financial Services reported a similar experience for 2009 vs. 2008.
The positive trend in used-car pricing has continued into 2010, according to auction firm ADESA Inc. In February, the latest available month, the average wholesale used-vehicle price was $10,138, an increase of 8.3 percent from the year-ago month, said Tom Kontos, executive vice president for customer strategies and analytics.