LAS VEGAS -- Dealers and lenders insist that there is no subprime bubble in automotive financing. And the numbers back them up.
On the other hand, the anecdotal evidence indicates that consumers with subprime credit who are looking for a car or truck have more options than they did a few years ago.
Just ask Ingram Walters.
In a world of cheap and easily available credit, many of Walters' buy-here, pay-here customers have disappeared.
Walters thinks they are alive, well and buying vehicles with traditional financing at new- and used-car dealerships that specialize in used vehicles younger than the 6- to 7-year-old vehicles he typically sells at his icars used-car lot in Monroe, N.C.
His brothers-in-law operate a Buick-GMC new-car dealership near Charlotte, N.C., and Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep-Ram, Nissan and Toyota dealerships in the rural towns about 75 miles east of Charlotte.
They confirm that lenders are buying deeper and providing credit to consumers whose only option used to be used-only lots such as Walters'.
The buy-here, pay-here dealer says business at his store was down 25 percent to about 75 to 80 vehicles a month in 2013.
Things have not improved this year.
"Even the people who didn't intend to pay me didn't buy from me last month," quipped Walters during Used Car Week, a series of conferences here this month sponsored by Auto Remarketing magazine.
Vehicles on Walters' lot typically have about 80,000 to 120,000 miles on their odometers.
He said his "gut" tells him that some of his former and would-be customers are in five- or six-year loans that are going to be hard for them to repay. He also speculates that money that financial institutions used to target for subprime mortgages is being funneled into subprime auto loans.
"If you're a customer and you can get financed in a car with 15,000 miles on it, you'd rather do that than buy one with 115,000 miles on it," he said.
In the buy-here, pay-here world, he said, "until that financing tightens, a lot of us are struggling right now."