Especially when the economy at large faces a downturn, consumers struggle to bounce back from financial mistakes. Automotive lenders and dealers aim to shield customers from financial risks that could prevent them from buying a vehicle, and many are disseminating educational resources to help their customers and mitigate potential losses.
When credit tightens on vehicle financing and transaction costs rise, many customers either choose to leave or are priced out of the new-vehicle market. Experts say dealers and lenders need to be creative to attract and retain customers in times of economic stress by making sure they're equipped to pay for the vehicle they want or need.
Financial literacy starts in the home, with parents teaching their children how to pay their bills, said Adam Lee, chairman of Lee Auto Malls in Auburn, Maine, which has seven new-vehicle rooftops and 13 used-car stores.
However, some of the responsibility falls to the industry to spread financial awareness, he said.
"It's everyone's responsibility, including the responsibility not to screw them," Lee said. "That's not a popular concept. As a seller, I have some responsibility to look out for the buyer."
Much of consumers' personal finance education is out of dealers' control. Customers' financial literacy could depend on the environment they grew up in and the school they attended, according to Vince Bray, head of corporate communications at Toyota Financial Services.