Car Ownership and Financing

  The Mobility Agenda addresses and pursues opportunities to improve access to private vehicles for low-wage workers in need of reliable, flexible, affordable transportation.


Affordable and reliable transportation is a necessity for a strong economy in every community. Public transit in dense areas with housing and employment opportunities can serve a large population. Yet transit must be part of a larger menu of options because it does not serve all areas or all workers. 

 Eighty-eight percent of all people drive to work, while only about 5 percent use public transit. Private vehicle ownership for low-wage workers is an important factor in a strong economy and an inclusive society and has significant benefits for individuals and families. Cars ensure more people can fully contribute to the local economy because vehicle ownership increases employment opportunities, hours worked, and income.  


On this page, The Mobility Agenda provides resources about car financing research, opportunities, and news.

Please visit our sites on transportation and driver's license issues.


Steer Clear: How Credit Unions Help Car Buyers Avoid Predatory Loans   

Seven lessons outlined in the paper:

Lesson 1 Non-prime used auto lending is a financially viable line of business.

Lesson 2 Reduce the underwriting gap by transferring traditional character lending techniques into an automated decision-making process.

Lesson 3 Get in front of dealers by assisting members in finding cars.

Lesson 4 Employ a “hard close” to cement bonds with members.

Lesson 5 Insure borrowers against events out of the realm of their control.

Lesson 6 Export risks by using available loan loss insurance products and guarantees.

Lesson 7 Keep in touch with borrowers by allocating resources to monitor and collect loans at the first sign of trouble.


Antitrust and Consumer Law Section’s Tips on Buying Reliable Used Cars and Trucks for a Fair Price


Table of Contents
  1. Before You Visit a Dealer
  2. Finding a Reliable Car or Truck
  3. Paying a Fair Price for a Used Car or Truck
  4. Financing Your Used Vehicle Purchase
  5. How to Handle Your Trade-In
  6. Your Legal Rights if Things Go Wrong with a Used Car or Truck:
    A Brief Explanation of Warranties
  7. Should You Buy an Extended Service Contract on a Used Car?
  8. Should You Buy Credit Life, Disability or "Gap" Insurance?
  9. Should You Buy a Low-Mileage "Demonstrator," "Program Car," or "Executive Model"?
  10. Safety




Pursuit of the Dream: Cars & Jobs in America 


The Annie E. Casey Foundation recently produced a documentary outlining the issue of car financing for low-wage workers. The video is now available online and is accompanied by a discussion guide.

Pursuit of the Dream: Cars & Jobs in America, produced by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, explains the importance of affordable, reliable transportation for building the economic success of low-income families and their communities.... Recommendations on how to avoid these pitfalls and tips for knowledgeable car purchase and ownership are provided in the documentary and in the printed discussion guide, included in each DVD case. The discussion guide also suggests ways to use the documentary with different audiences and includes resources for more information. The 22-minute documentary is provided in both English and Spanish versions.

Click here to see the full video online:

Click here to see the accompanying discussion guide:

 Click here to order a free copy of the DVD:


More Resources

Making Connections Survey Data for Ten Cities
The Mobility Agenda
Center for Economic and Policy Research

Analysis of Sub-Prime Lending Program
University Federal Credit Union, Austin Texas   

Car Financing for Low and Moderate Income Consumers
Aspen Institute

Spring Newsletter 2008
Economic Justice Project Update
Auto Fraud in Washington State: Poor quality cars, packing & limited English proficient individuals; Used Vehicle Buyers Bill of Rights Act

Car Financing in the News 

Drive out of poverty with a car
Peter Valdes-Dapena
CNN Money, May 5, 2008

High-tech gear disables car if borrower misses payment
by Chris Woodyard
USA Today, March 30, 2008

Repossessions on the rise, Inland auto lenders say
by Rodd Cayton
The Press-Enterprise, March 29, 2008

Car repossessions on the rise
by Dylan McCament
Mount Vernon News, March 18, 2008

The used-car blues
by Waveney Ann Moore
St. Petersburg Times, March 16, 2008

Trapped by title loan?
by Marie Rohde
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, March 16, 2008

Entering the reposession lane: Default rates soar on auto loans in pattern likened to mortgage crisis
by Jenn Abelson
Boston Globe, March 7, 2008 

Tough economic times creating lots of work for repo man
by Troy Kehoe (Indiana), March 6, 2008

Pain spreads: Car repos rise
by John Eckberg
The Cincinnati Enquirer, February 26, 2008

Auto Loan Delinquencies on the Rise
by Chris Haak
Reuters, February 14, 2008

Delinquent auto loans on the rise
by Karen Rouse
The Denver Post, February 7, 2008

Prime US auto asset-backed securites losses up 60 percent year-on-year basis, February 1, 2008