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9-Year Auto Loans?! 'Crazy' But True!

Here's something that should make you realize what crazy times we are living in: 9-year auto loans are popping up around the country. That's right, it wasn't a typo. Nine years! 108 months! Almost a third of the time used to pay off a conventional mortgage!

I talked with a dealer on the East Coast the other day, who wrote his first 9-year loan. What's the first word out of his mouth after telling me about the new loan? "Crazy."

Yeah, that's one word for it. I've got several others, but I'll save them.

This is part of a trend we've seen for some time, with new-car buyers moving towards longer and longer re-payment terms. In fact, the average auto loan is now 64 months. Makes me laugh to think of the quaint days when re-paying a loan in 36 months was the standard.

All of this has to do with buyers wanting the lowest possible auto loan payment every month. I can't blame them for that. But are people actually thinking this through when they sign up today for a loan they could conceivably be paying it off in 2017?

Even more of a concern is whether or not these people will be "upside down" on their auto loan if they try to trade out for a newer model in a few years. Believe me, it will happen.

Blame it on the struggling economy. Blame it on our desire to get a new car with a low monthly payment. Or blame it on dealers and lenders doing whatever they can to "put you in that new car." The fact is, we are seeing longer auto loans, and there's no reason to see that trend changing.

Anybody out there in the market for a 10-year auto loan?

Questions? Comments? BehindTheWheel@cnbc.com

Autos