As wages stagnate and the cost of living continues to rise, paying for a new car is a challenge for consumers, according to a new study.
The report by Bankrate.com shows that in all but one of the 25 largest U.S. metro areas, households with median incomes cannot afford the average price of a new car. In six of the surveyed areas, they can afford less than half the amount.
"The [average] household can't comfortably afford to buy a new vehicle," said Claes Bell, a Bankrate.com analyst. "That means a lot of households are overextending themselves on car costs, and that can potentially crowd out other priorities such as saving for retirement."
As a way to measure affordability, the study applied the so-called 20/4/10 rule: a 20 percent down payment, a four-year loan, and payments and insurance comprising 10 percent of a household's gross (pre-tax) income.
With the average new-car price at more than $33,000 in May, according to the latest data from Kelley Blue Book, only the Washington, D.C., metro area's nearly $100,000 median income could qualify.
In the worst market for affordability — Miami/Fort Lauderdale/West Palm Beach — a median-income household (around $51,000) could afford a $13,577 car, while the average new car there would cost more than double that ($35,368 including local sales tax), according to Bankrate data.