The city with the highest-growing auto loan debt in the nation is Winston-Salem, North Carolina, according to a new report from the financial website WalletHub. 

Compared to the national average auto loan balance of over $13,000 per household, Winston-Salem residents hold an average loan balance of $18,373. Between quarter four of 2023 and quarter one of 2024, Winston-Salem residents increased their average auto loan balance by nearly 6.8%, which is the largest increase in the country. 

“Unfortunately, people in Winston-Salem might not be very well-equipped to deal with this large increase in auto loan debt,” the report states. “It also has a large share of people in financial distress, meaning they have been temporarily allowed to pause payments due to financial difficulty.”

The average monthly auto loan payment among residents is $438, and the city has a high debt delinquency rate of about 15% on loan balances – the fifth most debt-delinquent city in the nation.

Source: WalletHub

“A big increase in auto loan debt in a city can either show that residents are experiencing financial difficulty because they need to borrow more, or that residents are responsible because they can qualify for larger loan amounts,” said WalletHub Analyst Cassandra Happe. “In most of the top 10 cities driving up auto debt, the extra debt is a bad sign because those cities tend to have high debt delinquency rates and a lot of people experiencing financial distress.”

The highest auto loan debt in the nation is among Scottsdale, Arizona residents. However, Scottdale residents increased their balance by a mere 1.8% between Q4 2023 and Q1 2024. 

The findings come as interest rates have reached levels not seen since the early 2000s. New auto loan interest rates reached 8.57% as of February 2024, an 87% increase from November 2021.