The average amount financed for a new vehicle reached a record $28,381 in the fourth quarter of 2014. That represents a more than $950 increase from a year ago and a $582 increase from the previous quarter.
"In most parts of the country, vehicles are viewed as a necessity to everyday life, which is why we continue to see consumers willing to take out larger loans as the average price of vehicles continues to rise," said Melinda Zabritski, Experian's senior director of automotive finance, in a statement.
For used vehicles, the average loan amount increased $437 from last year to reach $18,411.
The average new-vehicle monthly payment also hit a record in the fourth quarter, reaching $482, its highest level on record, according to Experian data.
Leasing continues to be a popular option for car shoppers, jumping 3.6 percent from a year ago to reach nearly 30 percent of all new vehicles financed in the quarter.
The average monthly lease payment decreased $12 from a year ago to reach $408 in the fourth quarter of 2014.
Transaction prices reached a record high in 2014, averaging $32,386 per vehicle, according to a new Key Insights report from Edmunds.com.
This is almost $5,000 higher than the average transaction price of $27,561 in 2004.
Edmunds says: In the light of this new report, smart car shoppers will consider all of the factors involved, including monthly payments, interest rates and loan terms, before they head out to the dealership.