Car loan approvals were off sharply in California this year

Auto dealers and prospective car buyers have been wailing about tight credit. Now, new numbers explain their pain.

Californians receiving approval for new-vehicle loans in three credit categories – prime, near-prime and subprime – dropped sharply in the Jan. 1 to Sept. 20 period compared with last year, according to Bandon, Ore.-based CNW Research, one of the nation's top auto industry tracking firms.

"Even a prime customer is having a significantly harder time getting a loan approval," said Art Spinella, president of CNW.

CNW said 76.3 percent of prime auto loan applications in California were approved in the January-September stretch, down from 89.4 percent in the same time period in 2007. Borrowers in the prime category have the highest credit ratings.

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