Delinquent auto loans, those more than 60 days past due, are on the rise. According to credit reporting agency TransUnion, they ballooned 8.9 percent in the fourth quarter of 2008 when compared with the same period a year earlier. While glancing at the Detroit News headline would lead most to think delinquencies are now in double-digits nationwide, the actual default rate has risen to just .86 percent (up from .79 percent) – yeah, less than 1 percent (as optimists at Autoblog, we like to applaud the more than 99 percent of customers who are able to pay on time).

The states with the highest delinquencies are Mississippi (1.62 percent), California (1.46 percent), and Louisiana (1.37 percent). On the other end, those with low delinquencies – and most likely to be paying on time – are found in Alaska (.19 percent), North Dakota (.34 percent), and Wyoming (.41 percent). If there is good news to be found in the report from TransUnion, it is that the average outstanding auto debt fell from the prior year – a direct reflection of owners holding their cars longer and credit tightening on new purchases.

[Source: Detroit News]