Auto loans increasing significantly

While the economy has continued to struggle in recent months, the number of auto loans has grown.

According to a recent report by Equifax, the number of new car loans during the first six months of this year was up 15 percent compared to 2010. In June alone, more than 1.7 million auto loans were issued, which is up 11 percent from June 2010 and just off of the 2011 high of 1.8 million set in March.

"Auto lending continues to be one of the most promising lending sectors today based on the data," said Michael Koukounas, senior vice president of special client services for Equifax. "If this momentum can be maintained through the remainder of the year, 2011 year-end totals should reflect a comparable return to normalcy to pre-recession lending levels."

However, auto lenders continued to turn to borrowers with better credit scores. More than 90 percent of loans went to buyers with scores above 600.

Having a stronger credit score can result in significantly lower interest rates when getting an auto loan. According to data from Experian, prime borrowers received an average interest rate of 4.82 percent during the second quarter of this year. Subprime borrowers received an average rate of more than 10 percent.