WASHINGTON, D.C. — The average interest rate on new-vehicle loans at auto finance companies hit an all-time low of 3.17 percent, according to the Federal Reserve this week.

As a comparison, unless the latest preliminary statistic is a Federal Reserve typo, the closest this figure has ever come to being this low was in the first quarter of 2008 at 4.85 percent, based on available records. 

In January, the statistic stood at 8.23 percent, and in December it was 8.42 percent.

The average maturity level on these loans has also continued to drop, reaching 59 months in February, which is also the lowest this figure has been since 2004. This number came in at 59.3 percent in January, which is the second lowest since 2004.

Meanwhile, the median amount financed at auto finance companies has climbed to $26,268, compared with $22,922 in January and $22,769 in December.

Looking at loan to value, the Federal Reserve discovered that this figure remained at 86 in February, which is where it stood in January. In December, this number was at 85.

As for 48-month new-car loans at commercial banks, the average interest rate was 6.92 percent in February. This figure is not available for January or December. However, for the fourth quarter of last year, the number came in at 7.06 percent.

Overall, the Federal Reserve said, "Consumer credit decreased at an annual rate of 3.5 percent in February 2009. Revolving credit decreased at an annual rate of 9.75 percent, and non-revolving credit increased at an annual rate of 0.25 percent."