Heading into the financial crisis, few would have predicted just how many Americans would give up on their mortgages but continue paying their car loans. In the years since, that surprising phenomenon helped fueled the rapid resurgence of subprime auto lending.

Today, many car buyers with marred credit histories are taking out longer loans at sky-high interest rates, spurring concerns about the formation of another bubble. Despite new scrutiny from the Justice Department and other agencies, investors keep gobbling up subprime auto-backed bonds.

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