Late pays drop credit score 100 points

Percent sign on windshield

The typical consumer who's missed one or more car payments has a credit score that's 98 points lower than someone who's made every payment on time.

A study by Experian, one of the three major credit reporting agencies, says the average credit score for consumers with no late auto payments is 703, while the average score for consumers with at least one late payment is 605.

That saddles those car buyers with the worst possible, subprime credit rating.

They'll have a more difficult time obtaining another loan, and will have to accept more onerous terms and higher interest rates when they do get one.

If you've ever been late with a car payment -- and Experian says 12% of consumers have such a blemish on their record -- your credit has suffered.