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Compare Car Finance Costs To Get The Best Deal
Thinking about buying a vehicle?
Before you go through the buying process, it's important to understand how car financing works.
Car financing is simply taking out a loan to finance your vehicle purchase. The borrower (you) pays back the loan with interest over a specified period of time.
Use the article below to understand the important details about how car financing works, and then use this Car Finance Calculator to compare offers from the various financing companies to get the best deal for your vehicle purchase.
Related: 5 Financial Planning Mistakes That Cost You Big-Time (and what to do instead!) Explained in 5 Free Video Lessons
How Does Car Financing Work?
There are various ways to finance vehicles.
Most car companies have their own financing departments that will help you apply for a car loan. Though the loan processing is much easier when your loan originates from the dealer where you bought the car, you also have the option to secure a loan from competing financial institutions.
Always be careful to understand all loan terms when borrowing money. Some financial institutions may charge more than the dealer or have unfavorable terms. Read the fine print before signing.
Remember, financing companies earn money from the interest you pay. The more interest and penalties they can legally charge you the more they earn.
Beware of trickery like charging low interest rates but then recovering the loss by adding hidden charges. The only way to uncover these deceptions and protect yourself is to be an educated consumer by reading the terms and conditions of your contract.
Can You Afford Car Financing?
Before you jump into financing, it's important to consider your options.
Our Budget Calculator shows transportation expenses can reasonably represent up 10 – 15% of your total budget.
Use this Car Finance Calculator to compare up to five different financing deals so that you can see which loan terms best suits your budget.
Don't worry if the results are higher than your budget allows – you can reduce your monthly payments by either trading in your old car, buying a less expensive car, or by simply increasing your down payment.
Key Points And Best Practices To Consider Before You Sign Up For Car Financing
In addition to using the Budget Calculator in conjunction with the Car Finance Calculator, consider these key points and best practices:
- Shop around for the best deal – There are often one or two lenders aggressively competing for your business by offering significantly better terms. Taking the extra time to gather all your options is usually time well spent.
- Compare buying versus leasing – Use the Lease vs. Buy Car Calculator and see which option saves the most money.
- Check your credit history – Your loan interest rate will depend on your credit score. If you have paid your past financial obligations on time, you will likely get a lower interest rate.
- Research and compare interest rates and other finance terms from banks and other financial institutions – It's important that you understand the agreement before you close a deal.
- Research carefully the vehicle you want to purchase – Make sure that your vehicle will fit your transportation needs and stick within the price range that is in your budget.
- Try to negotiate the terms of your loan – Inform your car dealer that you are also negotiating with other dealers so they will give you their best offer. Compare car offers using the Car Finance Calculator and check which deal offers more value for your money.
- Carefully evaluate other add-on products such as accessories, insurance, and extended warranties (which are optional) – These may be additional expenses that do not add much value for you. If you don’t need these products, make sure that they are not included in the car cost.
- Know that if you fail to make your monthly payments, your vehicle will be subject to repossession – The last thing you want is to see a tow truck haul your car away. Be very careful financing a vehicle and ensure you can make your monthly payments.
- Understand the terms and conditions of your contract before you sign – Remember that your obligation starts right after you sign the document.
If you can pay cash for a vehicle, do so because it will likely be your lowest cost option.
If you can't afford to pay cash then finance your car with caution by comparing all loan terms and conditions between competing lenders.
When you shop out your loan using the Car Finance Calculator it will help you get the best deal that fits your personal situation.
Car Finance Calculator Terms & Definitions
- Term – The number of months you need to pay your auto loan until it is fully paid off.
- Amount to Finance – The amount you need to pay your car dealer after deducting the trade-in allowance. This amount is excluding federal and state taxes.
- Interest Rate – The proportion of a loan that is charged as interest to the borrower, which is the fee for borrowing money.
- Interest – Money paid regularly at a particular rate for the use of money lent.
- Principal – The original sum lent, or the remaining balance on the loan.
- Financing – Providing funding for a person to buy a product, in this case, a car.
- Sales Tax Rate – A percentage of tax on sales or on the receipts from sales.
- Down Payment – The initial amount or the advance payment for your loan.
- Monthly Payment – The amount paid every month for the auto loan.
- Trade-in Allowance – The total amount that you are given for any automobile that you trade-in as part of your purchase.
Related Auto Loan Calculators:
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- Lease vs. Buy Calculator: Should I lease or buy?
- Car Lease Calculator: How much will a lease cost me?
- Car Cost Calculator: What is the true cost of ownership and driving for my car? How does the cost of one car compare to another?
- Car Rebate vs. Financing Calculator: Which dealer incentive is the best value – rebate or special financing?
- Auto Loan vs. Home Equity Calculator: Should I buy my next car using a conventional auto loan or home equity line of credit?