Auto Loan Calculator

Using our auto loan calculator, you can estimate your forthcoming vehicle’s monthly car payments. By inputting key factors such as car price, loan term, down payment, and interest rate, among others, you’ll obtain a clear comprehension of how each variable may impact your monthly payment.

Additionally, modifying these factors within the calculator will provide a detailed analysis of how they alter your payment and total interest. This valuable tool delivers precise insights that can facilitate an informed decision for your next vehicle purchase, so don’t hesitate to initiate the calculation process now.

Current Auto Loan Rates for March 2023

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Auto Loan Tips

Prepare for Additional Costs

When shopping for a car and applying for an auto loan, it's essential to consider the additional costs associated with car ownership.

These expenses include insurance, maintenance, registration fees, and taxes. Make sure to factor these costs into your budget to avoid any surprises down the road.

A Longer-Term Loan Might Not Be Worth It

To lower monthly payments, many people opt for long-term auto loans. Nevertheless, in light of the accumulation of compounding interest over time, this strategy could bring about elevated overall expenses in the long run.

In order to avoid the potential for future financial remorse, it is imperative to conduct a meticulous evaluation of the loan’s term and analyze the total cost, inclusive of any relevant fees and interest charges, prior to committing to the loan agreement.

Consider Refinancing Your Current Car Loan

If you already have a car loan, it's worth considering refinancing if your credit score has improved or if interest rates have dropped since you took out the loan.

The act of refinancing may equip you with diverse benefits, such as securing a lower interest rate, decreasing your monthly payments, or shortening your loan term. Nevertheless, it is important to take into account any prepayment penalties or fees associated with refinancing before determining whether or not you should refinance your current car loan.

What is an Auto Loan?

An auto loan is a type of financing provided by banks, credit unions, or other financial institutions to help individuals purchase a new or used vehicle.

The borrower agrees to repay the loan, along with interest, in monthly installments over a specified term.

Auto loans are a form of secured lending where the vehicle acts as collateral against the borrowed amount. In the case of missed or delayed payments towards the loan, the lender possesses legal authorization to reclaim the vehicle as compensation for the outstanding balance.

There are two primary ways to obtain an auto loan. One option is via direct lending, allowing borrowers to interact directly with the lender to negotiate favorable terms.

The second option is dealership financing, whereby the dealership facilitates the loan by acting as an intermediary between the borrower and a network of lenders that they work with.

The interest rate, loan term, and other terms of the loan will vary depending on factors such as the borrower's credit score, income, loan amount, and the type of vehicle being purchased.

Terms Associated with an Auto Loan

Purchase Price

When referring to automobiles, the purchase price reflects the total cost agreed upon by the buyer, exclusive of any supplementary fees or taxes. Serving to illustrate the current state of the automotive market as for 2023, new and used cars have an average buying price that is summarized as follows:

  • 2023 average new car purchase price: $44,697

  • 2023 average used car purchase price: $40,000

Principal Amount

The principal amount is the total amount borrowed for the auto loan, which is determined by the purchase price minus the down payment.

Down Payment

A down payment is an upfront payment made by the buyer, which reduces the loan amount. For example, if a car's purchase price is $20,000 and you make a $4,000 down payment, the principal amount of the loan will be $16,000.

Loan Terms

"Loan terms" means the span allocated for the repayment of an automobile loan, commonly quantified in months. The standard range for auto loan terms is 36 to 72 months.

Determining the optimal loan term for an auto loan involves assessing the impact on both the monthly payment and the cumulative interest. Opting for a shorter loan term leads to increased monthly payments but ultimately results in lower interest charges over the life of the loan.

Conversely, a longer loan term reduces the monthly payment obligation but carries the trade-off of higher overall interest costs.

Interest Rate

The interest rate associated with an auto loan represents the cost of borrowing money from a lender. This rate is expressed as a percentage and is applied to the outstanding loan balance. As the borrower repays the loan, they are responsible for paying both the principal amount borrowed and the accrued interest. 

Experian currently reports that new car loans carry an average interest rate of 6.07 percent, while used car loans carry 10.27 percent. For a 72-month auto loan term, an interest rate below 4.07 percent for new cars and below 8.62 percent for used cars can be considered a good or advantageous rate, according to industry standards.

Interest rates significantly impact the monthly payment and total amount paid on an auto loan. A lower interest rate will result in a lower monthly payment and less overall interest paid over the loan term.

Trade-in Value

The sum offered by a dealership for your existing vehicle upon purchasing a new one is commonly referred to as the trade-in value. This value can then be put towards the down payment, thereby decreasing the principal amount of the loan, leading to potential savings over the course of the loan term.

For example, if you have a trade-in value of $6,000 on your current vehicle and the purchase price of the new car is $20,000, your loan amount would be reduced to $14,000. This could potentially lower your monthly payments and the overall interest paid over the loan term.

Fees Associated with an Auto Loan

Sales Tax

The sales tax is a statutory imposition by the government, levied as a percentage of the automobile’s purchase price. It fluctuates based on the geographical location (state or country) of your car purchase. To calculate the total cost of your car loan accurately, it is necessary to consider the sales tax.

Document Fees

Document fees, also known as doc fees, are charged by dealerships to cover the cost of preparing and processing the paperwork required for a vehicle purchase. These fees vary by dealership and state, so be sure to ask for a breakdown of the costs when negotiating the purchase price.

Title and Registration Fees

The title fees reflect the expenses incurred in transferring the legal ownership of the vehicle from the seller to the buyer, while registration fees are levied by the governmental agency that oversees the registration of the vehicle in the purchaser’s name.

It is noteworthy that these fees fluctuate, depending upon location, including state or country.

Advertising Fees

Some dealerships may include an advertising fee in the purchase price of the vehicle. This fee covers the cost of regional and national advertising campaigns conducted by the automaker. Be sure to ask the dealership if an advertising fee is included in the price and, if so, consider negotiating to have it removed or reduced.

Destination Fee

A destination fee is a standard fee assessed by automakers to offset the expenses related to transporting vehicles from manufacturing bases to dealerships.

This surcharge, commonly non-negotiable, is integrated into the vehicle’s Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP), reflecting the supply chain from production to distribution.


Insurance coverage is an obligatory expense that all vehicle owners must account for, affected by various factors inclusive of the driver’s age, driving record, geographical location, and the type of insured vehicle. 

In order to secure optimal rates and coverage suitable to one’s specific needs, it is advisable to conduct thorough research and comparative analysis among varied insurance providers prior to committing to any given policy.

Buy a Car vs. Lease a Car

When it comes to acquiring a new vehicle, there are two primary options: buying and leasing. Understanding the differences between these two options will help you make an informed decision based on your financial situation and lifestyle.

What is Leasing?

Leasing is a form of vehicle financing where you essentially rent a car for a specified period, typically 2-4 years.

Upon the expiration of the lease term, you may exercise the choice to either purchase the vehicle at a premeditated price or surrender it and commence a new lease agreement.

Typically, compared to loan payments, monthly lease installments are more economical, as they exclusively cover the depreciation cost of the vehicle throughout the lease term as opposed to the entire price of acquisition.

How to Decide Between Buying and Leasing

To determine whether buying or leasing is the right choice for you, consider the following factors:

  • Ownership: Upon purchasing a car, you gain ownership of the vehicle post-settlement of the loan and have the freedom to retain the vehicle for any duration you desire.
  • In contrast, when leasing an automobile, you never attain complete ownership of the vehicle and are obligated to return it at the end of the lease term unless you opt to purchase it at its residual value.

  • Monthly Payments: Lease payments are usually lower than loan payments because you're only paying for the vehicle's depreciation during the lease term. If you prefer lower monthly payments and driving a new car every few years, leasing might be a better option.
  • Mileage Restrictions:Annual mileage restrictions are commonly stipulated in lease contracts, usually spanning from 10,000 to 15,000 miles per year. Prolonged usage beyond the designated threshold incurs excess mileage charges levied on every additional mile.
  • Given this, individuals with high-mileage commutes or unpredictable travel schedules might consider purchasing a vehicle as a more prudent choice than leasing.

  • Wear and Tear: Lease agreements usually require you to maintain the vehicle in good condition, and any excessive wear and tear may result in additional charges. If you're concerned about potential damages or want to customize your vehicle, buying may be a more suitable option.
  • Long-term Costs: Opting for vehicle ownership may yield superior long-term value, especially if one intends to use the car beyond the loan repayment period. Conversely, leasing can entail an endlessly recurring stream of monthly payments sans the possibility of ownership upon each lease’s termination.

Dealership Financing vs. Direct Lending

When financing a vehicle, there are two primary options: dealership financing and direct lending. Understanding the differences between these options will help you make an informed decision about which method is best for your auto loan.

Dealership Financing

Dealership financing refers to the auto loan arrangement facilitated by the car dealership through its network of lenders, comprising banks, credit unions, or finance companies. The advantages of opting for dealership financing encompass:

  • Convenience: You can enjoy the convenience of purchasing the vehicle at a single location. By working through the dealership’s network of lenders, buyers can avoid the need to seek out separate financing from banks or other lenders, simplifying and streamlining the transaction.
  • Special Offers: Dealerships may have access to exclusive promotional offers, such as low-interest rates, cashback, or special lease terms, which may not be available through direct lending.
  • Multiple Lender Options: With their partnerships with multiple lenders, dealerships can provide customers with a series of financing options to choose from.

Direct Lending

Direct lending entails the acquisition of an auto loan directly from a financial institution, such as a bank, a credit union, or an online lender, devoid of the intermediary involvement of the dealership. The advantages of direct lending are as follows

  • Control: Direct lending allows you to negotiate the loan terms and interest rate directly with the lender, giving you more control over the financing process.
  • Preapproval: Direct lending allows you to secure pre-approval for a loan prior to a car purchase, enabling you to establish your financial limits and negotiate confidently at the dealership. This can simplify the transaction and help you avoid the risk of overspending or being misled by dealer financing offers.
  • Comparison Shopping: Direct lending allows you to shop around and compare interest rates and loan terms from multiple lenders, potentially helping you secure a better deal.

Vehicle Rebates

Vehicle rebates are incentives offered by automakers to encourage potential buyers to purchase a specific vehicle model.

Vehicle rebates take many shapes, including cashback incentives, low-interest financing, and unique lease agreements, among others.

Regardless of their form, these incentives serve the critical purpose of bringing down the cost of purchasing a new car, making it more feasible for consumers. Below are a few crucial points to consider when dealing with vehicle rebates:

  • Manufacturer Incentives: Rebates are usually provided by the vehicle manufacturer rather than the dealership. They may be available nationwide or regionally, depending on the automaker's marketing strategy.
  • Limited Time Offers: Frequently, vehicle rebates are accessible for a brief window of time, which usually coincides with seasonal sales events or the launch of new models. Therefore, be ready to take prompt action upon discovering an appealing rebate offer.
  • Eligibility: It is worth noting that certain rebates may come with specific eligibility requirements, including, but not limited to, being a first-time buyer, a recent college graduate, or a member of the military.
  • As such, scrutinize the terms and conditions of the rebate to ensure that you satisfy all the applicable criteria for eligibility.

  • Negotiating the Price: It's crucial to negotiate the best possible purchase price for the vehicle before applying any rebates. This will ensure you get the maximum benefit from the rebate offer.
  • Rebate vs. Low-Interest Financing: Certain vehicle manufacturers may provide customers with the option of selecting either a cash rebate or low-interest financing.
  • The right choice for you would depend on your personal financial situation and your assessment of the loan terms since one option may provide greater benefits than the other.

    To make a well-informed decision, it is recommended to determine the overall expense of each option and evaluate which will yield the greatest cost savings over the duration of the loan.

How to Lower Your Auto Loan Payments

Here are some strategies for lowering your monthly auto loan payments:

1. Make a Larger Down Payment: Making a substantial down payment on a vehicle purchase can effectively diminish the principal amount of the loan, thereby resulting in reduced monthly payments.

Consequently, saving up to amass a more significant amount of cash to put down on the car can prove to be a smart financial move, affording a more favorable and affordable monthly payment scheme.

2. Choose a Longer Loan Term: By extending the loan term for your car, you can reduce your monthly payments by dividing the total cost over a longer period. Yet, it is essential to note that an extended loan term will translate to a more considerable amount of interest paid overall.

This means that while you may enjoy lower monthly payments, you will ultimately pay more for the car in the long run. Be sure to consider this factor when determining the loan term that best aligns with your financial goals.

3. Improve Your Credit Score: A better credit score can help you secure a lower interest rate on your auto loan, which will reduce your monthly payments. Focus on improving your credit score by making timely payments on your existing debts, reducing your credit utilization, and fixing any errors on your credit report.

4. Refinance Your Loan: If interest rates have decreased or your credit score has improved after initially taking out an auto loan, it's possible to refinance the loan. This move could allow you to obtain a lower interest rate or an extended loan term, leading to reduced monthly payments.

Therefore, it's crucial to keep an eye on market rates and your credit score and use this information to evaluate whether refinancing your auto loan is a viable option.

5. Shop Around for the Best Loan Terms: Prior to committing to an auto loan, it is advisable to undergo a comprehensive evaluation of loan terms and interest rates offered by different lenders.

Such an approach can facilitate the identification of the most favorable deal available and potentially lead to the reduction of monthly repayment obligations.

6. Purchase a Less Expensive Vehicle: Opting for a more affordable car can help you reduce your monthly payments. Consider purchasing a used vehicle or a lower-priced new car to keep your auto loan payments manageable.


Car loans are a type of financial product offered by lenders, such as financial institutions or dealerships, that assist you in acquiring a vehicle.

When you accept a car loan, the lender provides you with the necessary funds to purchase the car, and simultaneously you commit to repaying the principal amount and the associated interest within a predetermined repayment period.

You can obtain a car loan from various sources, such as banks, credit unions, online lenders, or dealership financing. It's essential to shop around and compare interest rates and loan terms to find the best deal for your financial situation.

Generally, it is permissible to prepay a car loan ahead of the stipulated term. Nonetheless, some lenders may charge a prepayment penalty for early payment. Thus, it is imperative to thoroughly scrutinize the loan agreement for any such prepayment penalties or constraints.

The minimum down payment for a car loan varies depending on the lender's requirements and your credit score.

Different lenders may have varying policies regarding down payments for auto loans. While some lenders may grant loans without down payments, others may stipulate a down payment of between 10% to 20% of the car’s buying price.

Opting for a more substantial down payment can positively impact your finances by decreasing the monthly payments and the total interest paid over the loan term. Therefore, it’s advisable to evaluate your repayment abilities and make a well-informed decision regarding the down payment amount that suits your financial situation.

Various factors are involved in determining the Annual Percentage Rate (APR) for your auto loan. Among these are the borrower's credit score, the length of the loan term, the age of the vehicle, and prevailing interest rates in the market.

A borrower with a higher credit score typically benefits from a lower APR, as it reflects a reduced level of risk from the lender's perspective.

There is no specific credit score required to get a car loan, as different lenders have different requirements. However, a higher credit score will generally result in better loan terms and lower interest rates. Borrowers with lower credit scores may still be able to obtain a car loan but may face higher interest rates or more restrictive loan terms.

Dealers often prefer customers to finance through their dealerships because they can earn additional revenue from the financing process.

Dealerships fulfill the role of intermediary, deftly bridging the gap between lender and customer, an arrangement in which they may earn a commission or markup on the loan’s interest rate.

Additionally, choosing to finance through the dealership can yield the added benefit of streamlining the car-buying process for the customer, increasing the likelihood of a successful sale.

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