The dealer hands you the keys, you take the wheel and drive off the lot reveling in your shiny new vehicle purchase. What could be better?
Knowing you’ve made a great choice for your finances, as well as your driving wants and needs, could make it all the sweeter now and for the years to come.
That’s why it’s well worth using an auto finance calculator before you shop. Online tools such as RoadLoans’ affordability and monthly payment calculators give consumers a number of advantages as they search for their next car and the best financing arrangements.
Auto loan calculators will enable you to estimate:
- How much you may be able to spend on a car in total, taking into account any down payment and trade-in
- A monthly payment that fits your budget so you won’t have trouble paying off the vehicle
- The right loan duration so you can find a good balance between a comfortable auto payment and total interest charges
- How interest rates affect loan costs
Estimate a loan amount
Start by using the affordability calculator to get a better idea of how much you could spend overall. Enter a desired monthly payment, loan term in months, APR and down payment amount.
Please check the numbers
*APR is the Annual Percentage Rate or the cost of your credit at a yearly rate.
When adding the loan duration, you can see how a longer term increases the loan amount while a shorter period reduces it. Bear in mind that longer loans typically mean the borrower will pay more interest over the course of the contract.
What should you enter for APR? Annual percentage rates are affected by a range of factors, including a consumer’s credit history, and a look at average auto loan rates by credit score will provide a general reference. Even a one-point drop in your interest rate may offer a decent saving.
Lastly, a down payment can combine the trade-in value of your current car, if you have one, as well as cash you may want to add to it. Adding a figure to the down payment field will increase the estimated amount you have to spend on a car.
Here’s an example. A car shopper enters a monthly payment of $450 with a 60-month loan term, six percent APR and a $4,000 down payment, which is the value of their trade-in. The estimated amount they have to spend is $27,277. If the loan period is extended to 72 months, it increases to $31,153. Let’s say they have money saved and decide to put $2,000 cash on top of their trade-in, raising the down payment to $6,000. The affordability amount increases further to $33,153.
Calculate monthly payments
Similarly, enter loan amount, duration, APR and down payment into the car loan calculator, then adjust the values to gauge how your potential monthly payment changes.
Our car shopper likes the total amount of $27,277 but is now wondering what kind of auto payment they may get if they were to go with a shorter term so they could pay off the car quicker and save on interest.
Putting in $27,277 with a six percent APR, $4,000 down, and now 48-month term, the monthly payment rises to $547. What if they were to get a better interest rate? A three percent APR drops the car payment from $547 to $515 a month, which adds up to a much larger saving over time.
Get a preapproved loan and shop like a cash buyer
Having worked out a plausible price range for a vehicle and what sort of loan meets your needs, you’ll be able to visit the dealership with confidence. To give yourself even more control in the buying process, get approved for financing before you go. It takes a few minutes to complete RoadLoans’ short online application and you’ll receive a decision in seconds. If approved, you can shop like a cash buyer, already knowing your loan is in hand, and negotiate a great deal on your chosen car.