Your Own Set of Wheels: Don’t Get a Car Loan Before Studying These 5 Things

Posted on Aug 24 2018 - 6:51pm by Johnny B

Next to buying a home, purchasing a vehicle is one of the biggest investments you may ever make. But due to the price of cars, it isn’t feasible for everyone to pay in cash. That’s where auto loans come in. Before you consider signing for a car loan, you’re going to need to know some things, such as the following:

How much you can afford to pay each month

One of the most crucial steps in determining which auto loan would be best for you is finding out how much you would be able to spend on a monthly basis. The last thing you would want is to fall behind on payments. Doing so would only hurt your credit in the process and make things more expensive on your end.

Keep in mind how much you make on a monthly basis and what your monthly expenses add up to. A small chunk of what you have left after your expenses can go towards repaying your auto loan each month. This can help you decide what’s within your price range and what is not. Sometimes we over- or underestimate what we can afford.

Use this guide to help you decide what you can afford monthly for your auto loan.

Your credit score

It’s already clear that paying your auto loan back on time is important to upkeep your good credit. However, what is also important is knowing how applying for auto loans alone can affect your credit score.

Instead of applying for every auto loan in sight, apply for one every two weeks or longer. The reason this is important is because every time a lender verifies your credit, your score goes down a bit more. The more auto loans you apply for in a short period of time, the worse your credit will be. In turn, the harder it will be to get approved for a loan.

Whether or not you really need an auto loan that high

Many car buyers focus on one thing and one thing only: the end product (i.e., their new car). But can you truthfully say you can afford that car or even need it based on your current lifestyle? If you’re indecisive, the answer is probably no.

If you’re the type of person who prefers to get approved for a loan before you go car shopping, it is incredibly important that you are conservative with the amount you borrow. If you get approved for a $35,000 auto loan, how much are you going to spend on your car? Likely the whole $35,000 because the focus is on the car, not the money.

But getting approved for an auto loan that’s lower may be the very thing you need to ensure you don’t purchase a vehicle beyond what you can afford. That said, always consider, “Is the auto loan amount I’m requesting too much? Can I ask for lower and still be able to purchase a vehicle that meets my basic needs?”

The other options at hand

Before you get an auto loan from anywhere, keep in mind that there are many places you may be able to receive a better loan. Consider the many sources you have to pick from: big banks, credit unions, dealerships, or even online lenders. Each have their pros and cons. One auto loan source that may be beneficial for one may not be for another.

If you take the time to visit, you can also find significant information on loans or even obtain an auto loan from this source. You can use their loan calculator to determine how much you will pay monthly and what your estimated APR rate may be.

The fine print

Before you sign any paperwork, always take the time to read what you’re getting into, auto loans included. If something in the paperwork doesn’t make sense to you, always ask for clarification. Otherwise, you may end up getting yourself in a mess later on.

Always be sure to especially read the parts of the paperwork regarding interest rates, fees, penalties for paying late, and so on. If this is your very first loan, a wise idea would be to bring someone with you – a parent or friend – to help educate you through the process. It’s okay to be naïve or confused. As long as you learn, that’s all that matters.


Getting an auto loan can be a great first step in ensuring you can get the vehicle you have been eyeing for some time. Although, an auto loan is much more complex than just getting approved and then getting to purchase the vehicle of your dreams. Applying for an auto loan involves knowing your limits and being cautious through the process.