8 Things You Should Know before Applying for a Car Loan

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Buying a car is a significant investment whose expenses go beyond the vehicle’s price.

Some of these costs can take you by surprise if you aren’t ready. Be sure to do your research before visiting the dealer to ensure you’re making a wise investment decision.

When taking out a car loan, beware of the financing charges, which depend on the interest rate.

Understanding all the costs involved in purchasing a vehicle helps you determine the auto loan amount to apply for. Factor in all the other hidden costs of buying a car, including sales tax, title and registration fees, car insurance costs, dealership fees, fuel costs, and maintenance. Here are eight things you should know before applying for a car loan.

1. Know your credit score

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Your credit score plays a significant role in determining whether your auto loan will be approved. A good credit score translates to better loan terms, while low credit scores mean your car loan interest rates will be very high. Determine how much credit is required to buy a car, get a copy of your credit report and review it. If your credit isn’t favorable, improve it before shopping for a vehicle to save on interest costs. To boost your credit score, make your payments on time, bring late accounts to current, and pay your debts.

If you can’t wait to build your credit score, you can still access an auto loan with poor credit. However, you should be ready to pay higher interest rates. Consider shopping around for affordable loans such as nakedloans.com.au to lessen the interest rate burden.

Alternatively, look for a dealer who specializes in car buyers with poor credit or apply for an auto loan with a cosigner.

2. Beware of all the costs involved in buying a car

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Before applying for a car loan, it’s crucial to understand all the elements that help calculate the monthly car loan repayment. This helps determine if you can afford the amount while ensuring a wise investment. Beware of the car loan financing charges based on your interest rate. Your interest is defined by your loan terms, credit score, and the car type to want. Consider the sales tax, which varies based on where you live.

You can consult a tax authority or your dealer to know how much you’ll need as tax for accurate budgeting. You’ll also have to pay for the required title documents, registration plates, and vehicle registration. Additionally, you may have to cater to dealership fees, car insurance costs, and down payment. Familiarizing yourself with these costs enables you to shop for a car loan you can easily afford without hurting your finances.

3. Know the car loan documentation you need

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Lenders want proof that you’re a worthy credit risk and can repay the loan. Preparing the correct documentation in advance can help you get the loan faster when applying. A lender will require proof of identity, credit and banking history, proof of income, vehicle information such as purchase price, vehicle identification number (VIN), make, model, and year, and proof of residence. The lender will need the current vehicle registration if you’re trading in a car. You should also have proof of insurance and ensure it meets the lender’s requirements plus the state laws.

4. Determine your budget

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Looking at your income, you should prepare a budget to help you determine if you have enough income to apply for a loan. To ensure your budget can finance a vehicle, start by calculating your payment to income (PTI) and debt to income (DTI) ratios. To calculate your DTI, add all your existing loan repayments and bills plus an auto loan and insurance payments estimate, then divide the result by your pre-tax income to show how much you’ll have left after paying bills.

To get your PTI, take the sum of your car loan and insurance payment estimates and divide by your gross monthly income to get the amount for repaying the loan and insurance combined. The lower these ratios, the better. After determining your PTI and DTI, include all the costs of buying a car into your budget to avoid any miscalculations that could cost you dearly in the long run.

5. Shop for affordable car loans

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Now that you have a budget and a credit score to work with, you can start shopping around for favorable rates. You can consider credit union or bank auto loans, online lender loans, dealership financing, or other types of funding. Get quotes from three or four lenders to compare the loan terms to get the best deal suitable for your budget.

6. Apply for a car loan pre-approval

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A car loan pre-approval refers to a conditional approval where a lender declares their willingness to offer financing up to a particular price level to help you buy a car. This lets you shop around for vehicles with a guaranteed amount at hand, giving you a clear picture of your price level while letting dealerships know you’re ready to buy. While not each offers pre-approval, getting it gives you added security, so look for a loan with this option.

7. Decide whether to buy a new or used car

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Buying a new or used vehicle has its pros and cons. While a new car comes with a better warranty, the latest technology, and fewer repair and maintenance costs, it’s costlier than a used one and depreciates faster. Used cars require more repairs, and maintenance costs are high. Nonetheless, you can buy a certified pre-owned vehicle as it’s usually inspected to ensure it’s in good condition and may even have a warranty.

Deciding whether to buy a new or used car depends on price, insurance, depreciation, and technology. Ultimately, preference plays a crucial role in your choice. Weigh the pros and cons of each to help you make an informed choice.

8. Know your desired car specifications or features

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Knowing what you want in a car makes shopping and making a precise budget easier.

Different features come with varying price tags, so list your desired ones before looking into models. Your list may include safety features, color, sound system, and more. Decide whether to buy a diesel or petrol run car.


Vehicles are costly, and you may have to get car financing to buy yours. Consider these factors before applying for a car loan.