If you’ve found the new-to-you car of your dreams but don’t have the cash to pay for it in full, financing is the solution. In this post we’ll go over everything you need to know so you can secure the right kind of auto financing for your vehicle and your bottom line.
How car financing works
Taking out a car loan eliminates the stress of coming up with a large sum of money all at once. However, it also adds another monthly payment to your budget, so it’s important to understand the ins-and-outs of car financing before looking at the different lending options.
Your monthly car loan payments are calculated using three elements: principal, term and interest rate.
Principal is the total cost of the vehicle, including any fees the lender or dealership may have for the car loan and any add-ons you choose.
Term is the length of time that payments will be made on the loan — typical terms range from 36 months to 72 months.
Interest rate is the percentage the lender is charging you to borrow money.
Fixed rate loans offer predictability because the interest rate stays the same throughout the term of the loan. If you’re less concerned with fluctuations and want to benefit from times when interest rates are lower, you can opt for a variable rate loan.
Borrowing for new and used cars
New and used cars get treated differently by lenders for a few reasons. For starters, new cars have a higher sticker price than pre-owned cars. While this usually means buyers can cash-in on incentives like rebates or 0% financing for a certain period, it also means loan payment terms will be longer and monthly premiums will be higher. Also, new cars are usually more expensive to insure.
Used cars, on the other hand, cost less to purchase. They do, however, require more upkeep than new cars and interest rates on pre-owned vehicles are usually higher — especially if you don’t have much for a down payment or have less than stellar credit.
Check out our post for things to consider when deciding whether to buy a new or used car.
Ways to finance a used car
There are two main ways to secure a car loan in Canada: through a financial institution or directly through a dealership. Each route has its advantages and it’s a good idea to shop around to ensure you’re making the best decision for your financial situation.
Before applying for any loan, it’s a good idea to check your credit rating and determine your budget. Whether high or low, your credit rating will dictate the interest rate on your loan; knowing your budget will help you figure out how much you can afford for monthly payments. If your monthly payments are more than your budget allows, you run the risk of defaulting on your loan and damaging your credit rating.
Figuring out your budget can also help you decide how much you’re able to put forward as a down payment — a larger down payment often translates to lower rates because you’ll be borrowing less.
Now, let’s get into the differences between bank financing and dealership, or in-house, financing.
Method 1: Bank Financing
If you have a good credit rating securing a used car loan through a bank or credit union might be the right choice for you. Getting a loan through your current financial institution can be a convenient option since all of your finances are in one spot. If you’re an established customer, your bank might even offer you a discount on interest rates or fees and most banks are open to negotiating the terms of your payment period.
However, because of their stricter rules and regulations, banks will only grant loans to customers with favourable credit — even for pre-owned vehicles. So, if you have a low credit rating you might not get approved.
Some banks are wary of granting loans for used cars because they depreciate in value quickly. It’s a good idea to ask about the financing options for the specific make and model of the car you’re interested in.
It can also take longer to get approved through the bank, so you might be stuck waiting several business days to find out if your loan application has been accepted.
Method 2: In-House (Dealer) Financing
The second option is to get financing directly from the dealership you’re buying a car from. The main advantages of in-house financing are speed and flexibility.
Because the application and approval process is a lot quicker, many dealerships are able to offer same-day financing. That means you can take a test drive in the morning and drive your new (or new-to-you) car off the lot by the afternoon. This way you won’t have to worry about someone else snatching up the used car you fell in love with while you’re waiting for financing to come through.
Dealerships offer significantly more flexibility for borrowers with less-than-stellar or non-existent credit (as is the case with students or new Canadians). If you have poor credit or have gone through a bankruptcy, shopping for a vehicle can be frustrating and disappointing. In-house financing can help get you into the car you want, even if you’ve been previously turned down for a loan through your bank.
At Birchwood Credit Solutions, we look beyond our customers’ credit rating. Once you apply for financing, our team will review your whole financial situation and work with you to pick an appropriate budget and payment options. We can even offer you help and advice on how to repair your credit rating.