Why It's Better to Get a Shorter Term Car Loan
You should aim for a car loan with a term of 48 months (4 years) or less. The shorter the time-frame, the more money you will save on interest costs.
If you can afford the higher monthly payments on a 2 year loan, that's your best option - but realistically, most car buyers will need to get at least a 36 month loan.
A 5 year car loan should be the maximum time frame you consider. If you can only afford payments by extending the loan to 6 years or more, you should be looking for a less expensive vehicle or be willing to wait 3 to 9 months while saving money for a larger down payment.
On a typical $20,000 car loan financed at 7% interest, you will save over $3,000 in interest if you opt for a 2 year loan versus a 6 year loan. The following table shows the amounts you save when comparing different loan terms:
|2 yr||3 yr;||4 yr||5 yr||6 yr|
|2 yr||$0||+ $734||+ $1,503||+ $2,271||+ $3,063|
|3 yr||-$734||$0||+ $769||+ $1,537||+ $2,329|
|4 yr||- $1,503||- $769||$0||+768||+$1,560|
|5 yr||- $2,271||- $1,537||-$768||$0||+ $792|
|6 yr||- $3,063||- $2,329||- $1,560||- $792||$0|
Many car dealers will try to pressure you into extended-term loans, especially if they feel you can't afford the monthly payments on a shorter loan.
Just remember that you'll be paying a lot more over the long-run when you stretch out your car loan. To top it all off, the longer you extend the car loan, the longer you will be upside-down on your car - meaning you will owe more than what the car is worth.
3 Steps Every Car Buyer Needs to Take to Save Maximum MoneyThe key to getting the best deal is to gather price or lease bids from as many local dealers as possible. Then shop that best price around until no one can beat it. Here are the steps:
Step 1 Get Prices From My Trusted NetworkSelect the vehicle you're interested in to see if there are local dealers in my network who will provide you with their best upfront price. You will get direct access to an internet sales manager who you can further negotiate with online (no need to visit dealership).
Step 2 Get Prices From TrueCar / CarsDirectTrueCar, and CarsDirect are my top 2 online price quote recommendations. These services show you pre-negotiated prices from dealers closest to you - and the deals are usually pretty decent. But remember, you can still negotiate further.
Step 3 Complete my ChecklistFollow this up with my checklist to make sure you squeeze out every last bit of savings.
- Gregg Fidan
Each week, I'll keep you up-to-date on the latest car deals and news that might affect your purchase. This includes...
- Best Rebates, Incentives, and Lease Deals
- Latest Car Buying Scams and Tricks
- The Best & Worst Time to Buy a Car
- Which Cars You Should Avoid