Vehicle Loans Calculator in United States

Vehicle Loans Calculator

Before buying a car, you should calculate your monthly vehicle loan payment. Awareness regarding this issue will give confidence in negotiating with the borrower and allow you to choose the most favorable loan terms.

Vehicle Loans

Most car buyers use vehicle loan services. This is a common secured loan provided by a financial institution for a period of 36 to 60 months. The borrower undertakes to pay part of the principal and interest on a monthly basis.

Important! According to the law, in case of non-fulfillment of debt obligations, the vehicle can be impounded.

What is the Difference between Financing Dealerships and Direct Lending?

Buyers are offered two options for vehicle loans: direct or financing through dealers. Direct lending is an ordinary loan borrowed from a bank, credit union, or other financial institution. The funds received in this way will be paid for the car after the contract with the dealer is concluded.

In case of a dealership financing, the situation is similar, but the difference is that the paperwork for the loan is initiated and completed directly at the dealership. Such financing is usually provided by dependent lenders linked to each car brand.

Reference! A dealer is the holder of the debt contract, but the practice of selling contracts to banks or other financial institutions is widespread. When they become legal successors to a debt obligation, they end up servicing the loan.

Dealer financing becomes a service of choice if the buyer wants to save time or if it is not possible to utilize direct lending.

Important! Vehicle manufacturers often initiate favorable terms of lending through dealers to increase sales. Those who want to buy a new car should start by looking for loans from manufacturers. Thus, you can seek a deal with very low interest rates from 0 to 2.9 %.

How Does the Vehicle Loan Calculator Work?

The buyer can not accurately calculate the monthly payment for a vehicle loan in advance, but even a rough estimate will help to compare the offers of creditors.

Reference! Online calculators, which are located on the websites of financial organizations, will allow you to determine the monthly payment fairly accurately and compare the amounts in case the loan terms change.

To use the service, you need to fill in the empty fields of the loan calculator with the following numbers:

  • car price;
  • down payment amount;
  • trade-in amount (the cost of a car intended for trade-in), if any;
  • interest rate (you can enter and make calculations with different rates, evaluating and comparing monthly payments);
  • payment terms (several payment options with different terms will allow you to choose the best one).

After filling in all the required values, the calculator will show your monthly payment. By changing down payment values, interest rate or the terms of lending, you can choose an optimal amount of payments.

How Can I Estimate Interest Rates?

If you know your credit rating, you can roughly estimate probable offered interest rates.

Likely interest rates when buying a new car based on average rates:

  • super-prime credit score holders (781-850) may claim the rate of 3.65 %;
  • prime (661–780) 7.65 %;
  • nonprime (601–660) 7.65 %;
  • subprime (501–600) 11.92 %;
  • deep subprime (300–500) 14.39 %.

Lower interest rates are offered for new cars, rather than for used vehicles.

How Do I Find Out the Real Cost of a Car?

A starting point for the cost of a new vehicle can be the price tag on the car (MSRP). Almost always, the buyer can count on a discount from this amount. Manufacturers' discounts will also contribute to price reduction. Payment for options and “destination fee” should be included into the purchase price.

Reference! To stimulate consumer demand, car manufacturers offer additional discounts. In some states, these discounts are taxable, and in some states, they are not.

In the first case, the situation will look like this: if the price of a car is $40,000 with a discount of $3,000, the sales tax will be calculated based on $40,000, not $37,000. However, in a significant number of states, discounts are not taxed.

How Can I Predict the Cost of a Used Car?

When buying a used car, it is more difficult to estimate the real purchase price. You should start with the price set by the seller. In this situation, bargaining is appropriate.

Reference! To get an idea of the “fair” price, use the online price guide or view local ads for similar cars.

How Can I Estimate the Trade-in Price?

To get an idea of the trade-in price, browse the Internet. Online sites offer evaluation services and pricing assistance.

Important! In the price guide, it is important to find information about the trade-in price, not the retail price (the price at which the dealer offers a car).

At your local Car Max, you can get cash deals. Similar services are provided by Vroom and Carvana online services.

Sales Tax and Fees Should Be Taken Into Account When Buying a Car

When purchasing a car, the buyer is required to pay state and local sales taxes, a documentation fee (which is very variable) and pay for registration services.

Reference! To estimate the cost of services in a particular region, you can use an Internet search engine or call the dealership.


The cost of buying a car consists of the purchase price and commissions, which are included in the vehicle loan financing or paid in advance. Buyers with low credit ratings have to pay fees in advance.

Commissions related to car purchases in the United States are as follows:

  1. Most states have a sales tax. Five states, namely Alaska, Delaware, Montana, New Hampshire, and Oregon do not charge sales tax.
  2. Documentation fee. Dealers set the price for processing documents of title and registration in the range of $150 to $300.
  3. The cost of title and registration fees is $300.
  4. Advertising fee. This is the dealer’s expenses for the promotion of this car. More often they are included in the price of the car and amount to several hundred dollars.
  5. Destination fee is the cost of delivering a car from the factory to the dealership. Ranges from $600 to $1000.
  6. Insurance in the United States is strictly mandatory and is issued before other documents. When buying a car on loan, full coverage insurance is obligatory (for the whole loan period). The amount can be more than $1000. Many dealers offer to initially apply for short-term insurance (for 1-2 months).

When using the loan calculator in a situation where the commission will be paid out of the vehicle loan, select the option “Include all commissions in the loan”.

If, in addition to the above, the car dealer requests to pay any other commissions, it is reasonable to demand to justify their necessity.

When deciding to enter into commitments, you need to consider the following factors:

  • your monthly payment should not exceed 15 % of your income;
  • an ideal loan term is at least 72 months;
  • it is advisable to make a down payment of 10 % or use GAP insurance.

You should definitely prepare for a meeting with sellers and creditors by evaluating your capabilities and getting a rough estimate of the purchase conditions that are comfortable in each specific situation.