Facts About Credit


Vehicle loans are a part of the equation in the vast majority of new and late model used vehicle purchases. Interestingly, consumers will spend days shopping for vehicle prices, yet many do not shop for auto loans. Comparison shopping and pre-qualifying for an auto loan should be the first step you take when buying a car, not the last. Failure to do so can be costly, as financing is one of the most frequently missed car buying opportunities. An auto loan is a unique part of the buying equation and it requires that you focus on it as a seperate issue. Reduce your monthly payment by just $16.70 and you will save $1,000 (on a 60 month auto loan).

Loan Basics

There is no great mystery to auto loans, if you purchase new or late model used vehicles, you are quite familiar with them. Nonetheless, it is important to understand the main components of an auto loan. The five elements covered in this sub topic are the basic parts of an auto loan. Understanding them and how they relate to each other will help you to effectively shop for an auto loan.

Annual Percentage Rate (APR)

The Annual Percentage Rate (APR) is a yearly rate of interest that includes all of the fees and expenses paid to acquire the loan. Federal law requires lenders to disclose the APR. The APR is essentially the ONLY rate you will need to compare one loan (of the same length) with another, because it includes all of the costs associated with acquiring the loan. This makes it very easy for anyone to compare most loans.

Down Payment

The down payment is the total amount of money that the borrower puts down towards the purchase of a vehicle at the time of purchase and origination of the loan. This does NOT include any credits for trade-in equity or rebates and incentives.

NOTE: The down payment is credited to reduce the final sales price of the vehicle AFTER it has been adjusted to reflect taxes, trade-in equity or any other expenses. Many people forget to factor this in when developing a budget and other additions are made to it -- the principal, NOT to the final sales price.

Interest Rate

The interest rate is a part of the APR equation. Interest is the annual rate of return that the lender receives on the Principal of the loan.

Loan Term

Loan Terms can be 36, 48, 60, 72 or 84 months.


The amount of the auto loan, without the interest factored in. In other words, the amount you are financing, the amount that you WILL be paying interest on. This is arrived at in the following way.

Determine the vehicles final sales price: ADD all relevant fees (taxes, titling obligations, trade inequity, etc.) SUBTRACT amount of down payment (if applicable) SUBTRACT any trade-in equity (if applicable) SUBTRACT any rebates or incentives (if applicable)

The number that you reach after this process will be the principal. This process may vary slightly from province to province, based on how the final sales price is determined for provincial (vehicle) sales taxes. MOST provinces tax on the sales price prior to any reductions (the highest amount). SOME provinces will allow the final sales price to be reduced by equity of the trade to PRIOR to determining the (vehicle) sales tax.