The ABCs of Auto Finance

Car loans were created for the same purpose as with any expensive items–to help average people, or those without large sums of money, to be able to purchase these items. The consumer could put up a small amount of capital, and establish ownership of the item, and then a lender would hold a secured note for the remaining balance, under certain terms. The most important parts of the terms include loan amount,interest rate, payment, and duration or ammortization of loan. So, I’m getting a $10,000 loan, at 9% interest, with a monthly payment of $207.58, and the loan is for 5 years. Make sense? Good, we’ll come back to this. Understanding terms is extremely important- how can you know your getting a good deal without understanding the terms?

If your feeling overwhelmed, don’t worry, we are here to clear up your confusion and arm you with everything you need to make wise decisions. Just relax and read on…

Here’s some History…

Cars became more and more expensive over the last several decades, so, naturally, more and more people needed to use financing to enable there vehicle purchases. This worked out for the banks and other financial institutions because they could make a lot of money producing and holding these notes.

Decades ago, the process was fairly simple. You’d shop around with banks for the best interest rate, borrow the money from them, go to the dealership, and pick out your new car. At some point large car manufacturers realized how much money the lenders or banks were making, and decided to try and cash in themselves. So what did they do?

The big names in car manufacturing decided to create a lending system so they could provide their own loans. In this way, their dealerships could offer their own in-house financing to car buyers. They would make the money from the purchase, as well as the interest on the loans, and sell more cars because of the convenience of offering financing. This system is still very common today.

In recent years, due to the widespread use of the internet, consumers are more commonly going on-line for their auto financing needs, using consumer sites like AutoFinanceReview.com [http://www.autofinancereview.com]. This puts the consumer in control, and people are increasingly favoring this route. More on this later…

So, let’s talk a bit more about dealerships…

Your at the dealership and have picked out a car. Let’s use Car Max auto finance as an example. Car max will want to first figure out how much you can afford to pay monthly. You will then be asked to fill out an application. This application includes all of your info, including income, credit history, residence, and employment history.

Most dealerships will then review your application information, and match you with one of their lenders for financing. They generally have a database of lenders to choose from. Some of the lenders only service loans for buyers with great credit. Some specialize in servicing loans for buyers with bad credit. The idea is, most credit profiles can be matched with a lender, unless your credit is really terrible! Your credit score however will directly effect the terms of your loan. Most importantly, it will effect the auto loan interest rate. Generally, credit scores and interest rates are inversely proportional. What? This just means that the higher the credit score, the lower the rate. The lower the credit score, the higher the rate. Basically, lenders are all about balancing risk. If you have poor credit, they will want to balance that risk with a higher interest rate. Understand? Good.

Regardless of which lender ends up servicing your loan, the dealer still gets paid for their car, by the lender. Additionally, the dealership is able to tack on a few “points”. “Points” refers to percentage points, and these are often added to the deal by the middle-man. The dealer is the middle man between you and the lender, and the dealer is basically charging you for the service. The percentage points are calculated as a one-time amount and added to the sales price. So you can see this as a system is all-around profitable for the dealers. We mentioned this before, but this is why it is smart to go on-line and more and more consumers are doing just that for their financing needs.

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