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Auto Loan Comparison Calculator

Whether you are shopping for a new or used vehicle, if you will be financing your purchase then a little research on how to structure your loan could save you thousands. Comparing two auto loans side by side lets you quickly see how changing the interest rate and/or the term of the loan leads to different monthly payments.

Compare Two Auto Loan Payments

Vehicle Cost$
Trade-in Equity$
Down Payment$

Loan #1

Loan #2
Interest Rate% %
Number of Months

Credit Union Auto Loan Comparison Calculator

  • Vehicle Cost: The total cost including agreed upon price, tax, title, and license. Depending on where you live, sales tax can add a significant amount to your purchase price.
  • Trade-in Equity: This is difference between what you owe on your trade-in and what the dealership is willing to pay you. This amount can be either negative or positive. A car with negative trade-in equity is referred to as "upside down" when the loan principal is higher than the value of the vehicle.
  • Interest Rate: The annual interest rate for each of the loans you want to compare. Comparing interest rates can show how much your payment can vary. Your financing costs increases quickly with a small increase in the interest rate. During the car buying process, remember that a small change in your monthly payment may not seem like a significant increase in the cost of the vehicle, but as the example below shows an extra $27 per month adds up to an effective 5.3% increase in the cost of the vehicle.
    Example of an Auto Loan with Different Interest Rates.
    $30,000 financed for 60 months.
    • Example 2.50% •• Example 4.50% •
    Monthly Payment: $532.42
    Interest Expense: $1,945.20
    Monthly Payment: $559.29
    Interest Expense: $3,557.40
    The higher interest loan would cost $1,612.20 more than the lower rate loan.

  • Down Payment: This is the amount of cash you will be applying toward the purchase of the vehicle. Applying a larger down payment can either lower your monthly payment or shorten the term of the loan. Either way, you will save interest expense the more you put down.
  • Number of Months: Compare the term of the loan to see how much your monthly payment changes. While choosing fewer number of months will increase your monthly payment, you will pay less interest over the life of the loan. A shorter term also helps you build equity in your vehicle in the event you trade it in before you finish paying off the loan. As the example below shows a larger monthly payment will get you out of debt quicker. The longer term loan is equivalent to an effective 3.7% increase in the cost of the vehicle.
    Example of an Auto Loan with Different Number of Months.
    $30,000 financed with a 3.50% interest rate.
    • Example 36 Months •• Example 60 Months •
    Monthly Payment: $879.06
    Interest Expense: $1,646.16
    Monthly Payment: $545.75
    Interest Expense: $2,745.00
    The longer term loan would cost $1,098.84 more than the shorter term loan.

Financing Considerations

  • Credit Score / Credit Report: Your credit history will affect the interest rate offered on a vehicle loan. Contact your local credit union branch before car shopping if you have any dings on your credit report. Otherwise, once on the car lot a dealership might convince you to accept a higher interest rate than you might qualify for at the credit union.
  • Lease vs Purchase: Unless you plan on trading in your vehicle every 2-3 years, leasing is an expensive option for the average consumer. Leasing a vehicle means that you own nothing at the end of the lease term. You either need to finance the "residual value" of the vehicle or hand over the keys to the dealership, leaving you in the position of needing to purchase another vehicle.

Other Auto Expenses
Purchasing a vehicle is only the beginning of vehicle expenses. Through the years, other costs will contribute to the affordability of the car, truck, or SUV you buy.

  • Auto Insurance: Knowing the cost of your auto insurance before buying a vehicle will eliminate any surprises. Contact your current agent with the VIN of the vehicle you are considering. They will be able to provide you with a quote on your new insurance cost.
  • Auto Maintenance: Some vehicles can have surprisingly high maintenance and repair costs. Research the vehicle to see how the make and model you are looking at compares against similar vehicles.
  • Gas Mileage: Taking mileage into consideration can save you money down the road. When comparing 2 or more vehicles, compare the mileage difference between the vehicles. Knowing how many miles you typically drive in a year, you will be able to estimate how much more a lower mileage vehicle could cost you over a higher mileage vehicle.

Additional Resources

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