How to Save Money on Your Car Payment

By Zach Bowman
No one likes to spend more cash than they have to, especially when it comes to making your vehicle’s loan payment. The good news is that with a little work, you just might be able to take a big bite out of what you have to pay. Whether you’re just now looking to buy or already have your ride halfway paid off, DriverSide’s list of ways to lower your car payment can go a long way toward putting a little extra cash in your pocket.
 
Make the biggest down payment possible
 
This may seem like common sense, but some buyers fail to realize the more they put down, the less they’ll have to borrow. Let’s say you put down $8,000 instead of $5,000. That’s $3,000 you don’t have to pay interest on, and at 7.6 percent interest, that’s $228 you don’t have to shell out. Less borrowing means less interest you have to pay to a lender, keeping all that change for yourself.
 
Sell your old car
 
It’s always tempting to simply trade in your old car instead of selling it yourself, but doing so is a guaranteed way to get less out of your vehicle. It may take a little extra work, but selling your car individually can put thousands of extra dollars toward your down payment, lowering your monthly bill in the process. For example, say you have a 2003 Toyota Camry with 90,000 miles. Your average trade in value is around $6,700, while retail is closer to $9,300. That’s a serious difference.
 
Buy certified pre-owned
 
Have your heart set on the latest and greatest model? Odds are that with a little searching you can dig up a great certified pre-owned car with all the class and prestige of a newer one without a hefty price tag. New cars can lose up to 40 percent of their value in the first year, so it makes sense to let someone else lose all that money instead of you. It really is the best way to get the most for your money.
 
Shop lenders
 
Don’t be afraid to do some shopping around. There are plenty of lenders out there both locally and online, and some may be able to offer you a better rate than the dealership or your local bank. It may seem like a lot of work for a couple of percentage points here and there, but just remember 2 percent on $30,000 is a serious chunk of change. Just make sure to do your homework and read everything carefully. The last thing you want to do is get stuck with a loan you won’t be comfortable with later.
 
Adjust the terms of your loan
 
If you’re the type of person who’s happy to hold onto a car or truck for years and years, adjust the terms of your loan accordingly. The longer the term of your loan, the less your monthly payment will likely be. Be careful, though, you could end up upside down on your loan – owing more on the vehicle than it is actually worth. 
 
Talk to your lender
 
Looking to save some cash on the loan you already have? Take the time to talk to your lender. If you have a good credit history and have kept up with your loan payments, there’s a good chance they’ll be willing to work with you to get a lower monthly payment.
 
Refinance
 
If talking to your lender doesn’t work out, shop around for another loan. Interest rates have rarely been better than they are right now, and odds are you can come up with a new loan that will suit your financial situation better than the old one.

 


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