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Calculating your monthly auto loan payment before going to the car lot can boost your negotiating power and help you choose the best loan for your budget.
How to use the car loan calculator
While you can’t calculate your monthly car payment to the penny, having a good estimate will put you in the driver’s seat at the dealership and help you compare auto loan offers.
Here’s how to use the auto loan calculator and a look at the different numbers that will make up your car payment.
Car price: In this field, put in the price you think you’ll pay for the car after negotiations.
Trade-in and down payment: Enter the total amount of cash you’re putting toward the new car, plus the trade-in value of your existing vehicle, if any.
Interest rate: You can enter the rate you've qualified for or estimate your rate based on your credit score using the dropdown menu at the top of the calculator.
Number of months: Enter the loan term, or how long you plan to take to pay off the loan.
Results: There’s no need to search for a “calculate” button. Simply put in your numbers and the results will update immediately.
In addition to looking at the monthly payment result, be sure to face the cold, hard reality of how much you’ll pay in interest. If that’s not sobering enough, look at the total amount you'll spend on the car loan (this excludes the down payment).
By changing the trade-in or down payment amount, the interest rate or loan term, you’ll see how it impacts your car payment and total loan costs so you can compare offers.