Compare auto loans
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Estimate your monthly car loan payment
Use this auto loan calculator to estimate a monthly car payment and total loan cost based on information you input — such as vehicle price, interest rate, down payment amount, trade-in value, length of the loan, sales tax rate and registration fees.
You can change what you input to see how different factors will affect your car payment amount and total interest cost.
What you should know about auto financing
If you haven’t financed a vehicle before, it may help to have a quick overview of how car loans work. Most people can’t pay cash for a car or truck, and so they apply for an auto loan, usually at a bank, credit union, online lender or the car dealership. When you’re approved, the lender provides a lump sum of money to pay for the vehicle you’re buying. You receive the vehicle to drive, while at the same time making monthly loan payments until you fully repay the loan.
Different aspects of a car loan (some that you can control more than others) contribute to what you will pay monthly and over the life of the loan. Our car loan calculator is a tool to try different values and plan for what you will spend.
How to use the auto loan calculator
Here’s a description of the information you can input into this car loan calculator, some required and some optional.
Price of vehicle. Input the price you think you’ll pay for the car. To estimate a new car’s prices, start with the vehicle’s sticker price (also called the MSRP). Subtract any savings from dealer negotiations or manufacturer rebates. Then add extra costs, such as vehicle options and the “destination fee" charged on new cars.
For used cars, estimating the sale price is a bit trickier. You can start with the seller’s asking price, but you may be able to negotiate that lower. To get an idea of a fair price, use online pricing guides or check local online classified ads for comparable cars.
Interest rate. There are several ways to determine an interest rate to enter. If you get prequalified or preapproved for a loan, simply enter the rate you are offered. Otherwise, you can use the current average interest rate for your credit score.
This table uses Experian average car loan APRs by credit score (based on the VantageScore credit scoring model) and is a good guide:
Average APR, new car
Average APR, used car
Deep subprime: 300-500.
Source: Experian Information Solutions.
It's worth noting that when the Federal Reserve increases the federal funds rate, auto loan interest rates usually follow. Fed rate hikes that began in 2022 have pushed car loan interest rates to their highest level in years, but the average APR for new and used cars has remained fairly steady in 2023. Some sources provide average auto loan interest rates updated monthly, so the rates are more recent, but they aren’t broken down by credit score.
In September 2023, automotive site Edmunds.com listed the average car loan interest rate for August as 7.4% APR for new car loans and 11.2% APR for used car loans. Data company Cox Automotive gave the volume-weighted average rate as 9.61% for new cars and 14.03% for used cars in its Sept. 26 Industry Insights and Sales Forecast Call. Cox Automotive rates are sales-weighted averages based on information from Dealertrack, a software used by auto dealerships.
Number of months. Enter the loan term, or the length of time you have to pay off the loan. Car loans are usually in 12-month increments, with common terms being 24, 36, 48, 60, 72 or 84 months. NerdWallet recommends trying to go no more than 60 months, if possible. Longer terms will lower your monthly payment, but you will pay much more in interest overall.
Down payment (optional). Enter the total amount of cash you plan to put toward the car. Not all lenders require a down payment, but NerdWallet suggests putting down at least 20% of a new car's purchase price, or 10% for a used car. If you can't afford this amount, put down as much as you can without draining your savings or emergency funds. Putting any amount down will help lower what you finance and the total cost of the loan.
Trade-in value (optional). Enter the trade-in value of your existing vehicle, if any. You can use online sites for appraisals and pricing help. When using a pricing guide, make sure you check the trade-in value and not the retail cost (the price at which the dealer sells the car). You can also get cash purchase offers from online retailers such as CarMax, Carvana or Vroom to use as a baseline.
Amount owed on trade-in (optional). If you’re still paying on a loan for the vehicle you plan to trade in, enter the remaining balance here. This is the payoff amount, which can be provided by your lender.
» Ready to shop around? Compare lenders to find the best car loan rates
Next steps: Using car loan calculator results
The information you get from an auto loan calculator can be valuable in many different ways.
When comparing loan offers. You don’t have to take the loan offered by a dealership or online car retailer, and you can bring your own financing from a bank, credit union or other lender. Apply to several lenders for preapproved loan offers, but do it within a two-week timeframe to lessen any impact to your credit score. Using the auto loan calculator, enter interest rates and terms from the various loan offers to compare monthly payments and total loan costs. If you’re buying from a dealership, take the lowest-rate loan offer with you, to see if the dealer can beat it.
When deciding on a loan term. Lenders and car dealers often will reduce a monthly car payment by lengthening the loan term. While a lower payment may look great, an auto loan calculator can help you see total cost, and not just the monthly payment, with various loan terms.
For example, a car buyer considering a $40,000 new car loan with an 84-month term at 9% APR would have a monthly car payment of about $623 and pay $12,369 in interest over the seven-year loan. Shortening the term to 60 months would increase the monthly payment to $811, but it would reduce the total interest paid to $8,600.
To figure in additional expenses. Car buyers often don’t anticipate certain costs on top of the price of the car and loan — such as state and local taxes, dealer documentation fee (which can vary widely) and registration fees. Under Add Advanced Info, NerdWallet’s auto loan calculator enables you to capture these costs. To obtain estimates, you can search online, call your Bureau of Motor Vehicles or contact a dealership to ask for average costs in your area.
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Other NerdWallet auto calculators
While this auto loan calculator provides the basic information you’ll need to finance and buy a car, here are some other auto calculators you might want to try.
Auto loan amortization calculator. Auto loans use simple interest, so the portion of your loan payment that goes to interest changes each month. Use this calculator to estimate the balance of your simple-interest auto loan at any point during its term.
Auto loan refinancing calculator. If you already have an auto loan, see if you could save money by comparing your current loan with a new one.