Compare Auto Loan Rates and Estimate Payments with a Free Calculator

Getting a new car is exciting, but the process of applying for an auto loan can be stressful. How much will your monthly payment be? What loan terms should you choose? The best way to find out is by using a free online auto loan calculator to estimate payments and compare interest rates from different lenders.

Overview of Auto Loan Calculators

An auto loan calculator is an online tool that allows you to estimate your monthly car payment amount based on variables like the vehicle price, down payment, loan amount, interest rate, and loan term. It does the math for you by factoring in costs like taxes, fees, trade-in value, and more.

Auto loan calculators offer many benefits for car buyers:

  • Estimate payments – Calculate estimated monthly payments for any loan scenario to aid budgeting.
  • Compare loan terms – See how the loan length affects interest costs and monthly payments.
  • Compare rates – Input different interest rates from lenders to find the best deal.
  • Estimate trade-in value – Add trade-in details to see how it lowers the loan amount.
  • Preview sales taxes – Sales tax is calculated to factor into the total price and loan amount.
  • Include fees – Optional fees like extended warranties can be included to reflect total financing costs.
  • Modify down payment – Increase or decrease down payment amounts to fit your budget needs.

Having all these factors calculated upfront allows car shoppers to go into the buying process informed and empowered to get the best auto financing.

Top 10 Free Auto Loan Calculators

Many free auto loan calculator options exist online today. We’ve compiled the top 10 best calculators based on factors like accuracy, ease of use, customizable options, and mobile responsiveness.

1. Bankrate Auto Loan Calculator

Bankrate offers a user-friendly calculator with a sliding tool to visualize how loan terms affect monthly payments.

Key features:

  • Sliding graph shows impact of loan terms
  • Sales tax estimator
  • Insurance cost estimator
  • Trade-in estimator
  • Print, download, or email results

2. Auto Loan Calculator has a straightforward calculator with a clean interface.

Key features:

  • Minimal design is easy to navigate
  • Monthly sales tax estimator
  • Insurance cost estimator
  • Trade-in value estimator
  • Option for bi-weekly payments

3. CARFAX Auto Loan Calculator

The CARFAX calculator includes a loan affordability estimator.

Key features:

  • Loan affordability estimator
  • Sales tax calculator
  • Insurance cost estimator
  • Trade-in value estimator
  • Print or download results

4. Edmunds Auto Loan Calculator

Edmunds provides an intuitive calculator with extended options.

Key features:

  • Residual value estimator
  • Refinance calculator
  • Lease calculator
  • Sales tax calculator
  • Insurance cost estimator
  • Trade-in value estimator
  • Print, download, or email results

5. Kelley Blue Book Auto Loan Calculator

KBB gives instant payment estimates as you adjust variables.

Key features:

  • Payment amount updates in real-time
  • Sales tax calculator
  • Insurance cost estimator
  • Trade-in value estimator
  • Print, download, or email results

6. Chase Auto Loan Calculator

Chase’s calculator is easy to use with a slick design.

Key features:

  • Modern user interface
  • Adjustable down payment
  • Sales tax calculator
  • Insurance cost estimator
  • Trade-in value estimator

7. Capital One Auto Loan Calculator

Capital One’s calculator allows you to add details on warranties and GAP insurance.

Key features:

  • Add warranty costs
  • Add GAP insurance
  • Sales tax calculator
  • Insurance cost estimator
  • Trade-in value estimator

8. LendingTree Auto Loan Calculator

LendingTree provides multiple customizable fields.

Key features:

  • Customizable fields
  • Sales tax calculator
  • Insurance cost estimator
  • Trade-in value estimator
  • Print or download results

9. Credit Karma Auto Loan Calculator

Credit Karma’s calculator includes an auto refinance option.

Key features:

  • Auto refinance calculator
  • Sales tax calculator
  • Insurance cost estimator
  • Trade-in value estimator

10. CarsDirect Auto Loan Calculator

CarsDirect offers a basic, no-frills loan calculator.

Key features:

  • Simple interface
  • Sales tax calculator
  • Trade-in value estimator

Comparing the key features of the top auto loan calculators shows the variety of tools available to help shoppers make informed financing decisions. Most provide robust estimates for taxes and fees while accepting trade-in details. Look for a calculator with an interface and options that best fit your budgeting needs.

How to Use an Auto Loan Calculator

Using an auto loan calculator is straightforward. Follow these steps:

  1. Enter vehicle price – Research prices online for the specific car you want and use that amount.
  2. Input down payment – Decide how much you can pay upfront and enter that as the down payment. Shoot for 20% if possible.
  3. Add tax/fees – Use the calculator’s estimator to add sales tax and other fees.
  4. Input trade-in value – If you’re trading a car in, enter the estimated value to lower the loan amount.
  5. Select loan term – Choose loan duration in months. Longer terms have lower payments but higher interest costs.
  6. Enter APR – Get pre-approval from a lender to estimate actual interest rate, or start with the average APR.
  7. View monthly payment – The calculator displays estimated monthly payment for the scenario.
  8. Change variables – Play with the inputs like down payment and loan term to fit your budget.
  9. Compare lender rates – Input different APRs from lenders to find the best deal.

Using the auto loan calculator as an early step in the buying process will provide you with the key data to make an informed financing decision before visiting dealerships.

6 Factors That Influence Monthly Payments

Many variables affect the monthly payments on an auto loan. Being aware of these key factors allows you to use the auto loan calculator most effectively.

Vehicle Price

The total price of the vehicle itself is the biggest factor determining the monthly payment amount. New cars that are $30,000+ typically mean much higher monthly payments than a used car for $15,000.

Down Payment

The larger the down payment, the lower the loan amount borrowed, which leads to lower monthly payments. Aim for a 20% down payment if possible.

Interest Rate

Also called the annual percentage rate (APR), the interest rate has a major impact on monthly payments. Getting pre-approved with the best rate will help lower payments.

Loan Term

Longer loan terms (72-84 months) reduce payments but increase total interest costs over the life of the loan. Shorter terms often have higher monthly payments but save on interest expenses.

Sales Tax

Sales tax adds to the vehicle purchase price, so calculators that estimate tax help reflect the true total price and resulting monthly payment.


Added fees like documentation fees, extended warranties, GAP insurance, etc. raise the amount financed, leading to higher monthly payments. Use the calculator tools to estimate these add-ons.

Inputting accurate numbers for each of these key factors will give you the most reliable monthly payment estimate when using an online auto loan calculator.

Compare Loan Terms to Find the Best Deal

One of the biggest advantages of using an auto loan calculator is the ability to compare different loan term scenarios. Evaluating payment amounts and interest costs for different loan durations and APRs allows you to find the best overall deal.

Here is an example to demonstrate how loan terms affect monthly payments on a $30,000 auto loan with a $6,000 down payment:

| Loan Term | Interest Rate | Monthly Payment | Total Interest |
| 4 years (48 months) | 4.5% | $660 | $2,880 |
| 5 years (60 months) | 4.5% | $545 | $3,700 |
| 6 years (72 months) | 4.5% | $470 | $4,440 |
| 4 years (48 months) | 6% | $680 | $3,840 |
| 5 years (60 months) | 6% | $565 | $4,900 |
| 6 years (72 months) | 6% | $495 | $5,940 |

Examining the different payment amounts, a 72 month term has the lowest monthly payment. But this comes at a steep cost of nearly $1,500-$2,500 more in interest compared to a 48 month term. The longer the loan, the more interest paid over the full term.

Comparing a 4.5% and 6% APR for the same 60 month loan shows how a lower interest rate can save over $1,000 in interest. This demonstrates the importance of securing the best rate possible for your situation.

Use the auto loan calculator to visualize comparisons like this. Look at monthly payments, total interest costs, and the big picture trade-offs between loan terms to make the overall best decision.

7 Tips for Getting the Lowest Auto Loan Rate

The interest rate you receive will have a significant impact on your monthly payments. Follow these tips to get the lowest auto loan APR:

  • Check your credit – Good credit scores in the 690+ range secure better rates. Monitor your credit reports and score.
  • Improve your credit – If needed, work over several months to increase your score. Higher scores access lower rates.
  • Get pre-approved – Being pre-approved gives you negotiating leverage and locks in the rate. Apply with multiple lenders.
  • Ask for discounts – Negotiate with lenders for any discounts like repeat customer or autopay discounts to lower the APR.
  • Compare rates – Use the auto loan calculator to compare rates between lenders and local banks/CUs.
  • Buy down the rate – You may be able to pay points upfront to buy down the interest rate several percentage points.
  • Optimize down payment – Putting down 20% or more gives access to the best rates and shows lenders you’re financially stable.

Using an auto loan calculator along with these tips will put you in prime position to secure the lowest available interest rate and save substantially on your new car purchase.

How Much Car Payment Can You Afford?

Determining the monthly payment you can reasonably afford is key to using the auto loan calculator successfully. As a general rule, your total monthly debt payments, including an auto loan payment, should not exceed 36% of your pre-tax income.

For example, if your gross monthly income is $5,000, you would multiply this by 0.36 to get a $1,800 maximum for total monthly debt payments. Subtract any existing debts like a mortgage, student loans, and credit cards to find your remaining amount available for a car payment.

Many financial experts actually recommend keeping vehicle payments under 15% of your take-home pay. So in the above example, 15% of $5,000 would be a $750 maximum payment.

To find the specific payment you can afford:

  1. Calculate gross monthly income
  2. Multiply by 0.36 (or 0.15 for more conservative budget)
  3. Subtract existing monthly debt payments
  4. Remainder is what you can afford for a car payment

Use this calculated maximum when inputting down payment, loan terms, and vehicle price into an auto loan calculator. Adjust the variables until the monthly payment amount fits what you can actually afford.

Watch Out for Long Term Loans

With new vehicle prices rising, longer auto loan terms are becoming more common, now averaging over 70 months according to Experian. But longer loans of 6-7 years also mean paying significantly more interest over time.

Here’s an example to illustrate the higher cost of a 72 month vs. 48 month auto loan:

  • Vehicle Price: $35,000
  • Down Payment: $7,000
  • Loan Amount: $28,000
  • Interest Rate: 5%

| Loan Term | Monthly Payment | Total Payments | Total Interest |
| 48 months | $610 | $29,280 | $4,280 |
| 72 months | $449 | $32,328 | $8,328 |

The 72 month loan saves $161 per month in payments, but costs an extra $4,048 in interest!

The general rule is:

  • Loan terms under 48 months are ideal
  • 48-60 months is reasonable
  • Anything over 60 months becomes expensive

Carefully evaluate the trade-offs of longer loan terms before committing. An auto loan calculator can demonstrate how much extra interest is paid over the long run.

Include All Costs When Calculating Payments

One mistake people make when using an auto loan calculator is entering just the vehicle purchase price. This overlooks the impact of sales tax, title and registration fees, add-ons like warranties, documentation fees, and more.

Running the numbers with only the purchase price gives an incomplete picture. For a full understanding, here are the additional costs to factor in:

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  • Sales tax – Average combined state and local tax rate is 8%. Calculate using the purchase price.
  • Documentation fee – Varies by state, but typically $50-$500. Check dealer websites.
  • Title and registration – Usually $100-$300 depending on the state. Verify on DMV sites.
  • Dealer fees – Options like nitrogen tires, VIN etching, etc may add a few hundred more.
  • Warranties & insurance – Extended protection plans or GAP insurance can add substantially to the loan amount. Get quotes.
  • Local incentives – Some areas offer tax credits for electric vehicles. Calculate any savings.

Using the auto loan calculator’s add-on tools or manually adding all relevant fees ensures you see the full projected monthly payment amount. Avoid surprises once in the finance office.

Compare Rates from Multiple Lenders

To find the lowest auto loan rate, you’ll need to compare APR offers from at least 3-4 different lending sources. Online lenders, banks, credit unions, and dealership financing should all be considered.

Get pre-approved from one or more of these options to see real rate quotes. Then input the different interest rates into the auto loan calculator to identify potential savings.

For example, here is a comparison of monthly payments on a $25,000 loan amount using rates from three sample lenders:

| Lender | Interest Rate | Monthly Payment |
| Online Lender | 4.5% | $465 |
| Local Credit Union | 3.9% | $454 |
| Bank Pre-Approval | 6.5% | $488 |

In this scenario, the credit union offered the best rate and monthly payment savings of $34 per month vs. the bank. This adds up to over $1,200 in interest savings over a 5 year loan!

Applying with multiple lenders also prevents dependance on the dealer’s financing which may not be the most competitive rate. Having financing already secured gives you flexibility to purchase from any dealer with the best price.

Use Calculators to Negotiate Better Deals

There are a couple negotiating tactics to leverage the auto loan calculator when purchasing a vehicle:

Qualify for incentives – Some OEMs offer special financing rates or cash rebates once you qualify with certain credit scores or down payments. Use a calculator to preview required monthly payments for their deals.

Negotiate the APR – Come armed with better rate offers from other lenders. Ask the dealer to beat your pre-approvals or reference the calculator savings to negotiate down the interest rate.

Get fees removed – Use the calculator’s add-on capability to tally up itemized fees. Challenge anything that seems excessive.

Walk away if needed – If the numbers don’t align with the deal you know is affordable, don’t be afraid to walk away.

Having used the auto loan calculator ahead of time to estimate fair monthly payments, total purchase prices, and reasonable interest rates gives you the confidence and preparation to negotiate and stand firm.

Final Tips for Using an Auto Loan Calculator

Here are a few final best practice tips for harnessing the power of an online auto loan calculator:

  • Verify your actual credit score – Don’t just guess at what interest rate you may qualify for.
  • Research carefully – Use sites like KBB and Edmunds to get accurate local vehicle prices, trade-in values, fees, etc.
  • Include all costs – Sales tax, title, warranties, etc. should all be factored in. Leave nothing out.
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