Is refinancing a car loan worth it?

couple working out refinanced car loan repayments

In this current low-rate environment, refinancing has become common practice for many home loan holders to shave thousands off their mortgage. 

But is refinancing your car loan a good idea? 


Let’s take a look at the numbers: 

Since 2016, there have been eight cuts made to the Reserve Bank of Australia’s (RBA) official cash rate. It now sits at an historic low of 0.10% from 2.00%. 

The current average variable car loan rate for new and used vehicles sits at 6.68%. When you compare that to the average rate at the same time five years ago, 7.82% - that’s a 1.14% difference.  

In the case of home loan interest rates, the current average variable rate is 3.30% from 4.72% five years ago. While that is a 1.42% difference, the small margin can make a significant difference because home loans are generally around 25 to 30 years. 

So the question is, should you refinance your current car loan? 

We’ve weighed it up. 

Why refinancing a car could be a bad idea 

  • You may not save that much: 

As mentioned above, car loan rates have remained low over the last five years with minimal movement. So, you may not end up shaving off that much by refinancing, like you would with a mortgage, as terms are shorter, between one to 10 years. This means that the period of time to save is a lot less. So overall it may end up only being a few hundred dollars - which could be the cost of applying for a new loan anyway. 

Take this for example: say you have three years left on your six-year car loan with $30,000 remaining. Your original car loan rate was 7.82%, if you kept this rate, you would pay $938 per month and $3,754 in interest overall. If you refinanced from a loan with a 6.68% rate, you’d pay $922 and $3,189 in interest. That’s a savings of $16 per month and $565 in interest. 

Currently on the Mozo database, application or establishment costs for car loans range between $0 and $995. So the saving may be even less if you need to front up a fee. 

  • Refinancing new to used: 

If you are planning on refinancing a new car loan, it’s likely that you’d have to refinance to a used car loan - as your car is no longer new. Generally, used car loans come with higher interest rates than new car loans, so you may not be able to find a lower rate. 

For example, the average variable new car loan rate sits at 6.33% on the Mozo database. On the other hand, the average for used vehicles is 6.83%.

When you should consider refinancing your car loan 

  • If you have improved your credit score: 

These days, a bunch of car loan lenders offer tiered rates that are based on a customer's credit score. This means that if your credit rating has improved since the time you took out a car loan, you may benefit from refinancing to a product that offers a low rate to those with good credit.  

  • You switch to a shorter term: 

The key to refinancing your car loan for a lower rate is to ensure that you choose a shorter term to the one you currently have. That way, by keeping your repayment the same (or close to) you’ll end up paying down your loan earlier as well as saving yourself in interest.

RELATED ARTICLE:
New car loans that might fit your price range in 2021 

Want to check out some car loan options right now? Have a look at these products below or jump over to our comparison page for low interest car loans for more lenders. 

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Last updated 18 June 2024 Important disclosures and comparison rate warning*
  • Used Car Loan

    Fixed, Secured, No vehicle age limit

    Interest rate
    comparison rate
    Monthly repayment
    6.57% p.a.to 18.99% p.a.
    7.19% p.a.to 21.78% p.a.based on $30,000
    over 5 years

    Get a competitive fixed interest rate on a secured used car loan of up to $75,000 depending on your credit score. No vehicle age limits. Easy online application. Fast pre-approval. Pre-approved funds held for up to 3 months. No monthly account keeping fees, no exit fees and no early repayment fees. Flexible weekly, fortnightly or monthly repayments on terms from 1 to 7 years.

    Repayment terms from 1 year to 7 years. Representative example: a 5 year $30,000 loan at 6.57% would cost $35,528.12 including fees.

    Compare
    Details
  • Car Loan

    Up to 7 years old, Fixed, Secured

    Interest rate
    comparison rate
    Monthly repayment
    6.49% p.a.
    6.84% p.a.based on $30,000
    over 5 years

    Purchase or refinance a new or used car, caravan or motorbike, up to 7 years old. Fixed rate with terms from 1 to 7 years. Make additional payments and free redraw. No early payout penalties. No monthly fees. Quick start application in less than 5 minutes online.

    Repayment terms from 1 year to 7 years. Representative example: a 5 year $30,000 loan at 6.49% would cost $35,460.64 including fees.

    Compare
    Details
  • New Car Loan - Special

    Home Owner Discount, Including Demo, Variable, Secured

    Interest rate
    comparison rate
    Monthly repayment
    6.24% p.a.
    7.36% p.a.based on $30,000
    over 5 years

    Low variable car loan rate for purchasing new and demo vehicles from dealers. Personalised loan amounts between $5,000 and $150,000. Flexible repayment options. Choose between the 3 to 7 year loan terms. Good credit history. Stable employment history and Australian citizenship or PR required.

    Repayment terms from 3 years to 7 years. Representative example: a 5 year $30,000 loan at 6.24% would cost $35,880.27 including fees.

    Compare
    Details
  • Better Car Loan Special Offer

    Fixed, Secured

    Interest rate
    comparison rate
    Monthly repayment
    6.24% p.a.
    6.65% p.a.based on $30,000
    over 5 years

    Get a fixed rate car loan for amounts over $20,000 with Police Credit Union. Make additional repayments at any time without penalty. Free online redraw. Available for new and used cars. Can also be used for motorcycles, boats, caravans, trailers or any registrable vehicle.

    Repayment terms from 1 year to 5 years. Representative example: a 5 year $30,000 loan at 6.24% would cost $35,295.27 including fees.

    Compare
    Details
  • New Car Loan

    Fixed, Secured

    Interest rate
    comparison rate
    Monthly repayment
    6.57% p.a.to 18.99% p.a.
    7.19% p.a.to 21.78% p.a.based on $30,000
    over 5 years

    Get a competitive fixed interest rate on a secured new car loan of up to $75,000 depending on your credit score. Easy online application. Fast pre-approval. Pre-approved funds held for up to 3 months. No monthly account keeping fees, no exit fees and no early repayment fees. Flexible weekly, fortnightly or monthly repayments on terms from 1 to 7 years.

    Repayment terms from 1 year to 7 years. Representative example: a 5 year $30,000 loan at 6.57% would cost $35,528.12 including fees.

    Compare
    Details
  • Used Car Loan

    Home Owner, Up to 3 years old, Fixed, Secured

    Interest rate
    comparison rate
    Monthly repayment
    7.69% p.a.
    8.80% p.a.based on $30,000
    over 5 years

    Eligible for homeowners only. Low fixed car loan rate for purchasing new and demo vehicles from dealers or private sale. There is no monthly or ongoing fees and early payout options available. Winner of Mozo's Experts Choice Car Loan 2021 award^.

    Repayment terms from 3 years to 7 years. Representative example: a 5 year $30,000 loan at 7.69% would cost $37,111.05 including fees.

    Compare
    Details

* WARNING: The Comparison Rate combines the lender's interest rate, fees and charges into a single rate to show the true cost of a personal loan. The comparison rates displayed are calculated based on a loan of $30,000 for a term of 5 years or a loan of $10,000 for a term of 3 years as indicated, based on monthly principal and interest repayments, on a secured basis for secured loans and an unsecured basis for unsecured loans. This comparison rate applies only to the example or examples given. Different amounts and terms will result in different comparison rates. Costs such as redraw fees or early repayment fees, and cost savings such as fee waivers, are not included in the comparison rate but may influence the cost of the loan.

^See information about the Mozo Experts Choice Personal Loan Awards

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