Car loan versus car finance

Buying a car, whether new or second hand is an exciting time. A novice driver or experienced? At the end of the day it doesn't matter, because a set of new wheels of any kind can be exhilarating any which way.

But at what cost? Do you actually need new wheels to drive or is it an ego thing? Whatever the situation, what’s more important is whether or not you can afford it. And if you don’t have savings put away dedicated to your potentially new shiny mobile ego, then you’re going to need to look into either a car loan or dealer finance. What’s the difference? Let’s take a look.

What’s the difference between dealer finance and a car loan?

Financial convenience or better $$ deal? Theses are the things you need to think about before securing an amount from a lender to buy the car of your dreams.

Dealer finance

  • Convenient: Sometimes considered to be convenient and a one-stop-shop finance solution available at car dealerships at the time of purchase. To qualify, you need a pretty excellent credit rating. Although not everyone decides to purchase a vehicle with the dealer’s finance, it certainly is a good option if you a) haven’t had time to secure a car loan elsewhere b) want to avoid paperwork dealings in securing a loan as the dealership usually completes the process on your behalf.
  • Trade-in: Some of the things you need to be weary of is: if the interest offered is incredibly lower than a typical bank car loan, you need to question the integrity of their offer. Will you get less for your trade in to compensate for the low rate?
  • Balloon payment: Another thing you need to understand is the ‘balloon’ payment option. This is when you opt to pay much less in your car loan repayments and at the end of the term you pay a lump sum, like $10,000 or whatever the agreed amount of money is. But this scenario begs the question - is it worth paying considerably less for your monthly repayments when you have a heavy amount that’s ballooned at the end? It's important to assess your own situation and decide what's best for you - higher repayments but being debt free at the end of the term, or lower repayments, with a large payment to make at the end of the loan.

Car loan

Think of it as a personal loan. This is usually an agreed amount of money you have arranged and secured to borrow from a financial institution. You can choose to go to your regular bank or many of their competitor banks or unions. Walking into a car dealership with a pre-secured loan amount gives you greater negotiating power. Once you’ve secured an amount you’re happy with, you can then go auto shopping! Beep beep!

Let’s explore the different types of car loans that you can choose from:

Types of car loans Pros Cons
Secured - the vehicle you buy is usually used as security on the loan. You may be able to secure a cheaper interest rate with a secured loan, which means your overall repayments will be easier on the pocket too. As you can imagine, the negative with a secured loan the dealer can repossessed your vehicle should you default on the repayments. Each lender and contract is different, so make sure you fully understand what you’re signing up for. If you lose your job for example, do you have a plan B to fall back on?
Unsecured -a higher risk loan because you’re not placing an asset against your loan as security. Allows you to repay your car loan without tying an asset down, such as you new car to the loan. Expect to pay higher rates for your car loan if it’s unsecured. Remember, higher rates, means higher repayments.
New car - a personal loan designed specifically for purchasing new vehicles. Apart from the new car smell you usually have full new car warranty. Which means if a serious mechanical fault is found, you won’t be out of pocket thousands of dollars. In some instances, if your new car is found unfit to drive, they may even replace it. When securing a new loan for a car, it’s important you understand what all the hidden extras the dealer tries to sell you. Some of these features could be anything from upholstery care to extended warranty. Be wary of extended warranty as it may not cover much at all. As Mozo always says: read the fine print!

Still a little confused? use Mozo’s car loan comparison calculator to give you a better idea on what to expect before singing on the dotted line

Tips for buying your next car

We tend to spend a lot of time driving, and also a lot of money. A car purchase is thought to be the second most expensive asset any one person may own, that is, next to a residential or investment property. So a serious purchase such as a car needs some careful thought and consideration. Here a some tips to help you get started:

  • Don’t apply for multiple loans at the same time as this can affect your credit rating.
  • Research, research, research! Don’t be swayed by the first car you see. Use the internet to help you decide what features, colour and other elements are important to you.
  • You may be able to afford the monthly repayments on a $50,000 car loan, but do you really need it? Everything else being equal (like fees and interest rate), a larger loan amount means you'll wind up having paid more interest at the end of your loan. And on an asset that depreciates as quickly as a car, ask yourself if that extra splurge is really a good decision.
  • By opting for a basic, reasonably priced car that will do the same thing as an expensive one, your monthly repayments will be a mere fraction of what you would’ve paid otherwise. Paying less per month can help you save your extra cash for an asset that will increase in value not decrease.
  • Organising your finance before walking into a dealership will give you more negotiating power.
  • Always negotiate. Even if you opt for dealer finance, push the price down for as much as you can. If you’re not happy with the end result or if you feel like you’re being bullied to accept certain conditions, tell them you’ll have a think about it. Your sales consultant may be able to magically ‘make things happen’ for you.
  • Negotiating on price is not the only thing you can do. Ask for the sale to include things like: warranty car service, on-road expenses, window tinting etc.
  • Avoid purchasing extended warranty. This is usually a money making con that uses fear to sell you something you don’t need. Essentially, after the initial factory warranty ends and your car needs something, you'll be able to assess the expense, compare quotes and pay for it that way.
  • Have you thought about purchasing a demo? You could save thousands in the long run. Sure it may have some kilometers on the clock, but that’s not from driving around long distance. It’s usually from getting around on test drives.
  • That incredible pink hue is great on a cupcake, but on your car? Sticking to more standard colours will help the sale of your car if you decide it one day part with it. Bright or unusual colours may also attract unwanted attention you may want to avoid.
  • Trading-in is pretty common and can shave off a few dollars from your purchase price. But have you thought about selling it privately? You’re likely to get more $ for your car that way, while still being able to reduce the cost of your new/used car with your negotiating prowess.

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