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How Can I Get Out of a High Car Payment?

Finance | 05/19/2022 22:00

If your monthly car payment has you struggling to make ends meet every month, you might be wondering how you can get a lower car payment. Maybe your income unexpectedly decreased; maybe your other expenses have unexpectedly increased; or maybe you just flat out got in over your head. 

Whatever the reason is, rest assured that there are ways to help you get out of a high car payment! 

Let’s talk about high car payments and how you can get out from under them.

What is a car loan?

Let’s start with the basics. A car loan is a secured loan that can help you finance a new or used car. A lender will pay for your car and you will repay them in monthly installments with an additional fee, the interest, which is what incentivizes them to loan you the money in the first place. Your car acts as collateral and if you cannot repay the lender, your car will be taken away as repayment. The fact that your car acts as collateral is what makes this a “secured” loan.

How are car payments calculated?

Your monthly car payments depend on three main factors: the principal of the loan, the interest rate on the loan, and the length of the loan term. 

Car payments are calculated by adding up the principal of the loan (this includes the price of the car plus any taxes and fees, minus the down payment) plus the total interest due over the length of the loan. It is then divided up by the amount of months in the term.

Why are your car payments so high?

Car payments were higher at the end of 2021 than they have been in a long time. In fact, according to Experian’s State of the Automotive Industry, the average monthly car payment jumped from $567 at the end of 2019 to $644 at the end of 2021. That’s a 14% increase in just two years! 

The main reason that car payments are so high right now is simple: cars are just more expensive today than they were a few years ago. Much of this increase in price is a result of the infamous computer chip shortage: a shortage in computer chips meant that cars were (and still are) taking longer to build. This increased demand and in turn increased prices. 

But putting the cost of cars aside, there are a few other reasons that your car payments might be so high:

  1. Your interest rate is high. Your car loan APR could be high for a number of reasons. Maybe the prevailing market rates were high when you initially financed your car (but they are currently very low!. Maybe your credit score wasn’t so hot when you initially financed, or your income was notably less. All of this can lead to higher car loan APRs (and therefore high monthly car payments).

  2. Your loan term is short. The shorter your loan term, the less time you have to pay back your loan. And although you will save a lot in interest by having a short term loan, you will have less time to pay off the principal. This means that your payments are compressed and therefore much higher per month.

But whatever the reason is, fear not! We have some helpful tips on how you can get off the hook for your high car payments and help you secure lower car payments.  After all, we could all use some extra money in our pockets, right?

What can you do to get out of a high car payment?

Talk to your lender (Before you miss any payments)

The first step you can take is to simply talk to your lender. Communication is so important, and if you are upfront and honest with your lender, they might be willing to work with you. The lender may allow forbearance, where they will temporarily reduce your payments (or even put a temporary pause on repayment). Be sympathetic in your plea: they may surprise you with their leniency. 

Sell your car

If your money issues aren’t a temporary issue, a pause on repayment will probably not help you a whole lot. Your car might simply be too expensive for you. And if that’s the case, selling your car might be a good option for you. The following may help you get the best price for your car:

  1. Understand and research your car’s value

  2. Collect your car’s paperwork and service records

  3. Perform any maintenance that may be needed

  4. Thoroughly clean your car, outside and inside

  5. Advertise widely, both online and in your community

  6. Set up a safe place for people to see your car and test drive

Selling your car can be a great way to get those pesky monthly payments off of your back. But remember: you most likely still need a car to get around. Be sure you can find something that is within your budget before you sell your only way to get around.

Refinance your car

Another great option to to get a lower car payment is to refinance your car loan. Refinancing is when you pay off an existing loan with a new loan, one that ideally has better terms. So if your car loan APR is too high or your repayment period is too short, refinancing is the best option for you to get better terms. 

Here’s how to know when the time is right to refinance:

  • The market rates have decreased. If the prevailing loan rates have decreased since you initially got your loan (which they most likely have), you may be able to qualify for a lower car loan APR. (Pro tip: refinance soon before the rates go up again! Refinancing is all about striking while the iron is hot)

  • Your credit score has increased. If your credit score has improved since you initially financed your car, you may be able to qualify for a lower car loan APR. Your credit score is the single most important factor that you can control when it comes to the interest rates you are offered. If your credit score hasn’t improved but refinancing still sounds like a good option to you, spend a few months focusing on improving your score before you apply: it can save you a boatload of money in the future.

Getting a lower car loan APR can save you a lot of money over the length of your car loan. But be wary of refinancing if any of the following apply to you.

  • You have less than two years left on your loan. Since car loans are front loaded amortized loans, you pay off most of the interest in the beginning of your loan and most of the principal towards the end of your loan. Therefore as you have less and less time left on your loan, you are paying less and less interest. Because of this, refinancing is less and less beneficial as more time goes on.

  • You’ve had your existing loan for less than six months. Experts recommend waiting at least six months (if not one year) to refinance. That’s because it generally takes that amount of time for your credit score to bounce back after the hard inquiries on your credit report.

  • Your existing loan has prepayment penalties. Many loan contracts have prepayment penalties built into them. These penalties are meant to discourage people from leaving their contracts early. Afterall, they make less money on interest if you jump ship. So before you get too far into refinancing, be sure to check your current loan’s contract to make sure that any penalties will be outweighed by the amount of savings that refinancing will provide.

So, should you refinance your car?

Refinancing is a great way to ensure lower monthly car payments. To be sure that you get the best car loan APR possible, use a company that specializes in auto refinancing, like Auto Approve. We have relationships with lenders all across the country, which means we can secure you the most competitive rates out there. But don’t just take our word for it–with a 96% would recommend rating on LendingTree and an A+ rating on Better Business Bureau, you know our customers are satisfied!

Those are our top tips for getting out of high monthly car payments.

Saving money is more important than ever nowadays. And refinancing your car is an easy and effective way to cut costs and get lower car payments every month so that you have more money to spend on things that matter. So don’t wait to cut costs – get started today with Auto Approve!


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*APR and Fees Disclosure: Auto Approve works to find you the best Annual Percentage Rate (APR), which is based on factors like your credit history, vehicle and desired payment terms. Fees to complete your loan refinance vary by state and lender; they generally include admin fees, doc fees, DMV and title. Advertised 6.24% APR based on: 2019 model year or newer vehicle, 730 minimum FICO credit score, and loan term up to 72 months. All loans subject to credit and lender approval.
Auto Approve has an A+ rating with the BBB and is located at 2860 Vicksburg Lane North Plymouth, MN 55447. Auto Approve works to find its customers the best terms and APR, which are based on factors like credit history, vehicle, and desired payment terms. Loan amounts, costs, and fees vary by state and lender; they generally include admin fees, doc fees, DMV, and title fees, depending on the lender and period of repayment. There is no fee to obtain a quote and all refinancing-related costs are included in the amount financed so there are no out-of-pocket costs! For more information, please go to AutoApprove.com.