Understanding Canadian Car Loans from A-Z

Written by Sean Cooper

Are you planning to purchase a vehicle? Unless you can afford to pay for it in cash, you’ll have to borrow the money. And there are a lot of factors to consider when choosing a car loan: should you finance or lease? What interest rate can you get? How long will you take to pay the loan back?

Everyone’s circumstance is different, and one car loan might be a perfect fit for your neighbour but not for you. Let’s take a look at the car loans Canada offers to see if we can simplify what might otherwise be an overwhelming landscape of info.

Car Loans – The Basics

A car loan is a personal loan in which a lender loans a borrower the funds needed to buy a car. In exchange, the borrower agrees to repay the lender the loan amount with interest, typically in monthly payments, until the loan is fully paid off. There are a few key concepts that are important to understand if you’re considering a car loan.

Principal

Principal is the total sale price of the car, and the amount you borrow. This includes any fees for the lender or dealership and any add-ons or options you may select.

Interest Rate

The interest rate is the percentage the lender charges the borrower on the money loaned. The rate given by a lender can depend on several factors, including: the lender’s prime rate; the borrower’s credit score; and the vehicle’s make and model. If you have an excellent credit score and earn a decent wage, you’ll typically qualify for the best (prime) interest rate on a car loan.

Term

The term is the period of time in which the car loan is to be repaid. Car loan lengths are typically between two and eight years. Longer car loans in Canada have the advantage of lower monthly payments, but can lead to the unfortunate situation where you have negative equity in your vehicle (you still owe money on the vehicle when it’s inoperable). For that reason, you might think twice before taking on a seven or eight-year car loan.

A general rule of thumb is to try to cap it at five years if your cash flow allows. (If you’re confident that you’ll have a steady source of income that you can budget a monthly payment from for the next five years.) If it doesn’t, consider buying a less expensive vehicle, or consider leasing.

Does It Make Sense to Lease, Finance or Buy a Car in Cash?

Why you might lease a car:

  • You prefer to drive a new vehicle: When you lease a vehicle, you’re essentially only renting it. The typical car lease lasts only two to four years. Once the lease is up, you can return the car and start the process all over again by leasing another new vehicle or you can buy out the lease from the dealership if you want to keep the vehicle.
  • Cash (flow) is king: The biggest advantage with leasing is cash flow. When you lease, your monthly payment will be lower than if you take out a car loan to purchase the same vehicle. Unlike a loan, where you borrow the full purchase price of the vehicle, with a lease you’re only borrowing the amount that the car will depreciate in value over the period of time of the lease. A vehicle that costs $600 a month with a car loan may only cost $350 a month with a lease.
  • You enjoy driving nice cars: The lower monthly car payment when you lease versus own means that you can afford a nicer make and model of car than you otherwise would be able to if you financed or bought the car.
  • You don’t drive very often: If you mostly use your vehicle for commuting short distances, leasing may make sense. You don’t have to worry about going over the distance limits on your lease and being forced to pay costly overage penalties. Most standard car leases come with a limit of 24,000 kilometres. As long as you stay within the limit, you should be fine.
  • Peace of mind: Since you’re always driving a newer vehicle, you’re less likely to incur costly car repairs since the vehicle is almost always under full warranted. Although note that if you do need car repairs, you may be required to get them done at the lease’s dealership, which may cost you more than taking your car to the neighbourhood auto mechanic.

Why you might finance (take out a loan) a car:

  • You drive long distances:When you finance (or own) a vehicle, you don’t need to worry how often you drive it. If you’re commuting long distances to work and planning to travel a lot, you won’t have to stress about facing penalties you’d incur when leasing. You’re generally better off financing instead of leasing if you plan to drive over 30,000 kilometres a year.
  • You’re in it for the long haul: Unlike a lease, once you pay off a car loan, the vehicle is yours. There are no more monthly payments to deal with. It’s an asset that can be used to make a stronger financial case, for instance, when applying for a mortgage. You can drive it into the ground or trade it in. It’s completely up to you.
  • Freedom of choice: If you’re a car enthusiast, chances are you’ll want to modify your vehicle. If you want to add a custom tailgate, you’re out of luck if you lease. Not so if you took out a car loan, in which you can customize your vehicle to your heart’s content.
  • Building your credit score: There are five factors that make up your credit score. Payment history is the most important factor, accounting for 35% of the score. By steadily paying your car loan over time, it can have an overall positive impact on your credit score.

Why you might buy a car in cash:

  • No monthly payments: If you have the cash, you might consider buying a vehicle outright. When you do, you don’t have any monthly car payments to worry about, which will reduce the mortgage amount you’ll qualify for if you’re planning to buy a home. You also won’t have to worry about going to a lender for financing.
  • Cash incentives: To entice you to pay in cash, the car dealership may offer you cash incentives (i.e. a discount on the car cost) as a sweetener.

How Does a Car Loan Work?

Applying for a Car Loan

You’ll need to complete the lender’s car loan application form, where you’ll provide your basic personal and financial information. You’ll also typically need to submit other documentation, including notices of assessments for two years, your monthly housing cost, the make and model of the vehicle you’re considering purchasing, and any monthly debt obligations you have. A lending specialist will then review your files and crunch the numbers to see if you qualify for the loan. Pre-qualification can be done to see if you can afford the car you want (this can help avoid dinging your credit score). Pre-qualification is just like applying for a car loan, but without pulling your credit report, and therefore avoiding the potential hit to your credit score.

When applying for car loans, you’ll want to limit the number of lenders you apply with, as applying with too many lenders in a short period of time can negatively impact your credit score.

Receiving a Car Loan

The process of receiving the car loan depends on whether your lender is a bank, online lender, or dealership. With a bank or online lender, a lump sum payment is typically deposited into your bank account. You can then use the funds to purchase the vehicle from the dealership. However, if you’re buying the car directly from the dealership, you won’t typically receive a deposit since you’re borrowing the money from the dealership who owns the vehicle. You’ll simply receive the vehicle and will be required to start making your car payments.

Repaying a Car Loan

Car loans have a set repayment schedule depending on the term of the car loan you choose. If you choose a shorter-term loan, your monthly payments will be higher, and if you stretch it out, your monthly payments will be lower (although you’ll pay more in interest over the life of the loan). To keep your credit in good standing, you’ll want to make your car payments on time.

The payments are typically withdrawn by way of preauthorized payment from your bank account. If you come into extra money (such as a tax refund, pay raise, inheritance or bonus at work), you can typically make extra payments above and beyond your regular/minimum car payments. This reduces the term of your car loan, thereby saving you money you would pay in interest.

Payment Terms

A car loan’s payment is usually fixed (stays the same) during the term of the loan. When you make a car payment, similar to a mortgage, a portion of it goes toward interest and a portion goes toward principal. Car loan payments are front-loaded and paid via amortization. As such, you’ll pay the most interest at the beginning of the loan.

How Interest Is Calculated

There are two types of interest calculations on car loans: simple interest and compound interest. With simple interest, interest is only charged on the original amount that you borrowed (the principal). With compound interest, interest is calculated on both the principal plus the interest accrued since the beginning of the loan.

When you sign up for a car loan, you should receive a financial disclosure, which expresses the interest rate as APR (Annual Percentage Rate). This takes into account the total cost of borrowing and includes compounding interest, fees and anything else you may be required to pay. This represents the true overall cost of the car loan.

Credit Score and Credit Report

It’s beneficial to have a high credit score when seeking out a car loan—the higher your credit score, the more likely you are to qualify for the lowest interest rate possible. So I recommend that you review your credit score and credit report before you apply for a loan.

You’ll want to request them from both the major credit reporting bureaus, Equifax and Transunion, since some lenders only report to one credit bureau. If you find that your credit score is on the low side, try to improve it by paying down your credit card balances and other outstanding debts. Keep an eye out for any inaccuracies on your credit report that negatively affect your score. If you see an error, take steps to correct it before applying for the loan.

Make and Model

Decide on the make and model of the vehicle you’d like to purchase. This will give your lender a purchase price so that they can come up with the terms of your loan.

Personal and Financial Information

Your lender will request personal information, such as your full legal name, date of birth and current address. They’ll also want to know about outstanding debts as well as rent or mortgage payments. If you’re putting money down on the vehicle, the lender may request to see proof of your down payment in the form of recent bank statements.

Driver’s License

Your lender may request that you provide photo ID in the form of a driver’s license. Having a driver’s license can help, since borrowers with a driver’s license are typically more likely to pay back car loans.

Employment History and Income

Lenders typically ask for your employment history for the last three years. To ensure you can afford the car loan, your lender will often ask for proof of income, in the form of notices of assessment for the last two years.

Banking Details

Your lender will request a void cheque and may request that you complete a preauthorized payment form to automatically withdraw the car loan payments from your bank account.

Types of Auto Loans

Banks and Credit Unions

When a Canadian bank or credit union approves an auto loan they typically deposit the loan amount directly into the borrower’s bank account. The borrower can then use the funds to pay the car dealership for the vehicle they’d like to purchase. This is often referred to as “direct lending,” since the car loan comes directly from a bank or credit union.

Dealership Financing

As the name implies, dealership financing is when the loan is administered by the dealership selling the vehicle. The biggest advantage of dealership financing is convenience: You can buy the vehicle and finance it at the same time and location. It doesn’t get any easier than that!

Just make sure you take the time to shop around, and be confident that you’re getting a car loan with a reasonable interest rate and favourable terms.

Online Lenders

Fintech (short for financial technology) has made it easier than ever to obtain a car loan. With an online lender, you can apply for a car loan from the comfort of your home. It’s a convenient approach to getting a car loan, as application forms are completed online. And it’s very easy to shop around for the best loan terms possible, which helps borrowers save more money.

Auto Loan Features You Should Pay Attention To

Before you start your search for the best car loan you can find, remember these key factors to keep an eye on:

  • Interest rate: The lower the interest rate on the loan, the less you’ll pay for the car in the long run.
  • Fixed/variable rates: Fixed-interest car loan rates in Canada remain the same for the term of the car loan, while variable rates can fluctuate with a change in the lender’s prime rate. Variable rates offered are typically lower than fixed rates, but you might nonetheless consider going with a fixed rate if your cash flow is tight or you’re risk averse.
  • Simple/compound interest: Simple interest is based on the principal amount of the car loan, while compound is based on the principal + the interest that accumulates during the compounding period.
  • Repayment schedule: If you’re looking to maximum monthly cash flow, you may go with a longer loan term, although the tradeoff is you’ll pay more interest over the life of your loan.
  • Payment frequency: Lenders often let you choose the payment frequency of car loans. Common payment frequencies include weekly, bi-weekly, semi-monthly or monthly payments. In terms of cash flow, it’s easiest if you choose a payment frequency that matches your pay schedule at work.

Buying a Used Car: How to Choose a Payment Option

When the time comes to buy a used car, there are many financial factors to consider. Perhaps your budget will narrow your used car choices, or you may not be aware of the payment options available. We are ready to show you some ways you can pay for your vehicle and to show you that the make and model you desire most may well be within your reach if you plan carefully.

Consider the Time Frame

As you consider payment options, one of the first factors you might want to think about is how long you will be paying for your car. Whether you secure a loan through the bank or choose in-house financing with us and depending on your credit, your loan could be as brief as two or three years or as long as five. It is important to understand the exact terms of the length of your loan before you sign off on a vehicle.

Give Yourself Time

Even if you find yourself needing a new vehicle for your commute to work or school, you should avoid jumping into a deal right away. Take the time to consider your options, as this may help you avoid hefty payments that might be hard to handle later on. For example, ask yourself whether your current car is a valid trade in or if you can secure a down payment that may help lower the cost of a vehicle.

Review Your Budget

One mistake many people make when they shop for used cars is to miscalculate how much they can afford to pay monthly. To avoid this error, you will need to factor more than just the car payment into your auto ownership budget. The cost of insurance, gas and other taxes and fees that will need to be paid when you purchase a vehicle should all be included in your budget to ensure you do not overextend it.

Buying a used car can be a challenge, especially if you are unsure of your payment options. However, being prepared and asking the right questions can help you get the car you want at an affordable payment.

Advice and Negotiation Tips for Shopping Used Cars

Buying a vehicle is never easy, but buying a used vehicle is downright difficult. You will get your hopes up numerous times by an ad that seems too good to be true, only to be let down when, in fact, it was too good to be true. Someone might advertise their car as “Like new! Mild wear and tear! Runs great!” when in actuality, it is very much old, has extensive wear and tear and doesn’t run at all. Yes, it happens. That is why, when shopping for used cars, you should know where to turn and how to negotiate. Don’t fall for a scam and bring home a lemon, and use the following advice to help ease the pain of your search:

Go to a Dealer

Sure, you know someone who found a great deal on Kijiji, or are even friends with that lucky person who bought a car on Ebay ten years ago and it’s still running great today. However, those people are the exceptions to the rule that states that you should never, ever shop for used cars online. Not only is it impossible to tell the true condition of a vehicle without actually seeing it, but also, you’re risking spending thousands of dollars a car that may take a dump on you ten minutes after purchasing it. Then, because there is no warranty, you’re stuck with an old car that doesn’t run and no money to fix it.

Find the Car You Want

Before you head to the dealership, know what you’re looking for. If you head to the dealership without a clue, you may end up purchasing a vehicle that is over your budget and all wrong for your needs. Identify the traits you need in a new used car: good gas mileage, three rows, ample storage space, etc. Once you do this, set a budget and head to the dealer.

Negotiate Like a Pro

Negotiating for a fair price might be the most daunting part of the car buying process, but it’s necessary. Dealerships expect you to negotiate and price their cars accordingly. Use all the knowledge you have regarding the vehicle to bring the price down.

Use the tips above when shopping for used cars to get the best your money can buy.

Who You Should Bring Along When Shopping for Used Cars

Shopping for used cars can be a daunting experience. With so many makes and models to choose from and with so many ways to finance your vehicle, going it alone can make you feel less confident than you normally might. To make your experience more pleasant, we have some tips about who you might bring along as you shop and take test drives, as this may help you make a more confident purchasing decision.

Your Spouse

Having your spouse along with you as you shop for a used car might make you feel comfortable in terms of helping you decide what kind of car best suits your needs as a couple or a family. You can also bring them to help you keep track of your paperwork and for moral support as well, especially if this is your first time buying a used car on your own.

Your Mechanic

If you have a good friend who is a mechanic, they can be an invaluable individual to have along when you’re browsing used cars. You can ask them questions about which models have the best track record when it comes to safety and reliability. Taking them on test drives might also help you understand and identify any unfamiliar noises you might hear.

Your Adult Children

Having your adult children accompany you on your used car shopping trips can be extremely helpful, especially if you have not purchased a vehicle in some time and are now a senior. They can help you make decisions about which finance option is best for your budget and assist with filling out paperwork if you find yourself running low on energy. If you are not familiar with today’s technology, your kids can help a dealer explain features such as GPS, Bluetooth capability and more.

Shopping for used cars can sometimes feel overwhelming if you go it alone. Bringing along a spouse or a loved one can help you feel more confident that you are getting the most for your money.

There’s a Car Loan Waiting For You

Perhaps you’ve met people who have totally sworn off the idea of financing a far. There are those who think car loans are a bad idea and instead insist on purchasing vehicle outright. But the truth is, a car loan may be your best option. Luckily, you don’t have to worry about placing yourself in a bad position, because car loans are available to suit your unique situation.

Flexible

Your credit history and spending habits will have a lot to say about your next car loan. When you secure your financing, rates and terms will largely be dependent on these two factors, along with your purchase price and how much you are able to put down. Fortunately, if you have strong credit and have demonstrated the ability to pay installment loans on time, you will be able to secure a low interest rate at a term you can be happy with. You loan can be catered to meet your needs.

Dealers Will Work With You

Dealerships can take care of the loan steps, saving your time and hassle. Even if your credit is poor, you don’t have to disqualify yourself from getting your car. This is because here at Bryden Financing & Auto Sales we will do everything possible to get a loan that works for you. Don’t mope and worry that it’ll be impossible for you to get a loan.

Overpay if You Want

Another great thing about a loan, including a car loan, is that there’s nothing wrong with exceeding the monthly payment. If you find yourself with a little cash one month and want to pay down your loan, you’re perfectly able to do so. This will help you get closer to outright ownership of your car without having to pay everything up front.

Car loans are an excellent option for you when it’s time for a car. Follow these guidelines when debating whether this purchase method is right for you.

Suggestions For Getting a Car Loan With Bad Credit

If you have bad credit, it often feels like a pit that you can’t climb out of. You don’t have good credit, and this gets in the way of getting the tool that you need to improve your credit. However, it is not impossible to get bad credit car loans, and there are some ways to make it easier to get accepted, and get a little bit of needed money lent to you.

Large Upfront

What bad credit car loans and the companies that offer them are worried about is getting their money back. This means that if you show up with a large chunk of money to start with, they are going to be a lot more willing to give you a loan because the loan amount will be smaller, and the lenders see that you have financial capabilities. If you don’t need the car for another week or month, it could help waiting for the next paycheck, so you can add a little bit more to the upfront you can offer as a down payment.

Proof of Finances

If you have a steady income, bringing tax information or pay stubs to prove that you have and will have enough money to make the payments will go a long way in convincing people to give you bad credit car loans. It is easy to understand that even with past bad credit, your financial situation has improved, and you are ready to improve your credit score. Showing lenders you have the money will let them believe they will get their money back.

Present Well

People are often judged on how they look. This human behavior may be unavoidable, but you can prepare for it. If you dress nicely and appear professional, lenders may be more inclined to give you a loan, because you look like the kind of person who will pay it off. What you wear doesn’t really say anything about who you are, but the instinctual first impression is impossible to avoid, so take advantage of it instead.

 

Why Buying from a Dealer Makes Sense

When you go looking for used cars, you have the option of going to a dealer or a private seller. There are arguments to be made for either, depending upon your situation, but we believe for most people going to a reputable, established dealership is the top choice. Here are the main reasons why buying from a dealer may be in your best interest.

 

A Broad Selection of Quality Cars

 

Every day on our lots we offer a fine choice of sedans, hatchbacks, SUVs, crossovers, trucks, minivans, coupes and other vehicles. There is no need for you to drive all over town looking at one car at a time. We have everything in one place. All of our cars have been inspected by our mechanics and are in excellent condition when we put them out on the lot. You know when you select a vehicle from us that it is in great shape, which is not always the case when buying from an individual.

 

Financing Options

 

We offer financing for our cars, something that could be difficult to obtain from a private seller, especially if the car is over five years old, or if you have credit issues. Our office staff will work with you to come up with the best deal for you in terms of interest rates, low down payment and a manageable monthly payment. Out staff will also help you with all of the paperwork associated with buying a used car.

 

Maintenance Support

 

We service all of the used cars we sell so there is no need for you to look for a reputable mechanic. We provide routine maintenance in the form of oil changes, as well as tires and wheels, brakes and steering and engine work. Our maintenance staff is experienced in keeping your vehicle running and we offer convenient hours to fit into your busy schedule.

Getting a Car Loan: Why Financing Through the Dealership is a Viable Option

Many people shop for car loans at banks or credit unions, but dealerships often offer financing options of their own. Though you may be able to secure a perfectly favorable loan from a bank, there are several reasons why financing your new car through the dealership itself may be worth considering.

Simplicity

When you’re getting a loan through the dealership, the process suddenly becomes simpler. You are saved the homework of getting preapproved by a bank or other financial institution, and you have less pressure to haggle with the dealership over money. Instead, you’re working with them to find the best financing option for you in conjunction with the particular vehicle that you’re interested in purchasing.

Speed

Many dealerships are able to process and approve your loan far more quickly than any bank. In a number of cases, people can get their loan from a dealer and bring their new car home that same day, which is a very convenient option for everyone involved.

Availability

When applying for car loans through a dealership, you will likely find out that they examine your credit score and history less critically than banks do. Therefore, your chances of getting approved without a perfect credit score are generally higher. This can be beneficial if you’re dealing with some tough financial times, but still need to get a good car.

Flexibility

Another benefit of financing through the dealership itself is that their rates are often less rigid than a bank. More so than banks can, dealerships are usually able to work out a deal with you that benefits both parties.

While many people shop for car loans at different credit unions, banks, and other financial institutions, it may be worth researching loan options provided by the car dealership. The above factors are some strong reasons why getting a loan through the dealership may work well as you shop for the vehicle that’s right for you and your family.

Quick Ways to Boost Your Credit Score Before Getting a Car

If you have bad credit, you might be understandably nervous if you need dealer financing to buy a new car. While there are bad credit car loans that can help you out, you can help yourself by doing everything you can to boost your credit score before applying for financing. Try a few good tips in the months leading up to your purchase.

 

Look At Your Credit Report

 

If you haven’t already, order your free credit report and take a look at it to see if there’s any out-of-date or incorrect information that needs to be cleared up before lenders run your credit. Should there be any inaccurate information on your report, getting it cleared up could boost your credit score a few points. Make sure you request a free report from both Equifax Canada and TransUnion Canada.

 

Take Care of As Much of Your Debt As Possible

 

Do everything you can to pay down your smaller debts before you apply for financing. In addition to smaller amounts owed, focusing on those that have higher interest rates is also a good idea. A sizeable percentage of your credit score is determined by how much of your credit limit you’re currently using, so getting that number as low as you can is sure to go a long way in polishing that credit score.

 

Increase Your Credit Limit

 

Going back to your credit limit, there’s a chance you might qualify for a higher credit limit with your current credit card companies. You’ll have a better chance of being approved for a limit increase if you’ve paid your credit card bill on time, have been a customer for a while and don’t use too much of your credit. If you’re approved for a limit increase, pretend as if your limit hasn’t changed to keep your credit limit use low on your credit report and your credit score high.

 

If you can only boost your score by a few points, that’s better than nothing. Lenders like to see you making an effort, and that effort could help you receive approval for your loan.

Benefits of Bad Credit Car Loans

When you have bad credit, it can sometimes seem like you will never get out from under the score, this is where we can help. Not only can we get you into a quality new or used vehicle, we can also help you get bad credit car loans. These loans can do more than just get you a new ride, however, they can also help rebuild your credit.

 

Get a New-To-You Ride

 

The most obvious benefit of bad credit car loans is that you can get a new ride for yourself and your family. This means that you can more effectively get to work and run errands. You can upgrade to a bigger vehicle, get one more fit for work and much more. We will help you find the right automobile for your needs and help you get the loan to afford it. You can find a variety of vehicles to meet your needs for seating and storage in new or used makes and models.

 

Rebuild Your Credit

 

The fastest way to rebuild your credit is to have a loan in good standing or a successfully completed loan on your credit report. By getting a car loan, you can also get a reliable ride to and from work or around town. This can give you the opportunity to restart or rebuild your credit because every on-time payment will add to your score and a completed loan will bump it up faster. This can help you get better terms on future loans and for bigger purchases.

 

You may think that the only benefit of bad credit car loans is getting you a new or used vehicle to get around in; however, the right loan can help you rebuild your credit. By coming down to the dealership, you can sit down with a loan officer and go over your financing options before you go shopping for a new ride.