Car shopping is an incredibly frustrating experience for most. At times it can feel a bit like dealing with the devil. Without an accurate way to estimate car payments we can walk into the nice, clean showroom with the smiling, fun salesperson and get the nagging feeling we’re being taken for a ride. Sales associates can be very positive and persuasive, making us feel great about our finances and our future, saying almost anything to “get you into this car.” Leaving the dealership though can be a slide downward into a financial nightmare. That’s especially true when we realize the payments are a lot fatter and angrier than we thought.
The car payment estimator below is a handy calculator that does more than just deliver a monthly payment amount in advance. It also gives us a safe suit of armor when we walk onto the showroom floor. Knowing how much those monthly payments will be and knowing how much we can afford can smooth out the car-buying experience. Estimating payments first can let us shop with confidence and avoid wasting time looking at options that are simply beyond the our budget.
How to Estimate Car Payments
The calculator below will estimate car payments with a few simple inputs. Shoppers don’t need to fill in every field to get a ballpark idea of car payment amounts per month, but the more info the calculator gets, the more accurate the estimate will be. Gather the following info to get the best picture of how much that car will really cost.
Crucial Info to Estimate Car Payments
The three crucial items to get even a ballpark car payment estimate are purchase price, length of loan and interest rate. With those three figures in hand any buyer can get a ballpark figure for monthly payments. There are other factors like fees and taxes that can alter the payment significantly, so make sure to at least look those items over too.
Total Car Purchase Price
The car purchase price is just that: how much the car will cost. This is the price the shopper is pretty sure he or she will pay after all negotiations. Car buyers can also enter the MSRP or sticker price in this field. Failing that, the Kelly Blue Book value of the car will do for an estimate, especially for used cars. Don’t forget to add in the price of any desired options.
Length of Car Loan
Car loans generally last anywhere from two to six years. The longer the term of the loan, the smaller the monthly payment and the bigger the overall cost. To estimate the car payment, the calculator will divide the total price by the number of months. A longer term means more interest.
There’s no need to wait for the salesperson to learn the interest rate on the loan. Car buyers can estimate their own interest rates by learning their credit scores. As of 12/2/16, new car interest rates range from 4.23% to 4.78%.
Also see: How to Estimate Moving Costs
Extra Car Payments Estimate Info
The info above will provide a good ballpark car payment estimate. That said, knowing the numbers below will really dial things in. To get a more specific monthly cost, shoppers will want to know about any rebates, trade in values, taxes and fees.
Rebates and Cash Down
Does the manufacturer offer rebates? How much will the down payment be? Add up estimates any rebates and cash down amounts and enter them here.
When trading in an old car, put the trade-in allowance here. Generally, dealer trade in estimates from the Kelly Blue Book can be used here.
Amount Owed on Trade
When trading in an old car, put any amount still owed on that vehicle here.
Destination fees and documentation fees apply on all new car purchases. Buyers may also face registration and title fees, license and compliance fees and several others. Unfortunately it’s almost impossible to figure out the amount of all fees before talking with the salesperson.
Sales Tax Rate
The sales tax rate is one of the easiest car payment factors to figure out. Just google any state’s name and the words “sales tax rate” to find out the right number.
The Car Payments Estimate Calculator
Enter as much info about an upcoming car purchase as possible into the calculator below and click “calculate.” The calculator will return a monthly car payment estimate plus the total cost of the car. Click on the other tabs to see a graph of payments over time, payment summary, schedule and more.