Common Car Refinancing Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

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by RateGenius
Updated on: November 6, 2023

As the economy fluctuates and interest rates continue to rise, the allure of refinancing becomes increasingly compelling for buyers. Mainly because there’s no guarantee rates won’t keep climbing. So, there’s less incentive to wait to refinance.

Nonetheless, refinancing a car isn’t a clear-cut process. Some nuances to the process will either save or cost you a significant amount of money, depending on how you play your cards.

Whether you’re looking to save money, lower your monthly payments, or align your car loan with your long-term financial goals, this article equips you with the knowledge to avoid making common mistakes when refinancing a car.

This article will discuss common car refinancing issues and how to avoid them.

What mistakes should you avoid when refinancing a car?

Avoiding fees and maintaining your financial goals will prevent you from making common mistakes when refinancing a car.

Neglecting credit scores and their relationship with the cost of your loan is a common issue in auto refinancing. Understanding your credit score and how it will impact your loan terms is fundamental.

A good credit score combats high interest rates and increases your potential to save money. How you manage your money in your day-to-day life influences your credit score. So, creating and sticking to a budget that works for you is valuable.

High interest rates, long loan terms, unaffordable loans, and not comparing lender terms may affect overall financial goals. Awareness of these missteps helps you navigate auto loan refinancing more effectively.

High interest rate loans

High interest rates are detrimental to your budget. The primary issue with high rates is that a significant portion of each payment goes toward interest rather than reducing the loan principal.

In 2023, Statista reported the average loan interest rate for used cars was 8.18% and 6.98% for new vehicles. Refinancing may be a smart option if your rates are higher.

Refinancing offers borrowers a chance to secure lower interest rates, resulting in reduced monthly payments and substantial long-term savings. Alleviating the burden of high interest loans is widely recommended. That said, if you’re nearly done paying off your current auto loan, or if the new loan doesn’t offer notably better terms, you may wish to stick with your current loan terms.

“Failing to shop around for rates when considering loan refinancing could be a costly oversight.”

Excessively long loan terms

Excessively long loan terms will lead borrowers into a financial pitfall. While they may seem appealing due to their lower monthly payments, these lengthy loan terms result in significantly higher total interest payments.

The longer your loan is active, the more interest it accumulates. In longer loan terms, a more substantial part of each payment is allocated to interest, leaving a smaller portion to chip away at the amount borrowed.

On the other hand, shorter loan terms come with higher monthly payments but significantly lower total interest payments. Striking the right balance that aligns with your financial goals is vital.

Unaffordable loans

Accepting a loan with payments that are too high increases your risk of missing payments and, ultimately, will harm your credit score.

Lenders often evaluate your Debt-to-Income (DTI) ratio as part of the refinancing process. With this in mind, review your monthly income and expenses to determine an affordable payment for yourself.

Consider factors like housing, utilities, groceries, and other essential costs. You want to maintain your ability to cover necessary living expenses and save for the future.

If the auto loan refinancing loan terms do not align with your budget, consider negotiating with the lender or exploring different loan options. Feel free to shop for better agreements to manage your monthly payments comfortably.

Not shopping around for rates

Failing to shop around for rates when considering loan refinancing could be a costly oversight.

Each lender will offer varying interest rates and terms, which can significantly impact the total cost of the loan. You risk missing out on more favorable terms and the potential for substantial savings by only considering one lender.

When comparing rates, focus not just on the interest rate but also on loan terms, fees, and special offers such as zero-percent interest periods.

Pro tip: Streamline your refinancing comparison process through a trusted platform that lets you compare rates from lenders. It’ll make it easier to identify the most competitive refinancing offers.

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What can go wrong with refinancing?

Refinancing goes wrong when borrowers overlook critical factors. Taking a loan outside your means, not shopping around for rates, and taking on excessively long loans may lead to unfavorable outcomes.

As a result, you will see a strain on your budget, you will miss savings opportunities, and you will accumulate higher interest rates. Careful consideration of these factors is imperative to avoid pitfalls in the refinancing process.

“To protect yourself from unexpected costs, take the time to review the terms and conditions of your refinanced loan thoroughly.”

Neglecting credit improvement

Credit scores influence the interest rates and loan terms you qualify for, making them a vital consideration. The better your credit is, the less risky you are, and the lower your interest rates will be.

To enhance your score, reduce credit card balances and avoid opening new lines of credit. Ask for balance increases to extend your line of credit on high-balance cards, too.

It’s wise to consider improving your credit before refinancing to avoid missed opportunities for better loan terms.

Overlooking fees and costs

Understanding the fees associated with refinancing is crucial to avoid unexpected expenses. Ignoring these fees will lead to financial surprises that disrupt your budget. In addition to standard costs like application and credit check fees, be cautious about potential unethical practices by lenders.

To protect yourself from unexpected costs, take the time to review the terms and conditions of your refinanced loan thoroughly. Ensure that you know all potential fees, and if something seems unclear or questionable, seek clarification from your lender.

Ignoring future financial goals

Pay attention to your financial goals when refinancing. Failing to consider how refinancing fits into your long-term financial plans harms your savings.

Refinancing to lower monthly payments is strategic if you aim to free up funds for other important purchases or limited investment opportunities.

On the other hand, if your goal is to pay off your car loan faster and lower overall interest costs, you might opt for a shorter loan term with higher monthly payments.

Aligning auto loan refinancing decisions with your broader financial goals ensures each financial move contributes to your overall economic well-being.

Conclusion: Make informed refinancing decisions

Navigating the car refinancing process can be straightforward and rewarding when well-informed. Equip yourself with the right knowledge to make confident choices and optimize your financial savings.

Understanding the significance of credit improvement, being mindful of fees and costs, and aligning refinancing with your financial goals are required to make the most of the refinancing process.

Be diligent and well-informed when considering car loan refinancing. Doing so empowers you to make choices that save money and pave the way for a healthier financial future.

Learn how much you will save refinancing with RateGenius’s Auto Refinance Calculator!

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About The Author


A better way to refinance your auto loan. RateGenius works with 150+ lenders nationwide to help you save money on your car payments. Since 1999, we've helped customers find the most competitive interest rate to refinance their loans on cars, trucks, and SUVs.

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