How Much Should My Car Down Payment Be

You know it’s time to buy a new car. Ol’ Bessie is sputtering at every turn and you’ve been saving up for what feels like a decade. But how do you know if you have enough cash saved up to buy a car? Most folks will say you should make a down payment that’s at least 20% of the vehicle purchase price, but you might be able to get away with a different amount. Learn more about car loan down payments and how to choose the amount that’s best for you.

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The Lowdown on Car Loan Down Payments

Unless you have enough cash on hand to pay for a car outright, you’ll need auto financing. Most people do! Financing helps you buy a vehicle and then pay for it over a period of time. Your down payment is the amount of cash you pay, upfront, to buy the vehicle.

Your down payment is an important part of the auto financing process, since it:

  • Reduces the amount of the loan you need to buy a car
  • Reduces the amount owed in case the lender has to repossess the car
  • Could increase your chances of being approved for a car loan
  • Could help you secure a lower interest rate and better terms for your loan
  • Can help lower your monthly payment and total amount paid
  • Provides you with equity in your vehicle
  • Could help you qualify for a more expensive, higher end car

What is a Good Down Payment?

Many experts advise putting down 20%, but this isn’t a hard and fast rule. The amount of money you put down will vary depending on a variety of factors, including:

  • Your credit profile: This is the most important factor in determining how much money you should put down for a car. If you have an exceptional credit history, you may be able to get away with a small down payment or find yourself eligible for one of the coveted “zero down payment” offers. If you have bad credit or no credit, you may be required to make a higher down payment.
  • The price of the vehicle: The pricier the car, the more you will usually need to put down. Then again, if you have an exceptional credit score, you may be able to go with a lower down payment. Your credit profile still reigns as one of the most important factors in determining your down payment amount.
  • Your desired monthly payment: The more money you put down, the less you will need to borrow. The less you borrow, the lower your monthly payments will be! Play around with myAutoloan’s Advanced Auto Loan Payment Calculator to see how your down payment plays into your monthly payment.

Run the numbers early on to give yourself a clear savings goal to work toward. To get an idea of what these numbers look like in real life, check out the table below. It offers a quick look at various vehicle prices, down payment amounts, and the resulting auto financing you’d need in order to purchase the vehicle.

Down Payment Quick Look Table
Vehicle Price Percent of Vehicle Price Down Payment Amount Amount Financed
$10,000 10% $1,000 $9,000
$15,000 10% $1,500 $13,500
$20,000 10% $2,000 $18,000
$25,000 10% $2,500 $22,500
$30,000 10% $3,000 $27,000
$10,000 20% $2,000 $8,000
$15,000 20% $3,000 $12,000
$20,000 20% $4,000 $$16,000
$25,000 20% $5,000 $20,000
$30,000 20% $6,000 $24,000

In the end, how much money you put down to buy a car is up to you. Down payment amounts will vary from driver to driver. Use myAutoloan loan calculators and interest rate estimators to get a better idea of where you stand. Then apply for an auto loan the fast and easy way! Submit one application and view up to four loan offers in minutes!