If you need another vehicle but your current one has negative equity, you may be able to roll it over onto your next auto loan. But just how much negative equity can you roll over, and how much should you? Here’s some guidance.
Roll Over Amounts Can Vary
When you owe more on the vehicle than it’s worth, it’s called being underwater on your loan or being in a negative equity position.
Some borrowers that are underwater on their car loan consider rolling the negative equity onto their next auto loan. Depending on how much negative equity you have, you may be able to roll all of it over – but it depends on your budget, what you qualify for, and the lender you're working with.
The more negative equity your car has, the harder it can be to sell or trade in your vehicle. If your auto loan is hundreds or even thousands of dollars more than what your car’s current market value is, then selling it for what you actually owe becomes a challenge.
Odds are, the amount of negative equity your vehicle has is going to be unique to you. Determining how much negative equity your car has means comparing your existing loan balance to the vehicle’s current value.
Rolling Over Your Vehicle’s Negative Equity
When you roll over your negative equity you're adding the difference between your car's value and your loan amount onto your next auto loan.
If you have $1,000 of negative equity on your current vehicle, and you purchase a vehicle for $10,000, your next loan balance would be $11,000 with the negative equity rolled in. You’re essentially combining your loan balances into one, so it’s similar to debt consolidation.
However, whether or not this is possible depends on how much you can reasonably afford. A lender may not approve a loan that exceeds the next car’s value by too much because lenders also take into account your loan-to-value ratio.
A loan-to-value, or LTV, ratio is your loan amount compared to a car’s actual cash value (ACV). It’s calculated by dividing your loan amount by your ACV, and it’s typically expressed as a percentage. Most auto lenders typically have a maximum loan-to-value ratio of around 125%. This means that your vehicle’s loan shouldn’t exceed more than around 125% of it’s value.
Since rolling over negative equity means adding to the total balance of your next auto loan, depending on how much negative equity your current car has, it could exceed that common 125% rule.
How much negative equity you can roll over also depends on your personal situation. Every lender varies in their requirements, and everyone’s circumstances are different – and that includes how much income and available income they have. If your loan balance with the negative equity factored in creates a high monthly payment that your available income just doesn’t have room for, you’re not likely to get approved for the auto loan either.
Believe it or not, lenders don’t want to approve car loans that overextend borrowers. And they prefer to approve loan amounts that are comparable or close to the vehicle’s value.
Consider the Trade-In Treadmill
If you’re always rolling over negative equity on your auto loans, then you may be on the trade-in treadmill. It’s commonly defined as a cycle of being underwater on your car loan, and opting to just roll that negative equity each time you buy.
It’s an easy cycle to fall into, too.
Because rolling over negative equity means increasing how much you need to borrow, it also means more interest charges, and possibly, longer loan terms to make the monthly payments more affordable. Before you know it, you’re struggling to pay off the loan quickly enough to keep up with the vehicle’s depreciation (loss of value over time).
Each time you roll over negative equity, you’re likely to start your next auto loan in a negative equity position again because you likely borrowed more than what the vehicle is worth.
Getting off the trade-in treadmill can be as easy as waiting until your loan balance catches up with your vehicle’s value. Staying current on your auto loan and keeping your vehicle in good shape can help you catch up, or even making extra payments when you’re able to can help. Over time, your car’s depreciation usually slows down, too, if you maintain it.
Bad Credit Auto Loans and Negative Equity
Many bad credit borrowers can find themselves in a negative equity position if their interest rate is high which makes it hard to pay down their loan quickly. Since your credit score is typically the most important factor in determining your interest rate, a borrower with credit issues may be more likely to have an underwater auto loan due to interest charges and a high loan balance.
Fortunately, one of the better ways to improve your credit score is by taking on new credit that improves it. An auto loan that’s reported to your credit reports means your timely payments are reported, too. If you maintain a good payment history on your car loan, it could mean ending the loan with a better credit score than when you started.
Subprime auto loans are reported to the credit bureaus, and they’re typically for borrowers with credit challenges such as bankruptcy, no credit, situational bad credit, and other tough credit situations.
If your current car loan isn’t helping you improve your credit score, it may be time to consider a subprime car loan that’s reported to repair your credit. A higher credit score means a better chance at auto loan approval and qualifying for better a lower interest rate next time around.
Need Auto Loan Resources?
At Auto Credit Express, we know how tough it can be for borrowers with credit challenges to find a lender that can help them get the vehicle they need. And trying to find a lender can be time-consuming and a hassle – so let us help you!
We’ve cultivated a coast-to-coast network of dealers that are signed up with subprime lenders that specialize in assisting borrowers with unique credit situations. If you’re in need of a car loan and you’re not sure where to go, let us guide the way. Fill out our completely free, no-obligation auto loan request form. We’ll look for a dealership in your local area that’s signed up with bad credit lenders.