There’s no limit on how many times you can refinance your car loan, but it may not be a good idea to do it more than once. We cover how refinancing works, and some advice on refinancing your auto loan multiple times.
Refinancing an Auto Loan More Than Once
It certainly is possible to refinance your car loan more than once, since there’s no rule that says otherwise. However, whether or not it’s a good idea to refinance multiple times depends on how you do it. And, you may not qualify for refinancing again once you’ve already done it.
Most of the time, borrowers refinance their car loans to get a lower monthly payment. This is done by either lowering your interest rate or lengthening your loan term (sometimes both). Qualifying for a lower interest rate is a great way to save money on your loan, but simply extending your loan term generally isn’t a good idea without qualifying for a lower interest rate.
This is especially true if you refinance to a longer loan term more than once. Extending your auto loan multiple times draws out how long you have a car payment, which increases your interest charges. Auto loans are typically simple interest loans, so your interest charges add up based on your auto loan balance.
If you always extend your loan, you're always going to rack up more interest charges – the higher your interest rate, the more you pay. This can lead to years of paying off the same vehicle and possibly paying more for it than it’s worth. If you’ve already refinanced your car and extended your loan term, then doing it again means paying more for the same vehicle.
Qualifying for Auto Refinancing Multiple Times
The most difficult part of getting approved for refinancing can be having a vehicle that qualifies. Most refinance lenders require that the vehicle be less than 10 years old and have less than 100,000 miles on it. If your vehicle is older, and/or you drive a lot, refinancing may not be possible – it only gets harder as time goes on and the vehicle depreciates.
If you’ve qualified for refinancing in the past and want to try again, it could be more difficult the second time around. A lender may see that you’ve already refinanced your auto loan and may be hesitant to approve you again. Refinancing the same car loan multiple times could be a sign of overextension – your auto loan may be too big for you to chew and they may take notice.
If you’re not sure that refinancing your vehicle for the second time is possible or you’re concerned you don’t qualify, trading in the car for a more manageable loan could be the next step.
Trading In a Challenging Auto Loan
A very common way to upgrade a vehicle or get a more manageable car loan payment is by trading it in for something more affordable. Most dealerships accept trade-ins, and the money you receive from a dealer could be applied to your next vehicle’s down payment to lower the selling price.
For a trade-in to help you with your next car purchase, it needs to have equity. Equity is when you owe less on the loan than what the vehicle is worth. The actual cash value (ACV) of your trade-in is determined by the dealer after they appraise your vehicle. You can't find the ACV ahead of time, but you can look up estimated values on websites such as Kelley Blue Book or NADAguides. Once you have an estimated value of your vehicle, compare it to your current loan balance to find out if there's equity in your car.
If you find that your loan balance is higher than a possible trade-in value, you have negative equity – also called being upside-down. An auto loan in a negative equity position doesn’t help you lower the selling price of your next vehicle.
Additionally, it can be harder to remove the lien from the title in this position, because you have to finish paying your loan before you can trade-in your car. Without equity, you have to come up with the money to pay your lender out of pocket. Often you can combine cash with trade-in equity to come up with the amount you need. However, if you're unable to do this, you may be able to roll over the negative equity onto your next loan.
Finding a dealership that can take your trade-in may be somewhat easy, even if it requires a little legwork. As we mentioned, most dealers accept trade-ins, and they prep them to be resold on their lots. It’s a good idea to call around to dealerships in your area and get some estimates over the phone, and we recommend calling at least one franchised dealership that sells your vehicle’s make, since you may get a higher offer from them.
Finding a Resources for Your Situation
Finding a lender that can refinance your car loan might prove difficult, especially if you’ve already refinanced before. If you’d like some more resources and information on refinancing a car loan, we want to help you find those here.
Even if most dealerships do accept trade-ins, you may not always be able to work with their lenders. It's not always easy locating a dealership that can assist with bad credit situations, and qualifying for refinancing can be hard with poor credit, too.
There are dealers that are signed up with bad credit lenders, but they don’t always stick out from the crowd. Here at Auto Credit Express, we aim to make it easier for borrowers to find dealerships that specialize in helping those with poor credit. To get matched to a dealer in your area with the lender resources for tough credit situations, fill out our free auto loan request form.