Calculating your chances of getting an auto loan has become much easier over the years thanks to online tools – like our Car Loan Estimator. However, you have to put accurate information in to get reasonable estimates out. Otherwise, your results will only be a stab in the dark.

Why it’s Important to Know Your Information

Accuracy is important or you’ll be in for a big surprise when you get to the dealership. Though specifics vary by site, auto loan tools all use the same basic formula to calculate an estimated car loan amount.

When using one, you’ll want your credit score and your gross monthly income to be accurate. Guessing at these will change the amount of your estimated loan, and it won’t help if you research vehicles in a specific price range if that price range is way off.

For example: You figure you make at least $2,300 a month, and your credit’s not that bad, so you enter a minimum credit score of 575 (situational bad credit) in the calculator. The result is an estimated loan amount of $18,400. But if your credit score is actually 540 (bad credit) and you only gross $1,800 a month, the estimate you’ll receive is $12,600. That difference of $5,800 can make an important impact on the vehicle you’ll be eligible to finance.

Keep in mind that these online tools only estimate amounts. The more accurate the information entered, the better your estimate. Actual approval amounts only come from lenders, and Auto Credit Express is not a lender.

What If I Don’t Know My Information?

online calculatorIf you’re not sure what your credit score looks like, or are unclear how to find your gross monthly income, the good news is that this information is relatively easy to find.

It’s always a good idea to get to know your credit before you shop for auto financing. This way, you’ll know what the lenders are seeing as they contemplate your approval. Remember, credit scores and credit reports differ, but they’re both important.

Lenders use your credit reports to see how successful you’ve been with credit in the past, and credit scores to help determine the interest rate. You can get a free copy of your credit reports once every 12 months by visiting, and credit scores can be obtained for free from any number of credit services such as Credit Karma or Discover Credit Scorecard.

Gross income is the amount of money you make before taxes are taken out. This can be found on your check stubs, but you may have to add a few numbers together for a monthly total if you’re paid weekly or biweekly.

Another way to locate an estimate of your gross monthly income is to multiply your hourly wage by the number of hours you work in a week, and then multiply that by 4.33. Using the 4.33 calculation allows you to get a monthly average that takes all 52 weeks of the year into account. As a general rule, most lenders who work with bad credit require a minimum gross monthly income of $1,500 to $2,000.

Know Before You Go

Knowing the proper information to input into online tools can help you research your options before you approach a dealership. Your odds of auto loan approval will, however, of course rest with the lender you visit. That’s why it’s important to go to a lender that can help with your specific credit situation.

At Auto Credit Express, we work with special finance dealers across the country that have lenders available to work with many credit situations. Let us help point you toward one in your area. Simply fill out our auto loan request form to get started today.