How Long Does it Take to Finalize a Car Loan?

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Even with poor credit.

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Megan Foukes is a recent graduate from Indiana University who graduated with a bachelor’s in journalism. Megan works as a content writer for Auto Credit Express and contributes to several automotive and finance blogs.


, - October 11, 2018

If you’re thinking of financing a vehicle, you may be wondering how long it takes to apply for and finalize a car loan. With careful planning, you can complete the entire process in a day.

How Long Does Finance Approval Take?

Whether you apply with a bank, credit union, or other lender, getting approved for an auto loan doesn’t take long. You can visit a lender’s website to apply online and fill out their form. You need to have information related to your income, address, and employment ready. Depending on the lender and the information you provide, you can get a response on whether or not you’re approved in as soon as a few minutes.

How Long Does it Take to Buy a Used Car?

Just how long it takes to buy a used vehicle ultimately depends on how well you prepare for the car buying process. Before you walk into a dealership, you should see if you can get pre-approved for a car loan from your bank or credit union. If they turn you down, you typically then need a special finance lender. But before you look for a lender, there are five things you should do to make the auto loan application process quicker:

  1. Know your credit score – The first thing you need to know is where your credit stands. You can get your FICO credit score from many sources, including for free from certain credit card providers or for a fee directly from myFICO.com. You’re also entitled to a free copy of your credit report every 12 months from each of the three credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.
  2. Research cars – What type of vehicle do you need, and what do you want out of it? Look up different cars and their ratings to see what works best for you.
  3. Calculate a budget – Lenders look at your debt to income (your ability to pay for the car) and payment to income (your monthly payment compared to your income) ratios to determine your ability to finance a vehicle. Make sure you have enough available income for any car you’re considering.
  4. Use online tools – In addition to calculating a budget, you can use online tools and calculators to give you an estimate on what your car loan might look like.
  5. Consider a cosigner – Subprime lenders sometimes require a cosigner for an approval. Even if this isn’t a requirement, you may still want to have a cosigner available to increase your chances of an approval.

Finally, once you get to the dealership, be sure you test drive the vehicle and, if it’s used, check that everything works properly by having a certified mechanic and body specialist inspect it. You don’t want to buy a car with mechanical issues or body damage.

Ready to Start?

Ready to get the process going, but don’t know where to look for the right dealer? Let CarsDirect help out. We work with dealerships across America that have the lenders available to work with people dealing with a wide range of credit challenges. Getting the process started is simple. Fill out our online auto loan request form, and we’ll get to work matching you with a local dealer right now!

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Megan Foukes is a recent graduate from Indiana University who graduated with a bachelor’s in journalism. Megan works as a content writer for Auto Credit Express and contributes to several automotive and finance blogs.


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