Edmunds: 5 tips for lowering your car payment

AP

Print Article

FILE - In this Aug. 30, 2018, file photo, a salesperson, center, confers with two customers interested in the 2018 Countryman on display in the showroom of a Mini dealership in Highlands Ranch, Colo. Choosing a smaller vehicle, leasing, or buying a used vehicle are a few of the recommended methods in lowering a car payment. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File)

New- and used-car monthly payments reached a record high in the first half of 2019, according to Edmunds transaction data. The average new-car monthly payment in the first half of 2019 was $556, which marks a 20% increase since 2008. Used-car payments also remained high, averaging $409 a month.

"Consumers are racking up higher monthly payments as their purchases are leaning more toward SUVs and trucks," said Ivan Drury, senior manager of insights for Edmunds. "They're also increasingly selecting expensive options and higher trim levels, and that's a recipe for ever-increasing monthly payments," he added.

While payments have been trending upward for most shoppers, it doesn't mean the same is in store for you. With a little research and savvy shopping, it's possible to find a new vehicle without overspending and lower your monthly payments in the process. Or if you're already stuck with a high monthly payment, we have a couple of solutions.

PURCHASE A USED VEHICLE INSTEAD

Buying a used vehicle is the most cost-effective way to own a car and lower your payments. Used vehicles have already depreciated and are generally less expensive than their new equivalents. In June, the average loan was $10,643 lower for used vehicles than for new. If you shop for a model between 2 and 4 years old, you are likelier to find certified pre-owned vehicles. These certified vehicles have a strong warranty plus a number of other benefits.

DOWNSIZE YOUR VEHICLE OR ITS OPTIONS

If you want to stick with a new vehicle, your best bet is to either choose a lower-priced trim level or a smaller model. For example, let's say you wanted a 2020 Kia Telluride, one of Edmunds' top picks for a family SUV. The base LX model starts at $32,735, including destination fees. Kia prices the fully loaded SX model at $42,535, a difference of nearly $10,000.

Going with the SX does mean you'll miss out on a few luxury features. But the Telluride LX is hardly bare-bones. The same is true of a lot of other new cars.

The alternative would be to shop for a smaller vehicle. The 2019 Honda CR-V, for example, is another top-rated SUV. It seats two fewer but offers fairly comparable cargo space. The manufacturer's suggested price for a respectably equipped CR-V EX is just $28,445.

LEASE THE VEHICLE

Monthly payments are less expensive for a lease than for a traditional vehicle purchase since you're essentially paying off a smaller amount (the vehicle's depreciation plus taxes and fees) for a shorter period of time. The average lease payment was $477 in June, but you can easily find deals for less since luxury vehicles tend to inflate the average.

That said, this option will cost you more in the long run since you don't own the vehicle and can't rely on the equity for the next purchase. But if you're looking for a shorter-term solution or simply like driving a new vehicle every few years, leasing is a viable option.

TRADE IT IN

What if you're already making payments on a car but realized that you paid too much? You'll first need to determine if you have equity in the vehicle. If you do, selling your car directly to a car dealership that specializes in quick trade-ins is the easiest way to get out from under a car loan you can no longer handle. CarMax is one good avenue. You might even have some money in your pocket to put toward another car purchase preferably one with more manageable payments.

REFINANCE THE LOAN

If you need to keep the car, being in an equity position should allow you to refinance your current loan. Interest rates are high these days, so you might not be able to find a refinance rate that's lower than your current loan. But by stretching out the loan term through refinancing, you'll get more manageable payments. You'll likely end up paying more in interest, of course, but that is secondary when your goal is to keep your car.

You might be able to refinance with your current lender, but it may make more sense to look into a credit union or your personal bank. These institutions may be able to offer you lower interest rates.

EDMUNDS SAYS: Here are a few proactive measures to secure a lower payment: Buy the right car for your needs, recognizing that it might not be the car of your dreams; factor in the extra costs of car ownership ahead of time; and stay well within your budget instead of pushing it to the max.

____

This story was provided to The Associated Press by the automotive website Edmunds. Ronald Montoya is a senior consumer advice editor at Edmunds. Twitter: @ronald_montoya8.

Related links:

Edmunds: Buy New, Buy Used or Lease? - https://edmu.in/2wmv0l8

Edmunds: How to Get Out of a Bad Car Loan - https://edmu.in/2CqEjWq

Edmunds: How to Get Out of Your Lease the Cheap and Easy Way - https://edmu.in/2EZgWmh

Print Article

Read More Lifestyles

Milestone Announcements

August 25, 2019 at 5:00 am | Coeur d'Alene Press ANNIVERSARY Walter and Grace Singer 65th Anniversary Walter and Grace (Myers) Singer were married Aug. 29, 1954, at St. Stanislaus Church and currently reside in Post Falls on the Spokane River....

Comments

Read More

Tropical Storm Dorian strengthens as it moves west

AP

August 25, 2019 at 2:40 pm | MIAMI (AP) Forecasters say the fourth tropical storm of the Atlantic hurricane season has strengthened as it moves toward the Lesser Antilles. The U.S. National Hurricane Center said Sunday tha...

Comments

Read More

Average US price of gas down 8 cents per gallon to $2.66

AP

August 25, 2019 at 10:47 am | CAMARILLO, Calif. (AP) The average U.S. price of regular-grade gasoline has dropped 8 cents per gallon (3.8 liters) over the past two weeks to $2.66. Industry analyst Trilby Lundberg of the Lun...

Comments

Read More

Extinction bites: countries agree to protect sharks and rays

AP

August 25, 2019 at 8:01 am | GENEVA (AP) Countries have agreed to protect more than a dozen shark species at risk of extinction, in a move aimed at conserving some of the ocean's most awe-inspiring creatures who have themselve...

Comments

Read More

Contact Us

(208) 664-8176
215 N. Second St
Coeur d'Alene, Idaho 83814

©2019 The Coeur d'Alene Press Terms of Use Privacy Policy
X
X