Buying a car can be an exciting time, but it can also be stressful. That's especially true if you're not sure what you're looking for or how to get the best deal on the car you really want to purchase. Often, that stress occurs due to issues like financing. You might be asking how long can you finance a used car, or wondering how much the interest rate will be. Cars cost money, and even a used car can mean getting a loan. But the more you know about the life of the loan you're thinking of getting, or how financing a used car will affect your finances, the safer you'll be when it comes to making the right choice.

Your transportation needs are important, but you don't want to buy something that's unaffordable. Doing that will just get you into trouble and could damage your credit and cause a lot of additional concerns in your life. That's why a lot of people choose a longer term for their loan rather than a shorter term, so their payments are lower and easier for them to make. Here's what you really should consider about longer loan terms, interest rates, and other issues when you buy a used car, so you can make the right choice and be happy with your vehicle and its payment in the future.

What's the Maximum Length for a Used Car Loan?

Just like with a new car, you can finance a used car for up to 84 months. That's a long time to have a car payment, but if you're financing an expensive vehicle and/or you need to have lower payments, that length of a loan might be the right one for your needs. Just be sure that you're clear on the interest rate, the life of the loan, and the other terms and conditions that affect your purchase and financing. How long can you finance a used car isn't the only question you should be asking when you're ready to make a purchase.

You also want to ask about the longer loan terms, because auto loans vary. You might even want to shop around with several lenders and see what they can offer you. If you finance through the dealership where you're buying the car you might get a great deal, but you might also see higher rates and terms that aren't as beneficial to you. People with bad credit or people who simply don't have a lot of credit built up yet can find that a dealership will generally charge them a high interest rate.

Working with a bank or credit union, though, can make the experience easier and less stressful. It may also mean that your interest rate will be a lot lower, so you don't have to overpay just because you don't have a lot of strong, established credit. Who you deal with when you buy a used car, and when you finance it, can really make a difference in the type of experience you have. By working with PrivateAuto you can find a car and schedule everything you need to do to make a purchase in your state. It's easy and convenient, so you can buy a vehicle you love and get on with your life.

How long can you finance a used car?
Photo by Kelly Sikkema / Unsplash

Should You Choose a Shorter Loan Term?

Auto loans can be complicated, and if you're thinking about a shorter term for your loan you'll need to remember that your payment will be higher. But you'll also pay your vehicle off faster, so you won't have to worry about the payment for as long of a time period. There are pros and cons to loans of any length, and shorter term loans aren't always better than longer term loans even though they can allow you to pay your vehicle off faster and spend less overall.

You also have to be able to make the payment on the budget you have, and it's good to have a little "wiggle room" in that budget, too. When you choose a longer loan term and lower payment, you may be able to give yourself that room more easily. That can help ensure that your payment gets made, so you lower your risk of falling behind. That could mean a repossessed vehicle, and a black mark on your credit report. Not only would you be out of a way to get around, but getting another car at a later date could be difficult and cost more, too.

Before you choose a vehicle and secure a loan, though, keep in mind that one of the potential problems with a longer loan term is negative equity. That means that, for a while, you may owe more on the car than it's worth. Over time that will change, as you pay down the loan, but it could be an issue for you if you decide to sell the car or trade it in, early in the loan term. You generally want to avoid negative equity if possible, but sometimes it can't be helped and you simply have to take the best deal you're able to get at the time, with your credit and other factors.

Does Your Credit Score Affect the Loan Length?

For many people, their credit score can have an effect on the auto loans they get and how long their loan term is. With a bad credit score, you may have to consider a longer term because the interest rate -- and therefore the payment -- will be higher. In the past, most vehicle loans were no longer than 60 months, and that was for a new car. Now a six or seven year loan isn't surprising at all when purchasing new. That extended time to pay for a car is spilling over into used vehicles, as well.

Used cars were generally financed on 36 or 48 months. But times have changed, and now 60 or 72 months is much more common for used cars along with new ones. While 84 months for a used car isn't as common, it's still possible to finance your vehicle for that long of a time so you can keep the payments where you want them to be for your budget. Cars cost a lot in some cases, even when you're buying used, and paying for the car is something you'll want to consider carefully. That way you can find the right vehicle and the proper terms, too.

Volkswagen Polo 2015
Photo by Jose Carbajal / Unsplash

Where Should You Find the Right Used Vehicle?

To buy a car, you want to select a vehicle you like and can afford, but also one that makes sense for your life situation. For example, someone with a big family probably wouldn't buy a two-seater sports car, unless they already had other vehicles. It just wouldn't be a practical choice. How long can you finance a used car wouldn't be as important of a question as which used car should be chosen.

PrivateAuto makes it easy to buy or sell privately listed vehicles.  Buyers can view vehicles from verified sellers, apply for a loan, and transfer payment.  If you're going to buy a car, we're a safe and secure way to do it. Check out PrivateAuto today, and see what we can offer so you can buy your next used car with ease!