Best and worst states for financing a new car

The Car Connection


Previously, we told you how all 50 states rank when it comes to the cost of car ownership. Now, the folks at GoBankingRates.com have published a related set of rankings, based on one of the biggest factors in ownership costs: interest rates on auto loans.

The average auto loan rate is the U.S. is currently 3.65 percent. On the whole, drivers out West have a better shot at getting a low-interest car loan, while those in the North East pay considerably more -- typically 4 percent or above.

That said, the cheapest place to take out an auto loan is in America's car capital, Michigan, boasting an average interest rate of just 3.03 percent. That number can fall even further if drivers finance their rides through credit unions, where the state's lowest rate on a 48-month loan clocked in at just 1.49 percent.

All told, the five cheapest states for loans are:

Michigan (3.03%)
Oregon (3.04%)
Alaska (3.04%)
New Hampshire (3.08%)
South Carolina (3.15%)

At the other end of the scale, we find Rhode Island, where the average auto loan comes with an interest rate of 5.11 percent. With the exception of New York and Maine, other states in the North East didn't fare much better. Here are the five most expensive states for auto financing:

Rhode Island (5.11%)
Connecticut (4.82%)
New Jersey (4.47%)
Massachusetts (4.21%)
Louisiana (4.20%)

If you're in the market for a new car, take our advice and secure your auto loan before heading off to the showrooms. You'll have time to explore a wider range of options, giving you a better chance to score a better rate.

When you go at it the other way -- shopping first, then securing a loan -- you can find yourself over a barrel. For starters, you'll often be pressured to buy immediately: "I've got three other people looking at that same car this afternoon!" That, in turn, can lead you to arrange financing through the dealership, which is usually a terrible idea. As CarsDirect's Christian Gulliksen points out, "The rate a dealer presents may not be the rate a bank offered – dealers often add a point or two and pocket the difference as profit."

Got any other tips for saving cash on car loans? Or maybe some horror stories of your own? Share them in the comments below.
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