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How to Calculate the LTV Ratio of Your Car

How to Calculate the LTV Ratio of Your Car; The loan to value ratio of your car will be important to know. Learn how to calculate it from Lantern by SoFi.
Austin Kilham
Austin KilhamUpdated August 15, 2022
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Editor’s note: Lantern by SoFi seeks to provide content that is objective, independent and accurate. Writers are separate from our business operation and do not receive direct compensation from advertisers or partners. Read more about our Editorial Guidelines and How We Make Money.
Your loan-to-value (LTV) ratio is one of the metrics auto lenders use to help them assess their risk if they offer you a loan when you’re hoping to buy a new car or refinance an old auto loan.The ratio helps them compare the size of the loan to the value of the car that secures it. As the size of a loan increases in relation to value, the LTV ratio goes up, which signifies that the lender is taking on more risk. That’s typically something they’re not eager to do.Calculating LTV yourself can be an important tool to help you determine how easy or how hard it may be for you to secure a loan and whether you might need to make a down payment. 

What Is a Loan-to-Value (LTV) Ratio?

A loan-to-value ratio is a comparison between how much you’re borrowing and the value of the asset that will be used as collateral for that loan. In the case of an auto loan, the LTV compares the amount of the loan and the value of the car that’s securing the loan. LTV can be used for any secured debt and is a frequent metric for banks deciding whether to offer mortgages to potential homebuyers. Recommended: Check out this primer to learn more about auto loan terminology.

How to Calculate the LTV of Your Car

If you’re interested in calculating an LTV ratio for a car, first divide the amount of the loan by the appraised value of the vehicle. Then multiply the result by 100 to express the LTV as a percentage. The formula to calculate LTV is:  (Loan amount/appraised value of asset) x 100 =  LTVFor example, if you borrow $25,000 to buy a $25,000 car, your LTV will be ($25,000/$25,000) x 100, or 100%. But perhaps you want to borrow more money than the car is worth—say you add the price protection products like mechanical breakdown protection. In that case, your LTV could be greater than 100%. For example, if you borrow $27,000 to buy a $25,000 vehicle, your LTV will be ($27,000/$25,000) x 100, or 108%. However, if you’re able to pay for some of the car in cash, you may not need to borrow the full value. In that case, your LTV could be less than 100%. So if you borrowed $22,000 to buy a $25,000 car, your LTV would be ($22,000/$25,000) x 100, or 88%. You can find the value of a new or used vehicle by looking it up in Edmund’s or the Kelley Blue Book. 

Using a Combined LTV for More Than One Loan

A combined loan-to-value ratio (CLTV) is a metric most commonly used to measure how much outstanding debt there is against a home, including all liens and loans. In some cases, a CLTV might be used for auto loans as well. For example, say you’re trying to refinance your auto loan, if you have an old auto loan and a personal loan taken out against the equity you’ve built up in your car, a new lender might use CLTV. You can calculate CLTV ratios by adding up the total balance of all outstanding loans and dividing by the value of the vehicle.

What Is a Good LTV Ratio?

Every lender will have its own rules about what LTV ratios are acceptable. But in general, an LTV of more than 115% may make it difficult to acquire a loan on a new vehicle. Allowable LTVs may be slightly higher for refinancing, and lenders may offer loans with LTVs up to 125% for refis.Lenders who allow loans over these limits may be stricter on some other requirements, such as asking for a higher credit score or a lower debt-to-income ratio, to offset some of the perceived risk of a higher LTV. 

Why Do Lenders Use the LTV Ratio?

When lenders loan out money, they do so with the expectation that the borrower will pay back the loan. However, inevitably some borrowers will default on their loans, saddling the bank with their outstanding debt.To protect themselves, lenders may require collateral that they can repossess and sell to recoup some of what the borrower owed if the borrower defaults on the loan. In the case of auto loans, the vehicle itself typically serves as collateral. One might think the ability to sell the repossessed vehicle would cover the bank’s risk, yet this isn’t necessarily the case. Cars can depreciate in value quickly, and lenders may not be able to cover all of their losses simply by seizing the car. The LTV ratio helps lenders determine how much risk they’re taking on, and it gives them an idea of how much debt they might be on the hook for if the borrower defaults. The higher the LTV, the more risk the lender is taking on, and the more money they might lose should the borrower fail to repay the car loan principal and any interest charges that may apply. For example, if you have an LTV of 110% and you default on the loan, your lender is only going to be able to recoup 100% of the market value of the car at the time of default. At the very least, the extra 10% loan amount on top of the value of your vehicle represents the risk the lender is taking on. Lenders typically set maximum LTVs in order to limit the amount of risk they expose themselves to. 

What Is the Effect of LTV on Interest Rate?

Because a higher LTV means more risk for lenders, they will do what they can to offset that risk. One tactic they may use is charging higher finance charges on your car loan. These higher rates mean a larger monthly payment for you, and you’ll pay more for your car over the life of the loan. If you can, it’s a good idea to avoid higher interest rates by lowering your LTV. The easiest way to do this is by making a larger down payment, which your lender may require before it even considers loaning you the money.

The Takeaway

LTV is an important metric that helps lenders assess their willingness to offer you a loan. But it’s also an important number for you to keep in mind to help ensure you receive the loan that works best for you. A lower LTV can reduce the cost of refinancing and make it more likely that you'll be offered a loan that you can afford. And the easiest way to keep your LTV down is by saving enough money to make a down payment on your vehicle. If you’re ready to refinance your auto loan, Lantern by SoFi can help. Just fill out one simple form and explore your options.Compare auto refinance rates with Lantern.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is an LTV Ratio?
Why is the LTV ratio important?
How do you calculate the LTV ratio for your car?
How do lenders use the LTV ratio?

About the Author

Austin Kilham

Austin Kilham

Austin Kilham is a writer and journalist based in Los Angeles. He focuses on personal finance, retirement, business, and health care with an eye toward helping others understand complex topics.
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