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Complete Guide to Using a Personal Loan to Finance Auto Repair Expenses

Complete Guide to Using a Personal Loan to Finance Auto Repair Expenses
Kelly Boyer Sagert
Kelly Boyer SagertUpdated January 26, 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.
Plenty of types of personal loans exist — or, more accurately, a type of personal loan that can be used for multiple purposes, including to pay for car repairs. This post will guide you through reasons why a personal loan for car repairs can make sense; what you’d likely need to do to get financing; alternatives to personal loans; and more.

Why Get a Personal Loan for Car Repair? 

As far as what a personal loan is, here is a quick overview: personal installment loans mean a borrower applies for a certain dollar amount. Once a loan is approved, the funds are provided to the borrower in a lump sum and paid back to the lender in regular monthly installments. Payments are based on the interest rate charged and the loan’s term. Key benefits of personal loans include these three:
  • Fast funding
  • Money given in a lump sum
  • Usually requires no collateral
Here’s more about each of the benefits of personal loans.

Fast Funding

If car problems are keeping you off the road or causing challenges when you drive, you’ll want a quick solution. A personal loan for auto repair can be ideal because you can often get the funding within days, especially with a lender that operates online. What follows is more  information about quick personal loans

The Money Is a Lump Sum 

A personal loan is approved for a certain dollar amount and then disbursed all in one lump sum. This allows you to pay for the current auto repairs and, if you’ll have bills from more than one repair shop, you can use your loan amount to pay each of them. 

Usually Requires No Collateral 

Typically, personal loans are unsecured, which means that you don’t have to put your car up for collateral (or anything else when it’s an unsecured loan). If you can’t repay your loan on agreed-upon terms, the lender therefore can’t repossess any collateral (although there would still be significant financial/credit score consequences). 

How to Get a Personal Loan for a Car Repair 

As far as personal loan requirements, lenders often want to see:
  • Good credit scores: In general, lenders offer better interest rates when an applicant has a higher credit score because this indicates that they can be responsible with debt management, which makes them less of a risk for the lender.
  • Proof of income and employment: Financial institutions also typically want to verify that you have steady income and that it will be adequate to pay your debts, including the personal loan for car repairs.
  • Debt-to-income ratio (DTI) that fits within their guidelines: The DTI compares your gross monthly income (pre-tax) to monthly debt payments with lower DTIs preferable to higher ones. To calculate yours divide your total monthly debt payments by your monthly income and that percentage is your DTI ratio.
High-level steps to get a personal loan include the following:
  • Research and compare lenders
  • Select the loan option you like the most
  • Complete the application

Research and Compare Lenders 

Lenders have plenty of leeway in their personal loan programs. During your research, check the interest rate and APR; applicable fees; and loan term. What would your payment be?Also, make sure that you can borrow the amount you need with a personal loan for auto repairs; how quickly you can get the money (and if that timeline is workable for your situation); and whether you’d be required to put the vehicle up as collateral (secured personal loan) or not (unsecured personal loan).

Select the Loan Option You Like Most 

After you’ve compared your loan options, prioritize them and then decide which one is at the top of your list. Find out how you’ll need to fill out the application (online, for example, or in person). 

Complete the Application 

You’ll need to fill in personal information, such as your name, date of birth, Social Security number, address, and phone number. You’ll likely need to prove your identity through a driver’s license or other state-issued ID, and perhaps another form. You’ll probably need to verify your employment and income and provide proof of your address. 

Get the Money 

With a personal loan, you’ll typically receive your funds in a lump sum, which you can use to pay for your car repairs.

Alternatives to Getting a Personal Loan for a Car Repair 

Although there are benefits to a personal loan for auto repairs, other options exist. Other types of auto repair loans include:
  • Payday loans
  • Credit cards
  • Auto equity loans
  • Mechanic financing
Here’s more about each option. 

Payday Loans 

If you’re short on cash now but expect to have the money to pay for repairs soon, you can explore payday loans. Payday lenders will offer funds for a short amount of time, often based on how much you earn. Note that these loans almost always come with very high interest rates.

Credit Cards 

If you have a credit card or plan to apply for one, it's possible to pay for your auto repairs this way, if it fits within your credit limit. If your credit card offers reward or cash back points, this can be a plus. If you exhaust the money on your card, however, your credit rating could suffer. Note that credit cards typically come with higher interest rates than personal loans. 

Auto Equity Loan 

If you’ve got equity in your vehicle, you may be able to get an auto equity loan, which is a form of refinancing. If the car is paid off, then its equity is equal to its current value and a lender may allow you to borrow up to a certain percentage of that value. If there’s still a loan on the vehicle, then the equity is the value minus the loan. You may get a better interest rate on this kind of loan but, if payments aren’t made, then the vehicle could be repossessed.

Mechanic Financing 

You can ask the mechanic who will repair your car if they offer financing. If so, compare what they offer with other options mentioned here. 

Personal Loan Rates From Lantern 

Car repair loans can help you get your vehicle fixed and running again, and options to consider include a personal loan for auto repairs. At Lantern, you can fill out one convenient application and compare personal loan rates by lenders.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you use a personal loan for car repairs?
Where can you get an auto repair loan?
What can an auto repair loan cover?
Can you get an auto repair loan with bad credit?
Photo credit: iStock/sefa ozel

About the Author

Kelly Boyer Sagert

Kelly Boyer Sagert

Kelly Boyer Sagert is an Emmy Award-nominated writer with decades of professional writing experience. As she was getting her writing career off the ground, she spent several years working at a savings and loan institution, working in the following departments: savings, loans, IRAs, and auditing. She has published thousands of pieces online and in print.
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