How low can auto loan rates go? Try zero

Tara Baukus MelloHow low can your auto loan rates go?

Try zero percent.

Financing a car is getting easier thanks to loosening credit, and the timing is good because many automakers are offering zero percent car loan rates to qualified buyers while auto loan rates from banks are also on the decline.

Zero percent offers abound from the Chrysler Group. It's offering the rate on all of its models across its Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep and Ram trucks except for the Dodge Challenger and Ram 2500 and 3500 models, which have a 1.9 percent auto loan rate available.

Ford is offering zero percent on most of its lineup across its Ford, Lincoln and Mercury brands. Excluded from the promotion are all Ford, Lincoln and Mercury hybrid models as well as Ford Shelby GT500, Edge SE AWD, Taurus SE, F-150 Raptor and Transit Connect.

General Motors is offering zero percent loans on Chevrolet Malibu, Traverse and Silverado; GMC Acadia and Sierra; and Cadillac CTS, CTS-V and CTS Sport Wagon as well as 1.9 percent and 2.9 percent deals on several other models.

In addition to other incentives, Toyota is offering zero percent loans on its Avalon, Highlander, Matrix and RAV4 models.

While Honda is pushing its leasing offers currently, it is still offering a low 0.9 percent auto loan rate on its Accord Crosstour, Accord sedan, Civic coupe and sedan, Fit and Pilot models, as well as 1.9 percent on Odyssey and Ridgeline.

While these deals are accurate for this week, keep in mind that they can be changed or withdrawn by the automakers at any time. Since only some buyers will qualify to take advantage of the zero percent incentives mentioned here, use Bankrate's car rebate vs. low-interest calculator to determine whether a cash rebate or cut-rate financing is the better deal.

And if you're pricing car loan rates at banks, it's a brave new auto loan world.

Two years ago, consumers with less-than-stellar credit couldn't catch a break from the bank unless they made a large down payment or found someone with better credit to act as a co-signer.

Now, with the same credit, those consumers are getting loans on their own with no money down as long as they are gainfully employed and aren't upside down in their current car. Some dealers are even reporting that consumers with credit scores as low as 400 are getting loans.

To get the latest auto loan rates, look at Bankrate's Interest Rate Roundup.

Ask the adviser

If you have a car question, e-mail it to us at Driving for Dollars. Read more Driving for Dollars columns and Bankrate auto stories.

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