Dear Driving for Dollars,

Does applying for an auto loan affect your credit score?

— Kenneth

Dear Kenneth,

Applying for an auto loan counts as an “inquiry” on your credit report. While the number of inquiries is a factor in your credit score, it generally has a relatively small impact, with elements such as past payment history and use of credit receiving much more weight in the score. If you make multiple applications for a car loan within a 45-day window, it lessens the impact because most of the credit bureaus realize you’re shopping for a car loan.

Tara Baukus Mello is a freelance writer who has written about automotive topics of interest to consumers since 1995. 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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