If you’re facing an unexpected financial hurdle and need funds quickly, your car may come to your rescue.

In the financial world, “collateral” refers to an asset you offer a lender to secure a loan. If you fail to repay the loan, your lender can take the collateral as compensation. In this context, your car can serve as collateral for a loan, providing you with the necessary funds while you retain the use of your vehicle.

Can I Use My Car as Collateral for a Loan?

Yes, you can use your car as collateral for a loan — specifically, an auto equity loan. This type of secured personal loan allows you to borrow money against the value of your car.

In an auto equity loan, the lender assesses the value of your car based on factors like its make, model, mileage and condition, as well as any existing loans on the vehicle. The lender will then determine the amount of equity you have in the car.

Note that the amount you can borrow depends on the equity in your car. Typically, lenders will allow you to borrow a percentage of your car's equity, ranging from 25% to 50%. For example, if your vehicle is worth $10,000 and you still owe $4,000, your equity is $6,000. In this case, the lender might allow you to borrow $1,500 to $3,000.

You can continue using your car as you normally would during the loan period. If you fail to repay the loan or default on your payments, the lender has the right to repossess your car. They can then sell it to recover the loan amount.

Auto Equity Loans vs. Car Title Loans

While the terms "auto equity loans" and "car title loans" are often used interchangeably, they can differ. Understanding them can help you determine which option is right for you.

Auto equity loans are typically used by individuals with equity in their car, meaning the car is worth more than the remaining balance on their car loan. Borrowers can take out a loan against this equity, with the amount based on the value of the car.

Meanwhile, car title loans are often used by those who own their car outright without any outstanding loans or liens against it. The loan amount is based on a percentage of the car's value. Car title loans typically have higher interest rates and shorter repayment terms than auto equity loans.

Pros and Cons of Using Your Car as Loan Collateral

Using your car as collateral for a loan can be a double-edged sword, offering both benefits and drawbacks. While it can provide quick access to cash, especially for those with bad credit, it also carries risks, including high-interest rates and the potential loss of your vehicle if you can't repay the loan.


  • Potentially lower interest rates: Because your car secures the loan, there's less risk for the leader, which can result in lower interest rates.
  • Quick process: The process of qualifying for a loan may be faster if you use your car as collateral. This is because the approval is based on your car's value and ability to repay rather than on a lengthy credit check.
  • Keep using your car: Even though it serves as collateral, you can typically continue using your car as long as you keep up with your loan payments.


  • Risk of repossession: If you default, the lender can repossess your vehicle. Make sure you're capable of repaying the loan before putting your car at risk.
  • Risk of being upside down: Being "upside down" on your loan means you owe more on the loan than your car is worth. This occurs if your vehicle depreciates faster than you repay the loan or if the loan amount was higher than the car's value to begin with.
  • Loss of equity: When you use your car as collateral, you borrow against the equity you've built up in your vehicle. If you take out a loan, you essentially use that equity.

Factors To Consider Before Using Your Car as Loan Collateral

Before using your car as collateral for a loan, weighing several key factors, like your ability to repay the loan and insurance requirements, is crucial. This can help ensure you’re making a financially sound decision that aligns with your circumstances.

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    Ability to repay the loan

    If you are unable to repay the loan, you risk losing your car. Consider your income, expenses and other financial obligations. Make sure you have a clear plan for how to repay the loan before proceeding.

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    Insurance requirements

    Some lenders require you to have certain types of car insurance, such as collision and comprehensive coverage. If you don't already have this coverage, you'll need to add it, which could increase your costs.

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    Loan terms

    Make sure you fully understand the terms of the loan, including the interest rate, fees and repayment schedule. Be aware of any penalties for late or missed payments. If the terms are unclear or if there are terms you don't agree with, it might be best to look for other lending options.

Remember that using your car as collateral for a loan is a significant decision that can impact your financial health and daily life. Considering all these factors and exploring your options before proceeding is important.

Alternatives To Using Your Car as Loan Collateral

While using your car as collateral for a loan can be a viable option, it's not the only one. You can use several other assets as collateral to secure a loan, including your home and savings account.

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    If you own a home and have built up equity in it, you may be able to use that equity as collateral for a home equity loan or line of credit. However, just like with an auto equity loan, you risk losing your home if you fail to repay the loan.

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    Savings account

    Some banks and credit unions offer loans that your savings account secures. These loans typically have lower interest rates than unsecured loans. However, you won't be able to access the funds in your savings account until the loan is repaid.

Frequently Asked Questions

MoneyGeek answered some frequently asked questions about using your car as collateral for loans to provide clarity and guide you toward making an informed decision.

What happens if you can't repay the loan?
How long are the repayment terms for auto equity loans?
Can you get an auto equity loan if your car is not fully paid off?
Can you get an auto equity loan with bad credit?
Are there alternatives to using your car as collateral for a loan?

About Christopher Boston

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Christopher (Croix) Boston was the Head of Loans content at MoneyGeek, with over five years of experience researching higher education, mortgage and personal loans.

Boston has a bachelor's degree from the Seattle Pacific University. They pride themselves in using their skills and experience to create quality content that helps people save and spend efficiently.

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The content on this page is accurate as of the posting/last updated date; however, some of the rates mentioned may have changed. We recommend visiting the lender's website for the most up-to-date information available.

Editorial Disclosure: Opinions, reviews, analyses and recommendations are the author’s alone and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any bank, lender or other entity. Learn more about our editorial policies and expert editorial team.