Westlake Financial Auto Loan Review

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Westlake Financial Auto Loan Review
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If you are shopping for a new or used car, you may come across Westlake Financial when you discuss your financing options at the dealership. Westlake Financial is what’s known as an indirect lender: It offers auto loans through car dealers instead of directly to consumers. Even though you can’t complete a Westlake application on your own, it’s still a good idea to do your research on the company and what it offers. With more than 30,000 dealers in Westlake’s network, chances are good you may be presented with one of its loans.

Here, we’ll explain how getting an auto loan with Westlake Financial works and what you can expect as you go through the approval process.

About Westlake Financial

Started in 1978 as a “buy here pay here” car dealer in Los Angeles, Westlake Financial has grown to offer car and motorcycle loans in all 50 states. Though it’s known as a company specializing in loans for those with “subprime” or low credit, the company has expanded into loans for those with higher FICO scores, even ones above 750. Westlake also offers car and motorcycle title loans and title loan refinancing, though we won’t be focusing on those in this review.

Even though you’ll need to complete your application at the dealer, you can fill out a form on Westlake Financial’s website to get prequalified. You will be connected with one of Westlake’s dealership partners in your geographical area. You may choose a car from its inventory before stepping foot on the lot. If you end up getting your auto loan financed with Westlake, you may be rewarded with a $300 incentive for starting the loan process online.

Westlake Financial: At a glance

  • Interest rates as low as 2.99%.
  • Terms up to 72 months.
  • Loan amounts up to $50,000, but may be lower in some circumstances.

Westlake Financial offers auto and motorcycle loans for all credit situations, but it does not refinance existing vehicle loans. You may qualify with no credit history or if you have a bankruptcy or repossession on your credit history. The average weighted FICO score of approved Westlake Financial auto loans is 602, according to S&P Global Ratings.

There are no limits on vehicle age or mileage — Westlake may even finance cars that other lenders wouldn’t, including salvage vehicles. In general, the most it will lend is $50,000, which may limit your vehicle choices if you’re considering certain luxury cars; however, there are situations where the maximum amount could be much lower, as low as $25,000.

Down payment requirements and interest rates may also be determined by your credit score. Though Westlake rates start at 2.99%, the rate you may receive could be much higher with an average weighted APR of 19%, according to S&P. Those with the best credit scores aren’t required to put money down, while others will be required to put down between 5% to 10%, according to DealerCenter, which provides software to auto dealers. If you’re thinking of getting a loan with Westlake Financial, make sure you communicate with a representative to find out if there may be any fees charged for your application, and if so, how much they cost.

Shop around. No matter your credit situation, comparing multiple offers from auto loan companies ensures that you get the best possible deal on financing. Dealerships have a vested interest in connecting buyers to their finance partners — they may get kickbacks from the company, or add percentage points to the interest rate to help them make extra money on the deal. The best way to make sure you’re getting the best rate is possible is to apply to more than one lender — it will not hurt your credit to fill out multiple applications any more than it does to fill out one, as long as you do so within a 14-day window.

How to apply for financing

If you want to be proactive about working with Westlake Financial to get a car loan, you can fill out the form on its website to get in touch with one of its partner dealers. You can then choose from the cars for sale on the dealer’s lot. You may also get connected to Westlake Financial through a car dealership’s finance and insurance (F&I) office if this is one of the finance companies they work with. Westlake Financial works with both franchise dealers and independent dealers.

After choosing a vehicle, you’ll fill out the formal application for financing with the help of the F&I department employees at the dealership. Prequalifying for financing on Westlake’s website before you visit a dealership requires only a soft pull of credit information; however, this full application triggers a hard pull. It may require the following information:

  • Full legal name
  • Date of birth
  • Social Security number or Tax ID
  • Address
  • Length of time at residence
  • Home phone
  • Cell phone
  • Rent or mortgage payment amount
  • Landlord contact information
  • Previous address
  • Current, previous, and secondary employment information
  • Gross monthly salary
  • Occupation or job title
  • Sources and amounts of other income
  • Signature granting permission to use the information in the application to evaluate eligibility for credit and to verify spouse’s information.

Westlake Financial may count many types of income for purposes of qualifying an applicant including income from Uber or Lyft, student grant money, short-term disability payments, state or government assistance for dependents of the applicant, Social Security payments and self-employment income.

The fine print

Westlake Finance offers auto loans for all types of credit, but it’s notable in that it offers loans for those searching for bad credit auto loans. Even so, there are some rules that will eliminate certain applicants from getting their car loan with this company.

  • Financing is not available for buyers with a revoked or suspended driver’s license.
  • Employees of repossession companies or auto finance collectors are not eligible for financing with Westlake.
  • Borrowers with delinquent mortgage payments of less than 60 days must prove their loan payments are up to date before applying for financing with Westlake.
  • Applicants must prove they have comprehensive and collision insurance coverage with a minimum term of six months and a $500 deductible before they can finalize the purchase of the car.
  • Previous bankruptcies are OK, provided the applicant meets all other requirements; open bankruptcies require additional documentation.
  • Applicants are restricted to a total of two open auto loans, including the pending Westlake loan.

It may be possible to borrow more than the car is worth — Westlake Financial finances up to 150% of the car’s loan-to-value, depending on the borrower’s credit score. So, if a car’s value is $10,000, Westlake Financial may lend $14,000 to $15,000.

You might be considering this if you’re “rolling over” negative equity from a previous auto loan, but owing more money on a car than it’s worth (or being “upside down”) on your car loan has some serious downsides. For example, if you had to sell the car quickly or it was wrecked or stolen, you may have to come up with the extra cash.

Pros and cons of financing through Westlake Financial

Westlake Financial has some of the least-restrictive requirements to get a loan, but it may not be your only choice even if your credit is poor. Those with good or better credit may receive better terms elsewhere — you may even qualify for 0% financing or other incentives from the manufacturer.

Highlights of Westlake Financial auto loans

  • No minimum credit score required for loan approval
  • No restrictions on the vehicle mileage or age
  • Approval available for discharged and open bankruptcies
  • No rules about time at residence or job
  • No minimum income requirements
  • Can get preapproved with only a soft pull of credit information

Lowlights of Westlake Financial auto loan

  • Low loan amounts: Depending on the dealership and your unique circumstances, the maximum amount Westlake will finance is $50,000.
  • Bad reviews: It’s worth noting that despite a solid rating, Westlake Financial is not accredited by the Better Business Bureau where the company has received 1 out of 5 stars based on 56 customer reviews.
  • Government action: Westlake Financial Services agreed to settle two separate complaints, one as a result of violating the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act and another brought by the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs, both occurring in 2017.
  • Website isn’t informative: It’s hard to find specific information about interest rates and terms. However, you may get a same-day quote by filling out Westlake’s online form.

The bottom line: Who is Westlake Financial Auto Loan best for?

For those with bad credit who need auto financing but are currently going through bankruptcy, have non-traditional or hard-to-prove income, or have recently changed jobs, Westlake Financial may be one of your few options.

Westlake Financial may also be a good option for those with solid credit. With rates starting as low as 2.99%, Westlake is on par with other lender offers we’ve seen — but that doesn’t mean it’s your only option. With Westlake, you will be directed to its network of dealers. By getting your own preapproved loan from your bank, credit union or online lender, you could take that loan to any dealer. It’s crucial to shop around for the best possible rates and terms, no matter your credit situation.

The rates and fees mentioned in this article are accurate as of the date of publishing.

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