The most often used credit scoring systems allow people to shop for the best loan for their vehicle purchase without lowering their credit score. This is done by considering all inquiries for a car loan done within a certain time frame as one inquiry,
Be aware that the time frames may be different. To be safe, you should keep your inquires within a 14 day period. Within this time frame, your inquires should be counted as one or perhaps excluded completely by some scoring systems.
When a dealership sends your application to several lenders, those banks will check your credit score and compete for your business. Every lender that checks your credit will appear as a separate inquiry, but because these will happen in such a short amount of time, it should only count as one. So, you shouldn’t need to worry about dealerships sending your application to many lenders. These inquiries should not hurt your credit score, unless you shop outside of a short time frame.
Before you Shop for a Car
When you think you may be ready for a new car, you need to get a copy of your credit report and make sure there are no errors on it that may prevent you from getting a good deal on a car loan.
Besides checking it for errors, your report will also explain what is in your report that is affecting your score. If you have poor credit, this information will help you improve your score before you try to get a loan and will increase your chances for approval and a better interest rate on your loan.
You may also want to consider getting pre-approved before shopping for a vehicle. This will give you a rough estimate on how much you can spend on a vehicle before you get your heart set on one.