time icon 6 min read update icon Sept. 20, 2019
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CarsDirect is the ideal online platform for matching applicants with trusted dealerships, so as to avoid the stress and fear of getting ripped off.

Are you looking for a judgment-free zone in which to begin your search for an auto loan, but are putoff by the possibility of a private sale? Then look no further than CarsDirect, which only matches loan requests with franchised and independent dealerships. Those who apply can shop their offers around knowing that they have the upper hand in any and all follow-on negotiations with the finance and insurance departments. 

Grandfolk Scoring
Cost 10/10
Ease 10/10
Cancellation 8/10
Customer support 10/10
Loan amounts 7/10
Funding time 9/10
Credit score 5/10
Penalties 8/10
Payment options 3/10
Limits to coverage 4/10
Restrictions 5/10
Loan origination fee 4/10
What is the monthly fee?
This depends on your loan amount
Are loans easy to obtain?
Yes, CarsDirect connects you to multiple loan options
What if I’m not satisfied?
Loans must be paid back in full
Customer support
How do I reach out to the company?
You can reach customer support 24/7 by phone, email or live chat
Loan amounts
What are the maximum and minimum loans offered?
This depends on the loans you are matched with
Funding time
How long will it take to get the loan?
Offers are made within seconds; you can buy your car in less than 48 hours
Credit score
Will the approval process ruin my credit?
No, but applicants should only finalize loans with trusted lenders
Are there fees for early payoffs?
Depends on the specific terms and conditions from the dealership
Payment options
How can I pay back my loan and interest?
Depends on the dealership and its finance and insurance departments
Limits to coverage
What services are excluded?
CarsDirect does not offer loans, only matching
Cost or difficulty to upgrade?
Upgrades and refinancing are unique to the financier in question
Loan origination fee
Is there a financing fee?
Each finance and insurance department is unique in the fees it charges
Age Score:
50-64 Years
65-74 Years
75-84 Years

As far as online auto loan brokers go, CarsDirect may be one of the most, well, direct marketplaces in which to request vehicle financing. For those making their first foray into such lending options, CarsDirect is one of the least intimidating places to start, and this goes double for those of us who may not feel entirely tech savvy. The primary reason for all of these assurances is that CarsDirect began as an auto loan marketplace for online shoppers, and interfaces exclusively with reputable franchised and independent dealerships. 

What does that mean? There is no way you will end up at a sleazy or fly-by-night car lot. The company has been around for almost twenty years, and is committed to putting you in front of dealers that specialize in new car loans, used car loans, refinancing and trade-ins. The biggest downfall? CarsDirect is a broker, and therefore does not offer loans or repayment options itself. All things considered, CarsDirect essentially ensures you are financed through an accredited finance and insurance department through its trusted network of sellers.

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Like other online loan request websites and brokers, CarsDirect does not focus on any singular segment outright, but does encourage all credit-challenged persons to apply. This can certainly include retirees and seniors who may find financing a new or used car difficult, since they no longer have a steady payment history to point toward when in front of a financier. That said, CarsDirect works exclusively with trusted dealerships that have more to lose when economic tides shift, which has been the case for nearly ten years. 

To wit, seniors and retirees would be well-advised to consider the timing of a purchase around year-end deals, which take place at most certified dealerships, as well as around interest rate increases and decreases.


  • Customers get instant notifications on auto loan offers for new, used and refinanced requests.
  • Loan requests only take 60 seconds to complete, and applicants can get behind the wheel of a new car in less than 48 hours.
  • Loan offers and requests only go through dealerships, and not private sellers.
  • CarsDirect has been around since 1998, and was built explicitly to finance auto loans.
  • The website offers not only calculators and informational packets, but an entire curated collection of articles and blog posts to further educate applicants.


  • The company is a simple marketplace and therefore does not offer loans outright.
  • Given that CarsDirect does not finance a purchase, applicants are strongly encouraged to have at least a 10% down payment.
  • Dealership finance and insurance departments historically have higher interest rates and longer payback periods.
  • All of the research and additional legwork after the loan offer is left to the applicant to pursue.

Bottom Line:

For those not willing to cast a wide net, and those who want to go with trusted vendors, CarsDirect is the online marketplace to use to source an auto loan request. As a broker, the company does not offer financing or repayment, which means that applicants have to perform their own follow-on research and due diligence when shopping around at the suggested car dealerships in their area. Dealers have a stronger reputation than private sellers, though, and frequently run fantastic year-end events to clear their lots of older models. 

CarsDirect makes no guarantees that a loan request will yield a loan offer, but still strongly encourages even the credit-challenged to apply with the understanding that their rates may be higher than most. CarsDirect is best for the senior or retiree that needs a reliable car from a reputable dealer without the intimidation of a full-blown online marketplace.

Frequently Asked Questions:

What is required to obtain a loan request? 

Similar to other online auto loan brokers, CarsDirect is very clear in advising applicants to only supply their critical personal information to trusted online lenders backed by the likes of Wells Fargo or similar financial institutions. That said, each loan request will depend on the dealership, but will more than likely include the request for the applicant’s social security number, housing status and job status, so as to better assess payback capabilities and timelines.

How long until I know whether I am eligible for a loan?  

CarsDirect alerts the applicant immediately and touts a turnaround time of 24 to 48 hours from application submission to sitting behind the wheel of a new car.  

How do I make payments?  

Those who go on to accept loan offers must set up payments based on the terms and conditions of the dealership where they purchased their vehicle. 

More Information:

Product Details

Overview: CarsDirect has helped over five million customers since 1998 find the right dealership, based on their past payment history and current credit situation. The site boasts having processed over 800 loans in a single day, and to all credit types. CarsDirect does not administer or offer loans, but acts as a broker getting the car-seeking customer in front of the right dealership for their needs based on their preferred payback schedule. Of note, and unlike other brokerage sites, CarsDirect only interfaces with dealerships and does not link applicants with private sellers.

Package Details: CarsDirect is a broker with a three-step, no-hassle process, which is simple and easy to follow. First, customers are encouraged to shop for the right car using easy-to-understand content and buying guides provided by industry experts. Next, applicants build their car online and watch in real-time as the CarsDirect quote fluctuates around different options and configurations. Finally, the soon-to-be car owner purchases the vehicle from a trusted dealership and sets up follow-on payments via the finance and insurance (F&I) department.

Add-on Services:  CarsDirect offers the standard loan and interest rate calculators found on most Internet auto loan sites, but goes the extra mile (no pun intended, of course) by offering a curated collection of articles, blogs and informational pieces on how to get the biggest bang for your buck.

Additional Company Details

Contract Details: CarsDirect is a brokerage site much like LendingTree, and therefore does not offer loans directly to applicants. The service provider does, however, put consumers’ loan requests through to dealership, and acts as a platform for prospective lessees as well as those looking to purchase a new or used car outright.

Warranty: CarsDirect does not offer any guarantee that an applicant will be matched with a suitable financial lender or dealership. It does, however, encourage applicants to request a loan, as the auto financing companies it uses do provide almost instant loan approval.This allows consumers to purchase a car within 24 to 48 hours from the completion of the loan application process.

Accreditations: CarsDirect is not rated by the Better Business Bureau, and is not accredited by the organization.

Company Details: Unlike other online auto loan services, CarsDirect was not the byproduct or spinoff of a more seasoned entity, but rather the predecessor to Internet Brands, Inc., which is now home to such online media and client service giants as WebMD and Fodor’s Travel. The company was formed in 1998, and continues to offer automotive loans and financing options through dealerships from its base in El Segundo, California.


909 N Sepulveda Blvd, Fl 11
El Segundo, CA 90245-2727
Tel: 800-692-2200

Kate Papenberg - Senior Advisor

Kate is senior researcher with Grandfolk® providing in-depth product and service reviews to empower senior buying decisions.