You've just seen the car of your dreams, but you're not sure if the price is right. In a few steps, you can calculate your potential car payments and decide if you'll be able to afford a new ride.

### You will need

- Scientific calculator
- Pen and paper
- Online payment calculator (optional)

Step 1 Convert the interest rate percentage to a decimal Convert your loan’s interest rate to a decimal number by dropping the percent sign and dividing the number by 100.

Step 2 Divide decimal number by 12 Divide the interest rate on your car loan by 12. Write this number on a piece of paper.

Step 3 Multiply by your car loan principal Multiply the number by the loan’s principal amount — the total amount of your car loan. Write this number down, as it will be used in your final calculation.

**Quick Tip:**

Remember to subtract any down payment you might make from the new car’s purchase price when figuring out the principal amount.

Step 4 Add 1 plus the interest divided by 12 Recall the number you got from dividing the interest rate by 12 in step 2. Add 1 to this number.

Step 5 Multiply sum by itself, using number of payments as exponent Take the sum from step 4 raised to the power of the number of months included in the term of your loan. For example, if you will make 36 monthly payments, multiply the sum from step 4 by itself 36 times.

Step 6 Calculate 1 divided by this sum Calculate 1 divided by the result from step of your multiplication.

**Quick Tip:**

Round this number to the nearest hundredths place to make it easier to work with.

Step 7 Subtract sum from 1 Subtract this number from 1. Jot this number down for use in your final calculation.

**Quick Tip:**

Avoid the math by using car payment calculators found on many auto dealer and bank websites.

Step 8 Divide the first number by the second Divide the number from step 3 by the number from step 7 for your final monthly car payment. Think about whether this will fit into your monthly budget. If so, you might want to ride off in that dream car.

** Did You Know:**

The Smithsonian Institute has been collecting cars since 1899, and has more than 60 cars in its collection, including a 1913 Model T Ford and a 1903 Cadillac.