How Long Does a Car Refinance Take?

It can take from two hours to two weeks to complete an auto refinance. Here’s what you need to know about the process.
Written by Bonnie Stinson
Reviewed by Carrie Adkins
It can take up to two weeks to complete a refinance—or as little as two hours. It all depends on how prepared you are and how quickly the lender can process your application. 
Technically, you can refinance at any time, although experts recommend waiting at least three months after securing your loan to apply for refinancing. 
On top of that, it’s more advantageous to do it when you think you can secure a better interest rate. For example, if your credit score has improved or your financial situation has changed since you first applied for the loan, you might be able to secure better loan terms.
Below, we’ll cover what you need to know about auto refinancing. Remember, shopping around is the best way to find the lowest rates. Plus,
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Here’s what you should know about the length of the auto refinance process.

How long does a car refinance take?

It depends, although the average range is between two hours and two weeks. Some lenders are really quick and can process an application within a day. Other lenders take more time to conduct a thorough assessment. 
The amount of time depends on the lender, the time of year, and how prepared you are with the required documentation.
MORE: How to refinance a car

How to apply for car refinancing

Many banks have an online application form for auto loan refinancing. In some cases, you will need to call or visit the branch in person to complete the process. Contact your institution to find out the best way to apply.
You will need to prepare the required documents before you can apply online. This means digital versions of your vehicle’s title, your financial statements, and more. 
Here are some of the documents you will need to apply for refinancing:
  • Identity documents (driver’s license)
  • Proof of ownership (registration or title if it’s required in your state)
  • Proof of income (bank statements and tax returns)
  • Loan documents, if applicable 
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How to make refinancing go faster

By being organized, you can help the process go much more smoothly!
Start by gathering the necessary documentation ahead of time. Most lending institutions will want to see proof of income, credit history, employment, and other personal information. You will also need to provide vehicular information
Digitize these documents when possible and submit them securely. Otherwise, keep them neatly organized in a folder.
It’s important to point out that processing times vary depending on the financial institution. Quick approval may mean higher fees, while slower approval could result in better interest rates.
Processing time does not correlate with the quality of the agreement!
If getting your application processed quickly is your top criterion, try checking with your current banking institution to see if they offer refinancing options. Current customers should experience faster processing times since their information is already on file. 
Key Takeaway Have all your personal and financial documents ready to go when you fill out your auto loan refinance application.
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When to refinance a car loan

Most experts say that drivers should wait between 60 and 90 days after taking out the original
car loan
before applying to refinance. First-time borrowers should wait at least a year to apply for refinancing. 
This allows you to build a strong history of making regular payments and could help unlock better rates.
Even if you’re eager to refinance, there are some situations where applying for refinancing is not likely to result in the best outcome for you.
Don’t refinance if:
  • You have less than two years left on your auto loan. Borrowers tend to pay off the most interest at the beginning of a loan term. As a result, you have less potential to save if you refinance too late in your contract.
  • You drive an older vehicle or one with high mileage. Some lenders have requirements about age or odometer, and you’re unlikely to see much change in your interest rates in this situation.
  • Your credit situation has worsened. You’re unlikely to qualify for a lower rate if your credit score has dipped or you’re behind on your payments. However, if you are having trouble making the monthly payment, then you might need to apply for a refinance anyway. While this will lower the amount of your monthly payment, it could raise the overall cost of your loan.
Be careful not to get upside down on your car loan by owing more than the vehicle is actually worth.

Benefits to refinancing

While there are pros and cons to auto loan refinancing, there really are a ton of great benefits, no matter where you live or what type of car you drive. You could enjoy:

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