Loan-To-Value Ratios Explained


If you’ve ever applied for a car loan, you’ve probably heard the term Loan-To-Value (LTV) Ratio before. The question is… Did you understand what it meant? If not, that’s OK… You’re not alone.

Canadians often report being confused by terms used by financial lenders. After all, when you apply for a car loan, there’s a lot of puzzle pieces involved, each with their own set of tricky vernacular.

Today, we’ll clear up any confusion you might have about LTV ratios. We’ll also answer the following questions:

  • Why Do Lenders Calculate LTV Ratios?
  • How Does a Down Payment Affect an LTV Ratio?
  • What’s the Difference between a Good and Bad LTV Ratio?

First, though, let’s explain what an LTV Ratio is.

Loan-To-Value Ratios

ga_blog_ltvexplained_nov163A loan to value (LTV) ratio is a measure of risk. It helps a lender determine how “risky” it is to lend to you and whether or not they should assume that risk. Simply put, it lets lenders know how much of a loan is backed up by tangible, real world value.

Here’s How it Works

An LTV ratio is expressed as a percentage, which is calculated by the amount of the loan you’re asking for, divided by the value of your car. So if you’re looking to buy a $30,000 vehicle and you apply for a loan of $30,000, your LTV is 100%. If you want to buy that same car, but instead ask for a loan of $35,000, your LTV is 125%.

Now the question is….

Why Do Lenders Calculate LTV Ratios?

With most loans, lenders usually ask for some type of collateral before they approve someone, just in case the borrower can no longer pay the loan back. That way, the lenders aren’t out any money.

With auto loans, the car is the collateral. So if a borrower can’t pay their loan back, the lender will repossess the vehicle in order to recover their money. In some situations, though, it isn’t always that straightforward.

Sometimes people ask for a loan that is for more than the value of the car they plan on buying. There are a bunch of difference reasons for doing this.

  • You can use the extra money to pay off other loans with higher interest rates
  • You can use it as an opportunity to consolidate other debts into one loan.
  • You can use the extra money to make modifications to the new vehicle i.e. remote starter

This means that lenders oftentimes lend out more money than they have collateral for. Now, more often than not, lenders are willing to extend loans like this. However, once an LTV ratio gets too high i.e. the loan far exceeds the value of the car, lenders become less likely to approve you for a loan.

Lenders calculate LTV ratios so they can make sure the gap between the car’s value and the loan is never too big.

How Does a Down Payment Affect an LTV Ratio?

ga_blog_ltvexplained_nov162Obviously, the more money you put towards a vehicle, the better. It translates into a smaller loan, usually over a shorter period of time and will eventually cost you less in interest. But there’s another great reason to make a down payment and that is that it lowers your LTV ratio.

Here’s an example: Sam and Mary want to buy a $20,000 car. They’ve decided to have a remote starter installed, too.  On top of that, they also want to finance an additional $3,000 from a previous loan into the total purchase. When everything is added up, Sam and Mary are asking for a $24,500 loan.

That means their LTV is 122.5%, so the lender would be assuming a 22.5% financial risk. Now, some lenders would have no problem with an LTV this high. Others, however, might. It depends on the lender. But if the LTV ratio you’re asking for is too high, you can either ask for less money or make a down payment.

Did you find this post informative? Have another topic you’d like us to cover? Let us know in the comments section below!