What Credit Scores Do Car Dealerships Use?

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When shopping for a car, many people are concerned about credit and how it will impact their car buying experience – especially if they know their credit is damaged or has a limited history.

Many don’t realize that there are actually many different credit scores that lenders can access for different purposes. These different scoring models are weighted differently and, although many include the same factors, they can yield drastically different results.

If you’re in the market for purchasing a vehicle or know you’re going to be looking for a bad credit car loan, you may want to know what credit scores car dealerships use.

The answer depends on the dealership, as each dealership chooses which credit score they would like to access when evaluating buyers’ loan requests.

Generic Credit Scoring Models Commonly Used By Auto Lenders

Generally, most dealers will use what is known as the FICO score range, which consists of scores from 300-850. An individual’s FICO score is widely-used by lenders and creditors to review credit activity and determine what type of risk an applicant poses to them.

The primary factors that are used in the generic FICO model are:

  • Payment History
  • Total Debt
  • Length of Credit History

Auto Industry Credit Scores

An auto industry credit score, FICO Auto Score, AutoEnhanced, or AutoScore, is a credit scoring model built specifically for the car financing industry. Different from more commonly known generic credit scores such as FICO and VantageScore, this score increases accuracy in assessing risk when it comes to car financing decisions.

These scores analyze and emphasize various factors that would be more valuable for an auto lender in determining the risk of a potential loan.

With an auto industry credit score, lenders are able to determine which individuals are likely to be trustworthy with payments and which ones may be at risk for defaulting on their loan. It provides lenders with a more accurate assessment of risk than general consumer scores can provide.

FICO Auto Score

As mentioned, one of the common auto industry scores used by lenders is the FICO Auto Score. Unlike the standard FICO Score, which uses information from all your credit accounts, the FICO Auto Score considers only information in your credit report that affects your ability to make car payments.

There are many FICO score versions and even variations of specific industry scores, such as auto. Consumers can see some of these scores if purchased through FICO.

What Makes Auto Credit Scores Different?

Credit scores used by car dealerships often consider many of the same things as the generic scoring models, but put increased emphasis on factors that are relevant to financing a vehicle.

Auto credit scores look for things like:

  • Bankruptcy (active, recent, or early signs)
  • Previous auto loan payment history
  • Repossessions
  • Collections from car loans

In addition to these auto-specific factors being emphasized, typical credit factors are of course also considered, such as:

  • Credit history
  • Payment history
  • Open credit accounts
  • Credit mix