20/4/10 rule Explained: Best Approach for Buying New Cars

20/4/10 rule car | 20/4/10 car rule | 20/4/10 rule

A car is a significant financial commitment. This vehicle will be with you for a very long time and will travel a tremendous amount of distance with you, with the average lifespan of a car now being eight years.

In light of this, it’s wise to keep in mind the 20/4/10 rule as a general guideline to assist you in making sensible choices when purchasing a vehicle for yourself. Simple is the premise:

Always pay a down payment of at least 20% of the car’s value, limit the term of the loan to 4 years, and spend no more than 10% of your gross monthly income on car expenses.

20/4/10 rule

what is the 20/4/10 rule for a car | what is the 20/4/10 rule

According to this rule, you can buy a car if you can satisfy the following three criteria:

  • When buying the car, you can pay a down payment of 20% or more.
  • You can obtain a car loan with a term of no more than four years.
  • Not just your car loan, but all of your transportation expenses, can be kept to less than 10% of your monthly income.

Detailed Analysis of the 20/4/10 Car Buying Rule

A 20% deposit payment

You accomplish two things by putting down 20% of the value of the vehicle. First off, by making a larger down payment, you are actually increasing the amount you must borrow. This lowers the amount of interest you must pay on your loan and frees up more of your budget for savings and investments.

Second, if you can make a sizable down payment, you have a much better chance of getting financing in the first place.

four-year loan term

You can avoid becoming overly dependent on a car by keeping the term of your loan reasonably brief. It follows that you won’t lose money if you decide to exchange it or sell it before it experiences significant issues.

Additionally, if you take out a smaller loan, you will be less likely to run into the issue of your car’s value declining below the loan’s value.

10% of total expenses go towards car expenses

For good reason, the total cost of your vehicle (including loan payments, gas, insurance, and road tax) should not exceed 10% of your gross income. If you consistently spend more than that, it’s very likely that you won’t have enough money left over at the end of the month to put money aside for savings.

You are effectively living paycheque to paycheque if you don’t accumulate a sizable emergency fund or pension pot. You become extremely vulnerable as a result to unforeseen changes in your financial situation. Additionally, the money you spend on the car won’t be “returned” because all cars lose value as they age.

HOW THE 20/4/10 RULE WORKS | how should you apply the 20/4/10 rule of thumb 

Once you understand the procedure, applying this rule in practise doesn’t take much thought.

You must first be aware of the cost to purchase a vehicle. This enables you to determine the cost of a 20% down payment. The amount you would need to borrow can then be calculated, and an estimated interest rate can be obtained. Utilize this data to calculate the monthly loan payment, interest included.

Then, determine what percentage of your monthly income would be required to cover all vehicle-related expenses. This is more difficult because it takes into account expenses like insurance, fuel, maintenance, and more.

To estimate some of these costs, use a total cost of ownership calculator. Depreciation costs are not required, but you must include the loan payment for the vehicle.

Lastly, divide the vehicle’s total cost by your monthly income. The 20/4/10 rule is silent on whether this should be your gross income or your net income (after taxes and deductions) (before taxes and deductions). Use your best judgement or the approach that best serves your needs.

The 20/4/10 Rule’s benefits

Using the 20/4/10 rule when purchasing a car has numerous advantages both for the duration of the purchase and for ongoing car maintenance. The following are some benefits of applying this rule:

  • helps you buy a car within your budget.
  • Ensures that you have the financial means to purchase the car you want.
  • By keeping transportation costs below a budgeted percentage of annual income, it helps to reduce the interest paid on monthly instalments and unforeseen fuel costs.
  • To help you get the most for your money, it promotes responsible spending without being overly restrictive or limiting your options when purchasing a vehicle.
  • The bank will only lend you money if you put down 20% of the loan amount, especially if they are aware of the amount of equity you have already built in your car.
  • The loan’s 4-year term results in fewer total repayments.

Drawbacks of the 20/4/10 Rule

  • Even with a 20% down payment, getting a loan approved can be challenging if you have bad credit or no down payment.
  • The rule may end up costing more in the long run than what the buyer needs or wants because it does not take interest rates or other financing options into account.
  • Due to the fact that this rule encourages people to buy only what they can afford, you might not be able to purchase the car of your dreams if it does not suit your financial situation.


This guideline can generally help you avoid going overboard when buying a car. Before purchasing a car, it might make sense for financially secure people to use this rule as a reasonability check. In the meantime, those just entering adulthood or those with limited resources might find this rule to be unreasonable. To find a car that suits their requirements and price range, they might need to make adjustments—either up or down.


Here are some suggestions to consider if you want to follow this guideline:

  • Increase your down payment.
  • Purchase a base model instead of an upgraded model.
  • Think about the unsold new car stock from the previous year.
  • Buy a used car rather than a new car.
  • Keep your current vehicle longer and save the equivalent of your monthly payment until you have more money saved up for a better vehicle.

This rule might apply to you or it might be an out-of-date rule that doesn’t reflect the way things are now. Before making a purchase, giving the rule some thought can help you quickly assess your situation. 

20/4/10 rule calculator | 20/4/10 calculator

Follow these steps to determine your car budget using the 20/4/10 rule:

  • Find out your gross income, which is the amount you earn before any deductions for taxes and other expenses.
  • To determine the maximum annual amount, you should spend on your car, multiply your gross income by 10%.
  • To determine your monthly car budget, divide the annual sum by 12.
  • Choose the duration of your auto loan, but make sure it is no longer than four years.
  • By dividing the monthly budget by the total number of loan payments, you can determine the maximum loan amount.
  • The minimum down payment is then determined by multiplying the total cost of the car by 20%.

Why a Budget Is Necessary Before Buying a New Car

Finding a new vehicle can be a difficult process. Setting up a budget is the first thing you should do before beginning the car purchase because cars are very expensive. Before purchasing your next vehicle, consider doing that for a number of reasons, including:

  1. You won’t overextend your finances and end up in debt because you’ll know how much money you have available for this purchase.
  2. It will make it easier for you to remain focused and avoid getting side tracked by the next flashy car you see. This indicates that your choice will take into account both your financial situation and the excitement of getting a car.
  3. By making the most of your money, you can save more for a down payment and improve your ability to pay back loans.
  4. You’ll be able to select a car that suits your needs while remaining within your means. Everything will fit perfectly within your financial means and you won’t have to put additional financial obligations under strain.
  5. It will help you determine what you can and cannot afford right now by giving you a clearer picture of all the costs associated with owning a car, including the maintenance costs.

Vehicle Expenses You Should Budget for Each Month

You can see how much of your monthly income is spent on your car by looking at the total cost of ownership. It’s best to allocate 15% to 20% or less of your gross income towards car expenses.

A different way to approach your budget is to calculate how much you spent on upkeep and repairs the previous year and save that much.

There are several ways, including:

  1. Repayment of a loan
  2. Gas
  3. Vehicle Coverage
  4. Parking Charges
  5. Upkeep Charges
  6. Tolls

How To Save Money When Buying a New Car

When purchasing a new car, there are several ways to reduce costs. Take into account your options for getting a good deal and saving money before deciding how to go about making your purchase. There are several ways to cut costs, including:

  1. Purchase from an individual rather than a dealer.
  2. Enter Good Deals Through Negotiation
  3. opt For A Car Based On Features
  4. Purchase used items rather than new ones
  5. Examine Standard Maintenance Costs

Should You Save Up and Purchase a Car with Cash?

Choosing whether to use financing or save up and pay cash for your next vehicle purchase can be difficult. Before making this choice, weigh all the available information. In the current economic climate, buying a car with cash can be challenging, but if you have the skills to pull it off, it’s not a bad idea.

On the one hand, purchasing your new car outright may result in financial savings. However, it might also be more practical once you’re ready to make your purchase. There are a number of reasons, though, why you shouldn’t pay in full up front for your car:

You need something dependable and secure for work or school first. Waiting until you have enough savings could result in you buying an older model without all the most recent safety features. In the event that someone is hurt while riding in your car as a result of faulty equipment, this could result in increased insurance costs or even future legal issues.

You’ll probably get more car for your money, which is another benefit of financing a car purchase. Most dealerships will provide some kind of warranty on new vehicles if there are any issues, whether they are mechanical or cosmetic.

Last but not least, financing a car allows you to spread out the cost over a long period of time, making it more affordable for you than if you had to save up over a long period of time to pay it all at once.

How To Get Pre-approved For Financing

When purchasing a car online, getting pre-approved for financing is a great first step. To get pre-approved for financing, follow these steps:

  • If you want to know if you have a chance of getting a loan, check your credit score.
  • Compare Lenders and Prices
  • Request Pre-approval.

Read More: –“No Money Down Car Loans for Bad Credit”


This is just a general guideline, so obviously it won’t always work for everyone in every circumstance. You will be able to distinguish between wise and foolish financial decisions more easily if you use it as a guide.

Focus on purchasing a dependable vehicle that perfectly suits your needs, whether you require a short-distance commuter or a long-distance hauler; a vehicle with a large trunk or one that can fit in even the smallest of spaces. Pay attention to your needs; it’s your car.

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