Cosigner for Car Loans: The Key to Unlock Your Dream Car

someone signing on a paper showing a cosigner for car loans

Are Cosigners for Car loans really the key?

John is a proud resident of Fresno, CA with dreams of owning a used car from a local car dealership. He walks into the first used car dealer near him. John sits down and goes through the application process in order to apply for credit. 
He’s ready to take it out on a test drive only to have his dreams shut down. 
His fico score and financial history stand as an obstacle. He’s told by the sales rep, “You’re going to need a cosigner for car loans John. Come back when you find one. You can also try In House financing.”

John is devastated, but determined to make his dreams come true. He will buy this car even after being denied for the auto loan

He doesn’t understand what a cosigner is so he calls his best friend Sarah. Sarah is bright and knows a lot about finances. Lucky for John, she’s got a solid financial record and is well-versed in the subject.

“I got you, John,” she says. “We’ll get you approved today.”

Cosigner for Car Loans
– Table of Contents –

The World of Car Loans

a picture of the earth showing the world of a cosigner for car loans

Sarah and John meet up so she can help him understand everything.

“If you’re serious about learning how to buy a used car from a dealer, you’ll need to understand some of the basics.”

She explains that in car finance, car loans are crucial for anyone trying to get their own car. This includes both traditional and In House financing,

John does not have the full amount to purchase a used car. Because of this, he needs to turn to an auto lender who gives him money to be able to purchase it. In return, John would promise to pay back the loan over time, with a little extra.

Traditional Car Loans

Sarah can tell that John is confused. 

“Car loans are also known as auto loans. They’re a type of financial aid provided by lenders to people who need funds to purchase a vehicle,” she says. “The borrower is expected to repay the loan, along with interest, within a predetermined period.”

John seems to be getting it more but asks what In House financing is

In House Financing Car Loans

“Ah!” says Sarah. “In House financing is offered by local used car dealerships. You may have seen a few down the street here in Fresno, CA. They allow customers to secure auto loans directly from the dealership.”

“Why would they do that?” asks John.

“Well, this type of financing is especially beneficial for individuals with poor credit scores or no credit,” says Sarah. 

So, What is a Cosigner?

John is about to speak up when Sarah stops him.

“I know, you’ve never bought a car or even had a credit card,” she says. “And that is exactly why they’re telling you that you need a cosigner for car loans.”

“Your problem is that you need to build credit. See, the financial system uses credit scoring models to determine your credit score range. 

These models are made by one credit bureau or another. They assign a score to everyone that is based on past behavior. They use the scores to be able to quickly determine your future credit limit by looking at your past credit accounts. Does that make sense?”

“Kinda,” says John.

“Okay, so in this situation they don’t really know what to expect from you. They don’t see anything in your past so they can’t predict your future. This is risky. It would be even more risky if you had a bad credit score.”

She goes on to explain that a cosigner is an individual who signs a loan agreement alongside the primary borrower. They agree to repay the debt if the borrower defaults or fails to meet their financial obligations. 

“In essence,” she says, “a cosigner offers an added layer of security for the lender. They provide a safety net in case you don’t pay.”

The Importance of a Cosigner for Car Loans

a red pencil that has circled the words "very important" on a piece of paper depicting the importance of a cosigner for car loans

“Listen, John,” she says, “Cosigners can make or break your chances of getting a used car. They’re extremely important to secure a car loan for someone in your situation.”

Cosigning a Car Loan: An Overview

She explains that cosigning a car loan involves accepting the full responsibility of repaying the loan. In the event that the primary borrower cannot, the cosigner is on the hook.

It puts the lender at ease. They have someone who has proven to be financially responsible who is guaranteeing they will pay, no matter what. 

“As great as this can be, there is still risk involved,” she says. “This is a significant financial commitment and should not be entered into lightly.”

How a Cosigner Can Benefit You

“Before we get to that, let’s cover the ways that a cosigner in a car loan can benefit you.”

Boosting Credit Security

“When you apply for a car loan, the lender considers your credit score and income level. They use this to help determine how risky you are,” she says. “Having a cosigner can reduce your perceived risk and increase your chances of securing the loan. This is especially so with one that has a good credit history.”

Making the Car Loan Approval Easy

“Since the lender feels more at ease, the cosigner can make it easier to get approved for a car loan. This applies especially so if you’re dealing with bad credit or no credit.”

“Okay,” says John. “but how?”

“Think of it like this. Imagine you’re a lead singer preparing to perform on your first show. You know you can sing, but the audience is skeptical about your ability. In order to make sure you do well, you ask me to sing as your backup.

“I have tons of experience and the audience knows me well. As the backup singer, I provide you with support and assistance. I compliment your vocals, harmonize, and add to the performance. Essentially, I guarantee that you’re going to have a great show and the audience can feel great.

“A cosigner’s credit score and financial stability can supplement your own. This gives lenders more assurance, just as I would with the audience.”

Securing Better Interest Rates & Terms

She goes on to explain that a cosigner with a strong credit profile can help negotiate better terms.  

Lenders will be more strict with someone who poses a higher risk. Because of this, they typically increase the interest rates, down payment, or reduce the term. 

A cosigner can potentially save a significant amount of money over the life of the loan through reduced interest. They can also lower the down payment requirements and lengthen the term.

Saving Huge with a Cosigner for Car Loans

“Interest rates can be confusing for most,” says Sarah. “But they can’t be ignored. Interest is the charge that the lender asks of you for taking the risk they do.

“The lower your credit score, the higher the interest. This means that with every payment that you make, part of it goes toward the amount you borrowed and the rest toward that fee. By getting a cosigner, the lender can sometimes reduce the interest rate.”

“I don’t get it,” says John.

“Okay, let’s say you buy a car that’s $17,000. You get charged 25% interest on your car loan on your own. Over 5 years, you’re going to pay $500 per month. That’s a total of $30,000 when you’re done paying it off.”


“Yeah,” says Sarah. “Now, you get me on the same car loan and they agree to an interest rate of 10%. Your monthly payment is now only $360 and you only pay about $21,500 total.”

The Role of Cosigners in In-House Financing

a pen over paper that says "roles and responsibilities" of a cosigner for car loans

“But why would I go through that trouble when I can just go to an In House financing dealership near me?” asks John.

In-House Financing: A Quick Introduction

In-house financing is a popular option for people seeking to around us wanting to buy used cars  Fresno, CA. However, they tend to have higher interest. And, they may still require a cosigner under some circumstances.” 

Why a Cosigner is Crucial in In-House Financing

Assuring Loan Repayment

“Just as with traditional lenders, in-house financing dealerships appreciate the assurance that a cosigner provides,” she says. “They deal with much higher-risk auto loans. This means that they have a higher chance of losing money.

“In case the borrower fails to make timely payments, they can rest assured that they’re more covered. The cosigner is obligated to take on the repayment, ensuring the dealership doesn’t lose money.

Enhancing Trust

“A cosigner can increase trust between the dealership and the borrower. This can make a smoother transaction. 

“It provides peace of mind for everyone involved,” says Sarah. “See, John, these people don’t know you how I do. To them, they just see that you’ve never taken out a credit card, a car loan, or any other debt. They have no clue if you’re responsible.

“You’re what’s considered a first time car buyer. That can be a risk for both the auto lender and cosigner.”

The Potential Risks and Responsibilities for Cosigners

“Okay, I get it,” says John. “But you mentioned it was a huge financial commitment. What did you mean by that?”

Understanding the Risks Involved in Cosigning

“Yeah,” says Sarah, “a cosigner in a car loan can add huge benefits. No doubt. But there are definite risks involved.

“The cosigner is equally responsible for the loan repayment. Like with the singers, if you butcher the performance I have to step up and try to save it.”

The Responsibilities of a Cosigner

“A cosigner’s primary responsibility is to pay the loan if the primary borrower fails to do so,” she says. “If you don’t sing well and I’m not paying attention, my reputation would be tarnished. I’m the experienced one and yet I didn’t step up to perform. 

“The same thing applies here.

“A potential cosigner has to carefully evaluate their financial situation before agreeing to cosign a loan. If you were to make a late payment, it’ll show up as if I made it late too. Miss a payment, my credit takes a hit. If you get a car repossessed, it shows on my credit history too.”

The Legal Obligations of You and Your Cosigner

“There are other factors to consider too,” says Sarah.

She goes on to explain that both the primary borrower and cosigner share ownership of the car. This continues until the loan is paid off. 

This means that both have equal rights and responsibilities with the car. These include the use, maintenance, registration, and sale of it. 

If there is ever a dispute, the cosigner has the right to take the vehicle as well. They are essentially an owner of the used car or authorized user. If good communication is not maintained, there can be serious issues that arise. 

There is also the liability both parties hold for any damages from accidents. In the event that an insurance company doesn’t pay out, both parties would need to. If they don’t the car lender could sue both John and his cosigner. 

Relationship Risks with Cosigners

She continues to tell John about the potential risks to a friendship. She explains that his relationship with his cosigner will be strained in the event he defaults.

His cosigner may feel betrayed, angry, or disappointed by his failure to repay the loan that they helped him get. They may also resent having to pay for his debt or deal with the legal consequences of his default. 

Not to mention the cosigner’s credit history would be tarnished and their future put into turmoil. This can cause a conflicts or misunderstandings between John and his cosigner, which can harm his personal or professional relationship. It can also lead to disputes over the used car and put everyone in a very tough position. 

In more serious situations, it can lead to John and his cosigner taking things to court. 

How to Find a Suitable Cosigner for Car Loans

a man looking under the couch trying to find a cosigner for car loans

“That sounds dangerous,” says John. 

“It is,” says Sarah. “So both the cosigner and signer need to be sure that they are comfortable with the risks.”

“Well, how would I be able to find a cosigner and make sure we don’t have those problems?”

“Great question!” says Sarah. “Let me show you.”

Who Can Be a Cosigner for Your Car Loan?

“First, you need to figure out who is best suited to be a cosigner for your car loan. There is a minimum requirement that needs to be met so they can be a cosigner for car loans.

“Not everyone meets those requirements. Nor is anyone who meets the requirements a good choice for you.”

“Why?” asks John. “If they meet the requirements to help the primary borrower, wouldn’t they all be a good choice?”

“That might seem like the case, but there are a few things to consider.”

What Are the Minimum Requirements for Being a Cosigner for Your Car Loan?

“Requirements will be different for each lender,” says Sarah. “This is the first sign that not everyone would be a good option. However, generally the lenders will require these specifications.”

She lists down the general requirements most auto lenders need. These include:

  • The cosigner must be at least 18 years old and a U.S. citizen or resident.
  • They must have a valid government photo ID and a social security number.
  • The cosigner must have a stable income.
  • They must also have sufficient income and assets to cover their own expenses and debt obligations. As part of this, they must also be able to cover the car loan payments if John defaults
  • The cosigner must have a good credit score and history. They cannot have recent or serious negative marks. These include late payments, defaults, bankruptcies, or foreclosures.
  • The cosigner must be willing and able to sign the car loan contract of their own free will. They must also share the legal responsibility of repaying the loan.

What Are Some Qualities That You Should Avoid in a Cosigner for Car Loans?

“Let’s say that they meet all of these requirements,” she continues. “Their character may make them riskier to use as a cosigner for car loans.”

“How so?” asks John.

“Both of you are putting your financial reputation on the line when you cosign for car loans. This means your relationship is on the line as well. If they do not put any thought into it and do not communicate with you ahead of time, it could be a ticking time bomb. 

“If they are not financially stable at the time, they could make choices that can put you into a bind. They can go into distress at any moment. Since they are owners of the car as well, they could try to force your hand and sell.

“There is also the issue of emotional stability. If they get upset, imagine them reacting extremely negatively. What if they try to take your car from you? Their part owners, nothing you can do.”

“How is that a thing? I’m paying for it,” says John.

Sarah shrugs. “So are they, with their credit. And credit is money, John.”

“Damn, that seems complicated.”

“It can be, but doesn’t have to.”

Who Are Some People that can be Good Cosigners for Car Loans?

a man with a bag on his head with a question mark on it representing who can be a cosigner for car loans

“If you find the right people,” says Sarah. “You can avoid a lot of potential pitfalls.”

“Like who?”

“For starters, your parents or relatives. If they fit the requirements, they can be great candidates. They support you, believe in you, and want to see you succeed.” 

“I don’t feel comfortable asking them,” says John.

“I figured. If you had a girlfriend or spouse, these would be a great option. Obviously, because they’re close to you and directly vested in your future.”

John furrows his brows, annoyed by Sarah’s comment. 

Sarah laughs, “I know, I know. No girlfriend. So the next option, are there any coworkers you’re close to?”

John thinks for a moment before saying, “I don’t think so.”

“If you did, they can be a good option but you need to lay down clear expectations.

“The last option is a close friend.” Sarah smiles. “Friends believe in you just as much as family does. Hell, even more!”

John smiles back, “Thanks, Sarah.”

“Don’t thank me yet, we’re not done.”

What Are Some Ways to Prevent Conflicts With Your Cosigner?

Sarah reminds John that there are conflicts that could come up with a cosigner. In order to avoid them, establishing expectations is crucial. She suggest that there are three key things to address ahead of time. 

Communicate Ahead of Time With Your Cosigner

Being clear and respectful before signing the car loan contract is crucial to avoiding future conflict. 

She explains that John needs to discuss and agree on all the details and terms of the car loan first. These include the loan amount, interest rate, fees, payment schedule, insurance coverage, and ownership rights. 

The biggest thing is making sure both John and his cosigner understand and accept the risks and responsibilities.

Write down everything you agree on and sign it as a contract or a memorandum of understanding.

Communicate With Your Cosigner Regularly

After signing the car loan contract, frequent communication will help everyone stay at ease. 

Sarah suggests keeping John’s cosigner informed of his financial situation. If any changes have arisen that could affect John’s ability to pay the car loan, the cosigner needs to know. 

If there are any problems or disputes with the lender, John should involve the cosigner. They should work together to find a solution.

Communicate With Your Cosigner Calmly and Politely

If you have any conflicts or misunderstandings over the car loan, approaching the cosigner calmly is key. 

“Try to understand their perspective and feelings,” says Sarah. “Don’t blame, accuse, or insult them. They have feelings, just as you do. 

“Once you hear them out, ask if you can explain your side. Focus on finding common ground and a win-win outcome. In a worst-case scenario, ask someone outside the situation to help solve the issue.”

“Like who?” asks John.

“Mediator, counselor, a friend of both who can stay unbiased, or a lawyer.”

“I don’t think I want to do that.”

“It sounds horrible, I know,” says Sarah. “I just need you to be aware of what could go wrong. Don’t assume it’s unicorns and rainbows.”

She chuckles only to suddenly stop. 

How to Ask Someone to Be Your Cosigner for Car Loans

a man asking someone to be his cosigner for car loans

She puts her fingers up and says, “It can be! But you need to be aware and need to lay down the foundation. If you find someone well suited to be a cosigner for car loans, you’ll need to ask them first. Remember, if you do it right, it’ll be great for you both.”

Be Respectful

“It’s really important to be respectful and honest with anyone you ask to be a cosigner for your car loan. You’re asking them for a favor and to put their trust in you. This is a huge ask.”

“Is there something specific I should do?” asks John.

“Yes,” says Sarah. “First, just let them know the issue and why it is happening. Be completely transparent about your past. If you had bad credit, disclose why. 

“In your case, you just don’t have any credit. Either way, it’s nothing to be ashamed of. 

“Don’t try to exaggerate or lie about your financial situation. Explain why you need the vehicle and what it will help you accomplish. Then show them what your plan is to make sure the car is paid off. Provide them with any evidence of this plan, like paystubs, bank statements, bills, etc.

“I know it’s not super comfortable to talk about money with others. However, you’re asking them to put their own money on the line. The least you can do is show them yours.”

“Yeah, I could understand that,” says John, nodding. 

Show Them Proof

“Have all of your documents ready to show them. These include your income and expenses, credit report, as well as car loan details. Most of all, prepare a cosigner agreement ahead of time that clearly outlines the terms and conditions.

“This means who will be the rightful owner so they cannot take it from you. It’ll also mean who will be responsible for the car payments. You want to make sure you know how you will communicate, and how problems will be handled. This will show them that you take them seriously and have put thought into it before asking willy nilly.”

“Haha! You said willy,” laughs John.

“Really?” says Sarah, letting her eyelids sag in annoyance. John shrugs. 

She shakes her head. “There’s a chance that they’ll still say no after all of this. That’s okay. Just be respectful and understanding. 

“Remember, It’s a big ask. Not everyone is comfortable with this type of favor.”

“What if they ask me a bunch of questions and start making demands?”

Be Open-Minded & Grateful

“If they ask you questions or make demands, it means they’re willing to help you but feel insecure. So validate their concerns and be considerate.”

“How?” asked John.

“Well if they want more transparency or different communication, show them you understand first. Repeat things back to them and let them know you’re okay with it. However, if they ask for things you’re not comfortable with, you can respectfully decline too.

“It’s nothing personal and by doing this you’re guaranteeing that.”

“Makes sense.”

“I hope so!” says Sarah. “No matter what happens, show them you appreciate their consideration.”

Cosigning a Car Loan in Fresno, CA

“In the used car market of Fresno, CA, a cosigner for used car loans can offer substantial benefits. The risks are there, sure, but a cosigner can help push you over the edge. They can help secure a loan, negotiate better interest rates, and enhance trust with the auto lender. 

If all else fails, you can still turn to an in house financing dealership. But even they will appreciate a cosigner.”

“Thanks Sarah, I really appreciate your help,” says John. Sarah smiles and nods her head. “You know, now that I think of it. Would you be comfortable being my cosigner for car loans?”

She laughs. “How did I know you were going to ask me?” 

John chuckles alongside her. She smiles and says. “Let’s go get you approved for a car.”

Cosigner for Car Loans

a car key with a car loan application that's been approved

What happens if the primary borrower defaults on their auto loan?

  • If John doesn’t pay, Sarah is responsible for repaying the remaining balance of the auto loan.

Can a cosigner help if I have bad credit?

  • Yes, Sarah, as a cosigner with good credit can increase John’s chances of car loan approval. 
  • She can help him potentially get better terms, a lower down payment, and possibly secure better interest rates. You can also look for in house financing. Our own local buy here pay here used car dealership in Fresno CA offers it. We do not require a cosigner for car loans either! 

Can a cosigner be removed from a car loan?

  • Some car lenders may allow Sarah to be removed if John meets certain conditions. For most car loans, however, this is not allowed. John would be required to refinance the vehicle under his own name. John should check with the potential auto lender ahead of time to see what options are available.

What are the requirements for a cosigner?

  • Sarah as the cosigner would typically need to have a good credit score. She would need a stable income, a balanced debt-to-income, and the ability to repay the loan if necessary. However, buy here pay here requirements for cosigners are a lot less strict.

Can I Change My Cosigner if I Have Problems With Mine or Find a Better One?

  • No, John cannot change his cosigner once they have been locked in. Both Sarah and John would be legally bound until the loan is paid off. John can request removal of the Sarah but it’s up to the car lender if they approve it. John should first try to communicate with Sarah and try to resolve things on their own. 

What is the role of a cosigner in in-house financing?

  • In in-house financing, Sarah as a cosigner can help assure car loan repayment. She can enhance trust between John and the dealership. This is not always the case, as John is the focus.

Can I Get a Car Without a Cosigner?

Where Can I Find More Information on How to Get a Car Loan with Bad Credit or No Credit?

We hope this article has helped you understand the role of a cosigner for car loans. While there are risks involved, they can be a great benefit to you. 

If you are ready to get a car loan with bad credit or no credit, please visit our website. Be sure to take a look at most of our used car inventory on there too. You can also contact us today for more information on our in house financing options

We look forward to hearing from you soon!

Shameless Plug –
Contact Us Today to Get Approved For Your Pre Owned Vehicle

If you’re in the market for a used car, truck, SUV, or van, and you’re worried about your credit score, we are here to help

Our team will help you get the pre-owned vehicle you need. With timely payments, it can improve your credit and set you off on your path toward financial freedom.

Thousands of other happy customers of the Fresno area just like you have already been approved and are on their path to a better future. With low down payments starting at only $500, great premiums for your trade-in, and a free warranty, you’ll be set up to succeed from the start.

Contact us today! Learn all about our selection of pre-owned vehicles and bad credit car financing options.

Extra Resources To Help On Your Journey

We love to share the wealth! Here are some resources and trusted vendors that we personally use. They can help you take care of your vehicle as well as keep your credit and finances in tip-top shape:

Car Parts

High Quality and Affordable Car Parts: Advance Auto Parts

High Quality Dash Cams and Car Accessories: Rexing USA or VanTrue or Nextbase

Car Audio & Sound Systems: Eonon 

Premium Wiper Blades & Accessories: Clix Auto

Easy Key Replacement & Programming DIY: Car Keys Express

High-Quality Orignal and Custom Car Lighting: LASFIT

Quality Car Parts/Accessories (mats, covers, assemblies): Oedro

Premium Car Detailing Supplies: Chemical Guys

High-Performance Car Parts & Air Filters: KN Filters 

High-Performance Parts: Max Speeding Rods

Speed and Performance Parts: Spectre Performance

Air Intakes: Airaid

Original & Aftermarket Wheels: OE Wheels LLC

Battery Tenders: Deltran Battery

High-Quality Tires Of All Types: Priority Tire or Discount Tire

DIY Car Extras

In the event your dealer doesn’t provide you a history report: VinAudit

To learn to recondition your old car battery: EZ Battery Reconditioning

For DIY Ford vehicle repair: Ford Shop

To learn to take some knicks out of your car’s paint: High Quality Car Spray

If you find yourself in need of a car rental: Discover Cars or Airport Rental Cars or Holiday Autos

If you’d like to see what public car auctions are like: Gov Auctions or Gov Seized Auction

Personal Finance & Credit

To help you improve your credit: Axion Credit Repair or Coast Tradelines

For a DIY credit repair course: DIY Credit Repair

To help you get free of debt and increase your credit: What Lies In Your Debt?

If you’re in a bind and need cash quickly: Bad Credit Loans or Cash Advance

For personal loans of higher quantities: Fortuna Credit or Personal Loans

For a high cash-back credit card (make sure you only use it as if it’s a debit card!): Laurelroad 

We will keep sharing all our vendors that we have a great experience with. Only the ones we see align with our values as time goes on, both locally and nationwide.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is for educational purposes only. It is not financial advice. Always consult with a qualified financial professional for personalized guidance.

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