Westlake Financial Review
When you visit a dealership and the salesperson talks about financing, they may be talking about “captive” financing provided by the automakers themselves or they might mean a preferred lender, such as banks or financing companies like Westlake Financial. There’s a third option: so-called “buy here, pay here” dealers, but such in-housing financing typically comes with much higher rates than the other options we just mentioned.
About Westlake Financial
Owned by the Hankey Group, Westlake and other companies under the Hankey umbrella trace their history to a Midway Ford dealership in Los Angeles that was acquired in 1972. Along with auto and motorcycle loans, Westlake Financial provides title loans and title loan refinancing which we won’t be discussing here. Although you can’t apply directly for one of its car or motorcycle loans, Westlake works with more than 30,000 dealers across all 50 states.
Westlake Financial: At a glance
You may not get all the bells and whistles that come with financing a vehicle through an automaker such as Ford or Volkswagen when financing a car through Westlake. But the lender does allow you to search partner dealers’ inventory by ZIP code as well as apply for financing online, before you go to the dealership. Westlake may even reward you for doing so with a $300 incentive for starting the loan process through its website.
Here are a few more things to know about financing a car through Westlake:
- Soft credit pull to prequalify online: However, most of the information you’ll receive about the financing available to you will be done when you’re at the dealership.
- Competitive rates: While the lender doesn’t list specific rates and terms on its website, Westlake says it offers competitive rates as low as 2.99%. Most of the vehicles we found using Westlake’s inventory tool for 90001, a ZIP code in Los Angeles, where Westlake has its headquarters, were used vehicles but Westlake says it offers full-spectrum financing for franchise and independent dealers.
- Bad credit allowed: You may even qualify for financing with a bankruptcy or repossession in your credit history. However, credit may be tightening: the company said more customers in 2018 had credit scores at or above 600. In general, the best rates tend to go to those with the best credit.
Of course, Westlake Financial isn’t your only option for financing a car. When you’re shopping at a dealership looking for a car, the salesperson might be quick to push the financing it has to offer. A way to avoid this kind of pressure is to have your own financing options ready to go. Shop for rates with your own bank, credit union or online lender. You could also fill out an online form at LendingTree and receive up to five auto loan offers from up to five different lenders, based on your creditworthiness.
No matter where you shop it’s important to consider the APR and terms being offered. You could also get an idea for the best auto loan rates here.
How to apply for financing
Unlike direct financing companies, Westlake Financial does not provide the full loan application on its website because it offers auto loans through dealerships, not direct to consumers. There is an option to get a quote that will lead to a page requiring details such as personal, residential and employment information, as well as what year, model, make and trim of car you’re in the market for. You would go through a similar process by using the inventory tool and filling out its prequalification form.
Once submitted, those forms will go to Westlake’s dealership network in order to connect you with a dealer in your area. At the dealership you will have to provide further details to start the actual loan process. Here’s a list of the documents you may need at the dealership.
The fine print
- Co-applicants allowed
- Westlake services its own loans.
As an indirect lender, it’s difficult to find out much about Westlake Financial’s rates and terms through its website. This means that you will have to review the information at the dealership itself.
Of course, with any auto lender, those details may vary depending on your credit score, credit history, down payment amount and value of your trade-in, if you have one. It’s important to look at the various financial details of any loan you’re offered such as APR, terms, fees and what amount the dealership is offering on your trade-in. The salesperson will likely focus on the monthly car payment. While this is important, it does not give you a full picture of how much you’ll be paying over the course of the loan.
If the financing offered does not feel right, do not feel obligated to take it. There are other loan options available, and you could walk into the dealership with your own loan offer in hand.
Pros and cons of financing through Westlake Financial
Here’s a brief overview of the highlights and lowlights of financing through Westlake Financial:
Highlights of Westlake Financial loan financing
- May provide financing for people with bad credit.
- Shop for cars and apply for financing online, before stepping foot in the car lot. Westlake says you will get a same-day quote when you fill out the online form.
- No fees: Consumers won’t have to pay any loan fees when financing through Westlake.
Lowlights of Westlake Financial refinancing
- Specific rates and term information may only be available by filling out the forms we mentioned earlier or at the dealership. However, you may get a same-day quote by filling out the online form.
- Westlake Financial has an extensive number of negative reviews across multiple sites, including the Better Business Bureau
The bottom line: Who is Westlake Financial best for?
Westlake Financial may be a good option particularly for those with less-than-stellar credit searching for a used car at a dealership in the Westlake network. But again, it’s not your only option — there are other lenders specializing in auto loans for borrowers with bad credit.
You may be a good fit for Westlake Financial if you:
- Have bad credit and are in desperate need of an auto loan. When your credit score is low due to various reasons, many financial institutions may deny your loan application. In the case of Westlake Financial, it provides financing to those with low credit, but it will likely come at a cost of higher interest rates.
- Are looking to finance a motorcycle — Westlake offers loans on motorcycles at its partner dealerships.
You may be a bad fit for Westlake Financial if you:
- Have average or better credit and can weigh your options for an auto loan. There may be better rates out there for you. While Westlake says it has rates as low as 2.99%, you may qualify for a manufacturer’s low or 0% APR deal.
- Are looking to obtain a direct auto loan, or refinance an existing auto loan. Westlake Financial doesn’t offer auto refinancing. Westlake provides auto loans through dealerships.
The information in this article is accurate as of the date of publishing