An inquiry will stay on your credit report for two years from the date of the inquiry. However, the effect of the inquiry on credit scores will start to decline right away.
FICO does not include any inquires in the score calculation after 12 months. Even then, the effects of inquiries on your score are minimal and the impact decreases over time. Typically, over two or three months, the inquiry has little or no effect at all.
If you are shopping for a car loan, an inquiry from each lender that reviewed the application will be on the report, but the credit scoring systems will recognize them as one inquiry if they were made within a certain period of time. Therefore, they will have little to no effect on the score at all.
You can shop for the best car loans and not have to worry about inquires. The same is true with mortgage loans.
Inquiries are the least important factor in credit scores.
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Scoped on: 07/19/2016