Tips for Smart Car Shoppers
By Jeff Youngs, February 24, 2012
- Know what you can afford. Decide what type of car you really need, and set a price range that fits your budget.
- Research. Gather all the information you can find _ including safety, quality, fuel economy, and insurance information _ to learn about the vehicles on your short list.
- Review your credit report. Get free copies of your credit report once a year by calling 1-877-322-8228 toll-free or visiting www.annualcreditreport.com.
- Comparison shop. Compare interest rates and loan products from a variety of sources including banks, credit unions, online lenders, and dealers.
- Understand the difference between buying and leasing. Download a free government publication called "Keys to Vehicle Leasing" at www.federalreserve.gov/pubs/leasing.
- Educate yourself. Become familiar with common financing terms and practices so that you're able to make informed decisions.
- Negotiate. Take time negotiating the vehicle's price as well as the financing. Make sure the terms are acceptable before signing the contract.
- Understand the meaning, value, and price of optional services. Examples include credit insurance, guaranteed auto protection, and extended service contracts.
- Read contracts carefully before signing. Ask questions about anything you don't understand, and be aware of any laws that are specific to your state.
- Make your payments on time. Avoid late or missed payments. Repeated missed payments could lead to repossession and damage your credit. A negative mark on your credit report could affect your ability to get credit in the future.