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Tips for Smart Car Shoppers

Tips for Smart Car Shoppers

By Jeff Youngs, February 24, 2012
  1. Know what you can afford. Decide what type of car you really need, and set a price range that fits your budget.
  2. 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.
  3. Review your credit report. Get free copies of your credit report once a year by calling 1-877-322-8228 toll-free or visiting
  4. Comparison shop. Compare interest rates and loan products from a variety of sources including banks, credit unions, online lenders, and dealers.
  5. Understand the difference between buying and leasing. Download a free government publication called "Keys to Vehicle Leasing" at
  6. Educate yourself. Become familiar with common financing terms and practices so that you're able to make informed decisions.
  7. Negotiate. Take time negotiating the vehicle's price as well as the financing. Make sure the terms are acceptable before signing the contract.
  8. Understand the meaning, value, and price of optional services. Examples include credit insurance, guaranteed auto protection, and extended service contracts.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
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