Whether you are about to embark on the journey to car ownership for the first time, are adding a second family vehicle or are upgrading your vehicle of choice, chances are you are going to need some financing. Rather than step into the dealership and fill out all the forms they toss your way, you should do your homework to get the best car loans have to offer. Here are eight ways you can prepare for vehicle financing.
1. Check your credit report. If possible, get a copy of your report three to six months prior to your car purchase. This will give you time to request corrections on incorrect information and make payments on outstanding debt. It can take a few months for the credit agencies to update information on your report and adjust your score appropriately.
2. Know what you can afford. Define a reasonable monthly payment that you will not go over when buying a car. Then, use online calculators for car loans to determine what price, interest rates and loan terms will fit within that budget. Do not agree to terms that do not comply with your needs.
3. Shop around by looking at vehicles online and at local dealerships. Even if you know you will deal with a certain company, come prepared to haggle with competitor pricing or information about special offers.
4. Make the most of cash back and other manufacturer specials. If you a considering a car purchase in the next year, you should keep an eye out for advertisements or online information about offers. This is especially true toward the end of the year when the industry is preparing for the next line of models.
5. Have a down payment ready, if possible. Down payments for car loans can take the form of a paid-off trade in or cash. Depending on the type of car you are looking to purchase, you should have between $1,000 and $5,000 value in down payment. Most financial institutions will not require this much or may not require a down payment at all. However, the more you are able to put down, the more flexible your purchase options will be.
6. Be aware of your finance options. Research online to discover suitable loan companies. Through sites like myAutoloan, you can even apply for pre-approved car loans, providing instant leverage for haggling at a dealership. When you already have financing, you are less dependent on the dealership and can concentrate on getting a great deal.
7. Research all the options ahead of time and write down the list of extras you really want. Do not let yourself be talked into spur of the moment decisions on things like warranties, special coatings or entertainment systems.
8. Be sure you know what options are available on your vehicle of choice. If the dealership does not have a vehicle with the options you want, ask if they can order it or get it from another dealership.
Putting a bit of extra work in before you arrive at the car lot can make the entire experience less of a hassle. It is especially important when dealing with car loans to have your ducks, paperwork and expectations in a row.