You should now be ready to go out and get a great financing deal. Just remember these important tips:
- The best strategy for finding a car loan is to shop around. Check out what deals are offered in the marketplace (rebates, low financing, etc.) before you decide to buy a specific car.
- Find out your credit score and, if necessary, correct errors at the credit bureaus.
- Compare interest rates at banks and credit unions, and ask about fees and early payoff calculations. When you've found the best outside loan, apply and get preapproved. Then visit the car dealer with a check in hand to cover the purchase price of the car, plus any sales tax and registration fees.
- Don't be afraid to investigate dealer financing and automakers' captive finance companies to see if they're offering lower interest rate incentives. But whatever you do, says Susan Tiffany of the Credit Union National Association, "don't buy a car just because somebody's offering a deal on it. Make sure you like the car."
- Be careful in the financing and insurance, or F&I, office at the dealership. Don't be afraid to turn down last-minute add-ons like extended warranties. Understand all the details of the contract before you sign. Don't rush through the process.
- If you realize after the fact that you've gotten a bad financing deal, remember that you can always refinance. But if you do, refinance only the remainder of your term, and not its full original length.
© Cars.com 2/10/09