4 Steps to Take Before Buying Your Next Car

It's that time of year - summer car buying season is in full swing. Many dealers are offering great incentives to move cars off their lots to make room for the arrival of new models in the fall. Since buying a car is one of the biggest investments many of us make, it is important to be prepared so you can walk off the lot confident that you've bought the right car.

Once you've researched reviews and valuations and decided on the vehicle you want to buy, consider these four tips from Experian Automotive to help you make the right purchase:

  1. Check your credit score: Knowing where your credit history falls in the range of risk is more important than ever before. Auto lenders use scoring models to predict the chances that you might become delinquent on your auto loan payments. How you have paid your automotive accounts in the past strongly influences the loan amount and interest rate you can expect to receive on your next vehicle purchase. Knowing where your credit history falls in the range of risk may give you the leverage you need to negotiate for the rates you deserve. You can get your credit report and score at www.experian.com.
  2. Know how much you can afford to spend on a down payment: It's important to know how much you can afford to spend on a down payment before you go to the dealer. If you are able to offer a solid down payment on a car, you will be in a better position to negotiate the final sale price of the vehicle as well as the terms of your loan. And the lower your credit score, the larger the down payment you may be required to make. Awareness of how much you're willing to spend on a down payment can empower you to secure an even better deal, as well as help you understand what which cars you can afford.
  3. Research loan options on your own: It's a good idea to get pre-qualified for an auto loan before visiting an auto dealer. Knowing what loan options you have may influence the dealer to beat an offer from your bank with a better interest rate and lower monthly payments. Before heading to the dealership, check with your bank or credit union to see what loan rates are available.
  4. Request your vehicle history report: If you decide to buy a used car or truck, you should always have a licensed mechanic physically inspect the vehicle whenever possible. You should also conduct your own inspection of the vehicle's past by requesting a vehicle history report from your dealer or purchasing a report yourself at AutoCheck.com to determine exactly what you're getting. The report will provide you with all reported events for that vehicle (odometer readings, vehicle registrations, title transfers, accident damage, emissions inspections) in addition to any issues with the vehicle's title, any unexpected odometer readings, whether the vehicle was ever a rental or used as a service vehicle, and your AutoCheck Score. This score is a tool that enables you to understand a vehicle's past quickly and easily, compare it to other vehicles, and lower the risk of buying a vehicle with undetected problems.

Buying a car is an exciting time in everyone's life, so before you rush out to the dealership, make sure you are prepared to get the most bang for your buck. Knowing where you stand financially as well as the current auto loan market and the history of the car you want to buy will give you the leverage to drive off the lot with the knowledge that you have made a sound investment.


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