When choosing what model of vehicle is right for you, determine what’s most important—safety, high MPG, hauling capabilities, etc.
Determine how much payment you can afford. Banks and finance companies like for your vehicle payment to be less than 20% of your after-tax income. They also review your total debt (house, cars, credit cards, student loans, etc) to income when reviewing loan applications. Your total debt should be than 35% of the total household income.
Know how much down payment you can put towards your new or used vehicle. Most banks and finance companies require 15-20% down in cash, rebates, incentives or trade equity.
Have a general idea as to how much your trade-in is worth towards the purchase of a new vehicle. Many sites can estimate the value of your trade-in, but only a dealership vehicle appraiser can give you a firm trade offer based on all factors, including the local market.
Be realistic about your finance options based on your credit score. You can pull your credit at www.AnnualCreditReport.com once per year for free. The higher your credit score the more finance options that will be available to you. The lower your credit score the more likely you are to pay a higher interest rate on your loan.
Be honest with your dealership sales professional regarding your wants, needs, credit and down payment, so he or she can help you find a vehicle that both meets your needs and fits within your budget.
Make an appointment for a test drive at the dealership to save time. In addition to the test drive, use this time to inspect the car inside and out and ask your sales professional any questions you may have about the vehicle.
If purchasing a pre-owned vehicle, ask your sales professional for a vehicle history report or request one from CarFax or AutoCheck.
Purchasing a new or used vehicle requires a considerable amount of paperwork. You can help speed the process up by bringing documents necessary for purchase to the dealership with you. Driver’s license, proof of income and proof of residence of all buyers are standard documents required by most finance companies.
If purchasing a new or certified pre-owned vehicle, ask your sales professional about any applicable incentives, rebates and/or special interest rates.
When purchasing a new or pre-owned vehicle, consider options like extended service contracts and GAP coverage to help cover any vehicle-related costs you may incur down the road.
After your purchase, take a few minutes to meet your dealership service adviser. Schedule your first maintenance appointment (oil change) at the time of purchase so you can properly maintain your new vehicle.