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Preparing for an Auto Purchase?
Nothing beats the rush of taking a new car for a spin and receiving the best deal on it feels even better. But first things first - getting finances in gear is an important beginning to finding the right car.

Here are some things that new car buyers should consider:

  • Credit report and score. Before sitting down and meeting with lenders or a representative from dealer financing, reviewing the credit report and score first can alert a buyer to possible inaccuracies, missing information, or identity theft that could affect personal credit. And remember, checking your own credit report will not affect your score.
  • Budget. An auto loan requires monthly payments for the length of the loan. It is important for a potential buyer to think about how much they can afford to spend on auto payments every month. Additional costs such as gasoline, maintenance, insurance, and miscellaneous car care are also factors that may vary from car to car.
  • Research. Information is key to help a potential buyer make the right decisions. In addition to knowing about their personal credit, there are other areas to consider:
    • Autos rate differently in terms of value, repairs, safety, and other invaluable information. Reading car reviews at can help a potential buyer determine what is best for them. Some sections of this site will require consumers to subscribe.
    • Consumer car-buying and leasing resource guides such as offer suggestions on how to handle different car-shopping scenarios.
    • Pricing information for cars and available options can be checked from the manufacturers websites. The buyer may also want to compare other pricing sites such as Inc. to get a better idea of what the average price of a particular car would be.
    • If the potential buyer has a trade-in, they may want to check out guides to help find the value of the trade-in vehicle. Online guides include Kelley Blue Book and offline guides include the Consumer Reports Used Car Buying Guide.
  • Shop around. A potential buyer may want to put on some comfortable shoes and visit several different car dealerships. A driver's license is required to take a car for a test-drive. The factory sticker lists the Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP). The sticker will list information such as the features of the car, including its fuel-efficiency rating for city and highway. A dealer's sticker may also be available and includes options and services provided outside of the factory. A potential buyer may want to take notes when comparison shopping.
  • Negotiate. Once the buyer has narrowed down their decision, they will want to negotiate a fair price. A common negotiating technique is to start at the dealer's cost of the vehicle and work up from there. It is important for the buyer to know their ceiling and not exceed it. Competitive information from different dealers may be used to the buyer's benefit. A consumer shouldn't be afraid to walk away and come back later if they don't feel comfortable making a decision right away.
  • Making the purchase. Once the buyer has made a decision to purchase a particular car, they will need to make some financing decisions. They can shop around for different rates and terms while keeping in mind what is contained in the fine print. The buyer can also look for special promotions, rebates, and warranties that may apply.

Shopping for a new car can be an exciting time. Being organized, thorough, and knowledgeable puts the buyer in the driver's seat throughout the process. After the car shopping experience, the buyer may discover more items to add to pass along to other auto buyers.

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