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Before Visiting
An Auto Dealership

Prior to visiting an auto dealership consider the following:

  • Evaluate your financial situation and determine how much you can afford to pay each month. A longer-term finance contract may mean smaller monthly payments than a shorter term finance contract (if all other terms are the same) – but will result in more money paid over time on your contract.

  • Determine the price range of the vehicle you’re thinking
    of buying. Check newspaper ads, the Internet, and other publications.

  • Understand the value and cost of optional credit insurance
    if you agree to purchase.

  • Know the difference between buying and leasing a vehicle.

  • Be aware that your credit history may affect the finance rate you are able to negotiate. You’ll be able to get a lower rate if you’ve paid your monthly credit obligations on time.

  • Compare annual percentage rates and financing terms from multiple finance sources such as a bank, finance company and credit union. This information may also be available from the finance sources’ and vehicle manufacturers’ Web sites.

When visiting the dealership stay within the price range that you can afford.

  • Negotiate your finance or lease arrangements and terms.

  • Consider carefully whether the transaction is best for your budget and transportation needs.

  • Understand the value and cost of optional products such as an extended service contract, credit insurance or guaranteed auto protection, if you agree to purchase. If you don’t want these products, don’t sign for them.

  • Read the contract carefully before you sign. You are obligated once you have signed a contract.

  • After completing the vehicle purchase or lease be aware
    that if you financed the vehicle, the assignee (bank, finance company or credit union that purchases the contract) holds
    a lien on the vehicle’s title (and in some cases the actual title) until you have paid the contract in full.

  • Make your payments on time. Late or missed payments incur late fees, appear on your credit report and impact your ability to get credit in the future.

If You Encounter Financial Difficulty:

  • Talk to your creditors if you experience difficulties making your monthly payments. Explain your situation and the reason your payment will be late. Work out a repayment schedule with your creditors and, if necessary, seek the services of a reputable non-profit credit counseling agency.

  • Know your obligations. Repossession can occur if you fail to make timely payments. Creditor or assignee may take the vehicle in full satisfaction of the credit agreement or may sell the vehicle and apply the proceeds from the sale to the outstanding balance on the credit agreement. This second option is more common. If the vehicle is sold for less than what is owed, you may be responsible for the difference.

  • Be aware that the law in some states allows the creditor or assignee to repossess your vehicle without going to court.

  • Before You Arrive at a Dealership

Do some research:

  • Determine how much you can afford to finance and spend
    on a monthly payment by using the “Monthly Spending Plan” worksheet in this booklet.

  • Get a copy of your credit report so you are aware of what creditors will see. Errors or accurate negative information
    can impact your ability to get credit and/or your finance rate.

  • Identify your transportation needs.

  • Check auto buying guides, the Internet and other sources to find out the price range and other information for the vehicle you want to buy.

  • Compare current finance rates being offered by contacting various banks, credit unions or other lenders. Compare bank quotes and dealer quotes; there may be restrictions on the most attractive rates or terms from any credit source.


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