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Car Buying Tips

What You Need to Know Before Buying a Car

Incentive packages make buying a new car almost irresistable to but there are some very important credit report and financial questions you should consider before you visit that car dealer.

(ARA) – Auto sales plunged to a 26-year low at the beginning of the year, which is why many car makers are offering incentives to entice consumers back to the auto market.

But before jumping into the market, you should gain a clear understanding of your credit and financial profile to know what you qualify for and if it’s the right time for you to buy a car.

“Through a simple check of their credit reports and scores, many consumers are likely to find that they’re in a solid position when it comes to cashing in on these troubled-economy car deals,” says Lucy Duni, vice president of consumer education at by TransUnion. “At the same time, it’s important for consumers to set their limits based on their credit position and their overall finances, because there are many costs associated with making a car purchase, including regular maintenance fees and insurance.” is offering simple tips to guide consumers on the road to making a smart car purchase:

Tip 1: Rev-up your report knowledge.

Review your credit report on an ongoing basis to ensure it accurately reflects your credit history. Your history will dictate your credit score and your score affects your loan rates. Always know where you stand by signing up for TrueCredit Messenger, a free application that is downloaded to your desktop and lets you know when there’s been a critical change to your report.

Tip 2: Make necessary tune-ups.

Whether or not you’re in the market for a new car now, keep a close eye on your credit report. If you spot something that doesn’t look right, you should first contact the creditor involved. If that doesn’t solve the problem or if the issue doesn’t involve a specific credit or loan account, contact the appropriate credit-reporting company directly. If you have significant issues with your reports, consider delaying your purchase until those issues are resolved to help you get the best rate available.

Tip 3: Protect Yourself.

Your credit behavior influences more than just your loan rate. It often plays a role in determining the monthly insurance premiums for your home and car. If you’re getting ready to shop for insurance, Insurance Scores let you see ahead of time how you’ll likely be viewed, allowing you to take proactive steps to improve your own credit health that could result in lower premiums.

Tip 4: Make an age-defying purchase.

Decide if you want to buy a new or used car. Buying a used car can save you a heap of money if you do your research. Since new cars generally depreciate 10 to 35 percent during the first two years, it's a good idea to check the depreciation rate on the car you're interested in by looking up the current price and the price for the same car made two years earlier. On the other hand, many of the factory incentives are on new models, so you may get a better deal with a new car right now. It’s important to shop around to find the best deal for you.

Tip 5: Luxury vs. economy -- calculate how much you can afford.

Before you decide that a car is right for you, it's a good idea to evaluate your balance of debts and assets to see how much you can really afford. Also determine if you have a trade-in or down payment to help you pay for the car. These assets can help you negotiate a better rate with lenders and can be especially important if you have problem credit.

Tip 6: Navigate your options.

When you're ready to talk to lenders it's a good idea to shop around for the best available interest rate. Visit your local bank or credit union to discuss applying for an auto loan. Financing with the car dealer can sometimes be more expensive, so pricing out your options is a good idea. And don’t worry. Shopping your loan with multiple lenders over a several weeks will generally have the same net effect on your credit reports as checking only with one lender.

For more tips on managing your credit, visit

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