It’s also important to take a close look at the details of any payment plan that is offered to you to make sure that the terms, interest rate and period are competitive with that which you could get from your bank. Sitting down with a calculator and determining the real cost components of any monthly payment plan you have been offered will give you the real picture of exactly where your money is going.
Down payments are another gray area. There are those who recommend making the largest down payment that you can afford on your vehicle – typically around 20 percent, although some say as much as half – in order to avoid the interest costs associated with financing. However, an equally vocal contingent will warn buyers against making any cash down payment at all before a deal is inked. In some cases, if dealers walk away from the bargaining table they can take your down payment with them if a contract hasn't been signed. If you must make a down payment or deposit on a car to get priority at a dealership, try doing it with a credit card so you can get your money back if things turn sour.
With all of these warnings, caveats and traps to look out for, it can sometimes make it seem like car financing is a complete nightmare. That doesn't have to be the case. As long as a buyer is completely informed about what is happening with regards to their financing, and as long as the negotiation process, fees and interest rates are completely transparent and spelled out on paper, then there is no reason to fear financing this major purchase. Financing can help you manage your cash flow and keep you from tying up all of your resources in a single asset – making sure you will be prepared to deal with any unexpected financial issues that life may throw at you. No one wants to have to sell their car due to hardship, and with the right financing, it doesn't have to happen.