Research before going to a dealership:
- Work out a budget before shopping for a vehicle so you know the price range and monthly payments you can afford. You should also consider how much money you have available for a down payment and to pay sales tax on the vehicle.
- Get a copy of your credit report so you are aware of what creditors will see. A free copy of your credit report is available at AnnualCreditReport.com. Errors or negative information can impact your ability to get credit as well as your finance rate if you get approved. You should try to correct errors as soon as possible.
- If you have a trade-in vehicle, research its approximate trade-in value.
- Research the vehicles that you are considering for purchase, know their approximate value, and read consumer reviews to find out what other consumers are saying about a particular vehicle. Information can be found in auto buying guides, on the internet, at your bank and other sources.
- Unless you are able to pay cash, remember that you are shopping for two things — an automobile and financing. Shop for each separately. Compare current finance rates being offered by contacting various banks, credit unions or other lenders. Compare bank quotes and dealer quotes and know any limitations on the rate, such as if the rate is only available on late-model automobiles.
- You are not restricted to only financing with an automobile dealer. You should also explore other financing options such as local or national banks and credit unions. If you finance through a dealer, request information about the “buy rate” in order to avoid hidden markups.
- Consider whether you will need additional products, such as guaranteed asset protection (“GAP”), extended service contracts or credit insurance. If you do not want these products, then do not sign for them. If you decide you do need such products, then you can shop for them just like you shop for financing.
- Shop around for the best dealers, lending rates, and insurance providers to avoid businesses with bad reputations.
When visiting a dealership:
- Stay within the price range you can afford.
- Do not feel pressured to make a decision in the moment. Ask to take the paperwork home to review.
- Always ask for the vehicle’s history report, such as CARFax, before buying it.
- If purchasing a used vehicle, ask about arranging for an inspection by an independent mechanic before purchasing.
- Read the contract carefully before you sign. Do not sign it if it contains any blank spaces.
- Take a copy of the contract and all documents you signed with you when you leave.
- If you decide to consider dealer financing, get copies of the financing documents before you sign so that you can comparison shop for financing from other sources.
- If the financing terms change after you take the automobile home, you have the right to walk away from the deal without penalty. This is called a Yo-Yo Sale, which is illegal in Arkansas.