Do Your Homework

Before you sign on the car loan line, do your homework. Be sure you have answers to the following questions:

Step 1: What are my transportation needs and what car do I want?
Before you find out what loans and interest rates are available, figure out what vehicle best suits your needs. In addition to many new vehicle choices, there are a variety of cars, trucks, vans and SUVs available on the market today, including crossover vehicles that embrace car, truck, van and SUV characteristics, as well as green cars with electric-based engines and gas and electric hybrids that tout a much friendlier relationship with our environment than standard gas and diesel burning engines. offers a variety of new car tools to help you choose the vehicle that best fits your needs and your lifestyle.

Step 2: How much do I know about the vehicle I want to buy?
Once you've figured out which vehicle you'd like to buy, research as much as possible about that car including price, options packages, exterior and interior color choices, safety ratings, reviews, incentives and rebates and any vehicle extras you might be interested in.

Again, offers you several new car tools to help you're your research.

Step 3: How much can I afford in terms a monthly payment?
Once you're comfortable with the vehicle choice you've made, determine how much you can spend each month to pay for that car. Remember that interest rates, the amount of your down payment and your credit will ultimately impact your monthly payment, so be sure to take these factors into consideration when determining exactly what your monthly payment will be.

Later in this section, well discuss how to calculate a general monthly car payment.

Step 4: How's my credit?
Next, you need to have a working knowledge of your credit because your credit rating will ultimately impact the type of financing available to you.

For your convenience, you can obtain a copy of your personal credit report at in our credit report center.

Step 5: What finance rates are being offered?
Once you've determined the vehicle you're interested in purchasing, the monthly payment you can afford and your credit history, now its time to research the types of financing rates available to you. offers free online loan quotes in its vehicle financing center or you can contact a variety of banks, lending institutions or the dealer from which you'll purchase the vehicle to determine the loan package thats best for you.

Step 6: From where will I secure my automotive loan?
Finally, its time to select your automotive lender. Again, its up to you to determine which lending institution and loan options are best for you. And remember, there may be restrictions on the most attractive rates or terms from any credit source.