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Paying for a Car
- If you’re planning to finance, use an online car loan calculator so you don’t negotiate beyond your budget. (Most banks have online car loan calculators, or try the one at www.bankrate.com.) Play with the calculator to find what your monthly payments would look like so you can narrow in on the price range of cars you can look at.
- Don’t forget to factor in insurance, gas and maintenance costs when figuring out how a car payment will fit into your budget.
- Shop several banks or credit unions for a loan shortly before you visit the car lot. Although dealers offer financing, you might find a better deal on your own. Compare the APR (the annual interest rate) and make sure you understand how the interest rate might change if you make a mistake, such as missing a payment.
- Always negotiate the car’s price based on the TOTAL cost of the car, not on the monthly payment.
- A car dealer may offer to sell you an extended service contract or extended warranty. Read all the fine print before you agree. The FTC has helpful information on car loans and service contracts at www.consumer.ftc.gov/topics/buying-owning-car.
- Make sure to read and understand all loan and the car sale documents before you sign. If you aren’t sure about something, ask. Or take the document home so a saavy friend or relative take a look before you sign.
The Department of Consumer Affairs’ mission is to make sure people who live or shop in Cuyahoga County get what they pay for.