Car Buying Tips

When to Buy


Historically, the end of the year is always the best time to buy a new car.

In addition to traditional lenders, local dealers are working closely with their neighborhood financial institutions to get their customers quality, affordable loans.

If your car is over five years old, typically you will start spending more on maintenance. Rather than put more money into your old car, it's usually smarter to use that money towards a down payment on a new vehicle, which offers the latest technology, a brand new warranty and more.

4 Car Buying Tips for Troubled Times from

  1. Have a budget and know what you can afford. Know your credit score.
  2. Get preapproved for a car loan through your bank or credit union even if you want to consider dealership financing. This allows you to negotiate as a "cash buyer." In the finance office, you can see if the dealership can beat your preapproved loan.
  3. Consider shopping for a used car or a certified used car. A used car that's just a few years old typically saves nearly 30 percent over a new car and depreciates more slowly since the biggest drop in value is in the first year.
  4. Consumers who still want to lease should look at the vehicles with the strongest residual values. Honda, Toyota and a number of other manufacturers are still offering lease specials for those with good credit.

Credit Tips

Ready to buy a new car? Credit is available.

If your credit isn’t so perfect, think about alternative sources, like credit unions, as a possibility for financing — or better yet, ask your local new car dealer for help. Dealers work closely with local financial institutions to get their customers affordable, quality loans.

The deals are happening.

Besides dealerships, where else can consumers learn about their financing options? One service, AWARE — Americans Well-informed on Automobile Retailing Economics — sponsors educational programs on vehicle financing., an online resource for automotive information, created the following:

  • Consumers with average credit scores will be required to make a down payment as high as 20 percent.
  • Lenders are restricting the length of loans; six year loans may no longer be an option for many consumers.
  • The minimum credit score required for an auto loan has risen to around 500.
  • The credit score required for the best loan rates has risen to at least 720, up from 700 a few months ago.
  • Consumers with the best credit can expect an interest rate as low as 5.95% while consumers with average credit may see rates as high as 12.5%. suggests the following strategies for consumers on the hunt for auto loans:

  • Get pre-approved for a loan before visiting the dealership.
  • Pay off credit cards with high balances to immediately improve your credit score.
  • Offer the highest down payment that your budget allows.
  • Look to credit unions, local banks and online lenders as alternative sources for auto loans.
  • Consider less expensive used and certified pre-owned cars if finding new car financing proves difficult.