Regardless of the type of credit you have, financing a used car can take a lot of your time and patience, not to mention money.  But it doesn’t have to be that way. Just do some minor homework before going car shopping and you’ll be surprised how easy things can be.  Here are a few tips on what to do before walking on a dealership’s lot.

1. Review your credit report

You shouldn’t apply for financing without first knowing your credit status and score. It is critical to make sure your credit report is in the best shape possible before shopping for a vehicle. If the status of a loan is incorrectly reported it may deduct points from your credit score. Therefore you should investigate and resolve any account that is incorrectly reported. If you spot any signs of identity theft immediately report it to Equifax, Experian and Transunion.

annualcreditreport.com will provide you with a free copy of your credit report from all three of the credit reporting agencies. These reports show your creditors, loan balances, payment amounts, and whether you are current or delinquent with your payments. The credit reports from annualcreditreport.com will not provide you a free credit score.

To obtain your credit score go to each individual credit reporting agency and request your score. This information is generally not provided on a free basis.

2. Set a budget and stick to it

It’s very easy to be tempted to overspend when you are at the car dealership, sitting behind the wheel of your dream car.  Before you get too excited about your new purchase, it’s a good idea to know your price range for the vehicle you want to buy and stick within that range. As a general rule monthly car payments should not exceed 15 percent of your monthly net income. Once you have figured out your budget bring a printout to the dealership as a reminder.

3. Review all details before signing the dotted line

When buying a used car many consumers don’t review the purchase contract thoroughly before signing.  As a result, they may agree to things they didn’t plan on buying such as an extended service contract or unnecessary rust-proofing. Before you sign any papers or hand over any money, check the figures in the contract and understand all the charges. All extra fees should be questioned immediately. Consumers who feel out of their comfort zone should walk away from the deal.

If you do your homework and know what to expect before financing a used car the paperwork process can go quickly and easily. But more importantly, you will receive a used car loan that you can feel good about for the life of the car.

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