One of the most expensive purchases that you will probably make, outside of your mortgage on your home, is going to be a car. Even with the sky-rocketing price of gas these days, it seems a car is still something that everyone needs, even though the amount of driving around is decreasing due to fuel costs.
You have probably narrowed down your list of car candidates, both new or used, and decided on the features you must have, the features you'd like to have depending on the financing deal you can get worked out, and the features that are just plain gravy on the whole cake. You have probably done a significant amount of research on the topic, checking maintenance histories, safety rating and all of that.
But one of the things that you probably have not done is to shop for your car loan. Unfortunately, many consumers do not spend nearly as much time on this topic as they should, where the end result of their very limited research on a car loan and financing is that they are spending much more than they need to, which relates directly to the amount of down payment that they had to put down as well as an interest rate that is higher than it probably could be.
First of all, determine what your budget is, and this is something you should do definitely before you start shopping for a car loan, and probably also before you get your heart set on a specific car that might not fit into your budget at all, no matter how great of a car loan financing deal you can get arranged. As a rule of thumb, your car payment, plus all related expenses like tires, oil changes, standard maintenance, should total no more than about 10% of your income.
Now start your car loan shopping so that you can find the best loan for your car purchase. Of course there are the usual places you should check, like the loan program available through the car dealership. Sometimes this can be a great deal, especially with the factory incentives that you may get as rebates, but even if the deal sounds like a dream, do not sign on the dotted line until you have done comparison shopping. The car salesman may try to put some pressure on you with the standard line of "this deal probably will not be here a couple days from now", but do not fall for it. If it's here today, rest assured that he definitely wants to make a sale, and that deal or a better one will be there tomorrow.
Of course check with your bank, credit union, and other places local to you. Create a notebook where you can keep track of who you talked to, the name of that company, the interest rate they are offering, the number of months you have to pay it back, and how much down payment they require. This notebook will be invaluable so you can keep track of where your best deals are.
Do not ignore getting your car loan funded through an online source. You can get free online car loan quotes easily these days. At the same time, do not assume that an online quote is automatically going to be your best deal. It MAY be, but you may find better deals elsewhere, so that is why you are shopping around.
It pays to check around. You did that with the car you are looking to purchase, and you should spend as much time and effort looking for your best financing option. In the end, you will feel just that much better that you have done your research, investigated the options, and gotten the best deal possible.