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Buying your first new car can be an exhilarating experience. But few people save enough to pay for a new car outright, and many must take advantage of bank car loans and/or the many financing options dealerships offer. If you’ve never filled out an auto loan application before, here are some helpful bits of car loan advice to help smooth the way.

  • If you’d like to be able to walk into dealership and walk out with the keys to a brand new car, make sure to bring all your financial information with you. That includes pay stubs, utility bills, any student loan info, and any child support or alimony payments you make. Also be sure to bring the numbers of your checking account and any savings accounts you may have, to speed up the credit check.
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  • As with student loans, an application for bank loans for a new car may include an option for a “fixed” APR or a “variable” APR. A fixed rate will make your payment amounts easier to remember, since they’ll never change, but you might end up paying more than you need to if the market drops, relatively speaking. A variable rate will ride the market trends, but you then run the risk of paying more if the market rate goes higher than what the fixed rate would have been.
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  • Somewhere during the process, you will likely be asked if you’d like to finance to purchase or if you’d like to lease the vehicle. Car loan advice websites are split nearly down the middle as far as which is the better option. Given that you will always need to spend money on your car during your life, whether through lease payments, finance payments, or maintenance and repair even after you’ve made the final payment, some argue that leasing a car will at least always have you driving a newer, more reliable vehicle. But the other side argues that financing to own is a worthwhile gamble that, if it pays off, will save you a lot of money over time. If it pays off.

As you investigate your options, you will receive car loan advice from all angles—family, friends, random Internet strangers, television, etc. Be sure to read everything carefully, and don’t be afraid to walk away if you are pressured into signing something you don’t fully understand.

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