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Looking to buy a car -- advice?

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larussel03

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Hi all--

For my new job I am recieiving a 450/month car allowance, but I need to buy a car since FI and I share one. I was wondering if anyone has any tips on buying a car for me to

a) stay within my budget, including insurance with hopefully some gas money leftover (they pay for gas on a reimbursement basis)

and

b) to get the best deal I can?

I'm looking for something affordable, and hoepfully new or barely used. I've also never bought a car before and don't have any satisfied loans because the only real loan I have is my student loan (and a couple credit cards with low balances on them), so I know that may lead to a high interest rate?
 

scarleta

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I will give you onlly one advice: don''t go on your own car shopping, take your BF or take any man you can get hold of..Really..
 

fire&ice

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Do you need all wheel? I LOVE the new Ford Edge. It''s a crossover that is related to the new Mazda crossover. - very quiet, nice ride, not a bank breaker, all wheel w/ tons of room. I believe Ford is offering a .09% interest rate for 36 months & a 2.somthing% for more than that. Some other manufacturers are offering low interest money.

Research on Edmonds. The April edition of consumer report is on cars.

Next on my list is the minicooper.
The middle model quote from Costco was around 19k.

Also, I''ve heard great things about the newly designed CRV (Honda). It''s about 3k less than the Edge but it''s smaller than I need.
 

Skippy123

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SweetPea,
That is wonderful news; I am guessing you got the job!!! Congratulations!

I would get a toyota. I don''t have one but I travel a lot and so do my coworkers. The ones with Toyota''s love them and they are super reliable. Next car I get will be a Toyota or Acura for sure.
I have a Saab and I am always taking it to the shop; it is pretty and luxurious but NOT RELIABLE.
 

door knob solitaire

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My husband is a car guy (no let me make that THE car guy). He always recommends to those who aren''t mechanically knowledgeable...and specifically all women...to look at Hondas or Toyotas. You will get the lowest maintainence, reliabilty and great mileage.

DKS
 

larussel03

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Oct 22, 2005
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Thank you so much, scarleta, fire&ice and skippy, for the advice so far!

To answer some questions : FI is def going to come with me, I''m just looking to do some research prior to us going because I really need to get the car within the next 2 weeks, and he''s going away for the weekend from tonight until Monday.

I''m not sure if I need all-wheel, but I''d assume yes b/c I''m living in Michigan now?

And I DID get the job!! YAY! Much of the job is driving driving driving, so I need to make sure I have reliable wheels that will last a long time and fit in my buget...I''d like to have to get reimbursed for gas minimally, just b/c it''s kind of a pain, so hopefully with insurance and car I''ll have at least a week''s worth of gas money left to put on car allowance before having to get reimbursed.
 

larussel03

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Date: 4/11/2007 11:55:34 AM
Author: door knob solitaire
My husband is a car guy (no let me make that THE car guy). He always recommends to those who aren''t mechanically knowledgeable...and specifically all women...to look at Hondas or Toyotas. You will get the lowest maintainence, reliabilty and great mileage.

DKS
I DO like the Honda civics, so maybe I''ll add them to my list...I was thinking originally Ford Focus b/c they''re the cheapest I''ve looked at so far, but I don''t know much about how reliable they are besides a couple friends who have them and like them.

My FI says chevy all the way b/c he loves chevys. haha
 

jcrow

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i owned hondas and now a volkswagon. love them. hondas hold their value really really well.

anyway... for my first brand new car (vw passat) i totally researched the heck out of it. knew exactly which features i wanted and what it would cost me. that way, i was armed and ready to go in to the dealer and know if i was getting a deal.

just recently hubbie and i bought an 04 honda accord. we had a budget and looked mainly at civics and accords. we researched the heck out of those and again, new what was worth what. found one at a used car dealership and it was a steal of a deal.

anywho- that's my advice. research what you're looking to get. walk in there knowing what they are valued at. and don't be afraid to talk a dealer down. period. i've never paid the asking price on a car.


eta: hubbie's car is for lots-o-driving too. LOTS. that's a big reason we went with honda. they are very reliable cars. and you can get lots of miles out of them.
 

snuga

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I have to put a plug in for the Hondas too. I have a Honda now, and my last car was also a Honda. My last Honda lasted me to well over 160,000 miles!!! They are so reliable and if you are doing a lot of driving, you get great gas mileage. It sounds like you will be traveling a lot, so it is probably a good idea to invest in a car that will save you money on gas! (I am in a similar situation-gas mileage was #1 on my list of requirements for a new car!) I just bought a new one a few months back and looked at other cars as well. I liked Toyota too, but I wasn''t too impressed with Ford to tell you the truth. I didn''t feel like the ride was nearly as smooth as with Toyota or Honda. I would test drive a lot of different makes and models to see if you favor one over the other.
 

ellaila

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Congrats on the new job, Sweetpea!

As for a car, I totally recommend Subarus -- esp. for winter driving! I just got the Impreza wagon back in November, and I just love her to pieces! Not the most luxurious car in the world, but I feel super-safe in it, and I love how it drives. We were at the airport right after a major ice storm here, and my car drove across a parking lot that was literally like an ice rink (inches and inches of solid ice on the ground) without hesitation. So I am 100% sold on AWD!

I''ve had two VWs in the past, and I had major problems with both of them -- I think they are very hit or miss.

Hondas and Toyotas, I think, are always good though.

But my vote is Subaru
 

swingirl

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I grew up in Michigan so I know what the weather is like! I love my Subaru Forrester. It is all-wheel drive and gets me through the snow in the mountains just beautifully without being a huge SUV. Mine has heated seats!! I''ve had Subarus for years and they''re very relieble. I bought a Honda for my daughter because it''s also very relieble, low maintenance and great gas mileage. Hers has 140,000 miles and she drives from SF to LA about once a month.

Good luck with your purchase! Congrats on the new job.
 

jcrow

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re: loan - are you a part of a credit union? if so check rates with them. they are usually really low.
 

njc

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Date: 4/11/2007 12:23:09 PM
Author: jcrow

anywho- that''s my advice. research what you''re looking to get. walk in there knowing what they are valued at. and don''t be afraid to talk a dealer down. period. i''ve never paid the asking price on a car.
Ive never bought a car, but my parents just got a new one. This is what I got from and their experience. Research (like the others have said), know what a fair price is, and most importantly do not be afraid to walk away. Dad and the sales person went back and forth on prices and finally dad said he wanted to think about it and would let him know tomorrow. Sales person asked what he could do to sell them tonight, dad named his price. Sales person talked with management and voila. I dont know if this would work on a Honda, but its always worth a shot.

I have always heard calling and trying to negotiate on the phone way is good too.

GOOD LUCK!

F&I - I totally want a cross-over! I think they are awesome, but we cant really do a new car right now...
 

Gypsy

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40,198
I do our car shopping, not DF... but when we go in we go together, he plays good cop, I play bad cop. I've gotten great deals on all our cars.

That's a nice car allowance your getting... I would also suggest a Toyota. We just bought two last year and we've been very happy. I've had one Honda, one Nissan, One Saab, One VW and one Volvo, one Chevy. I would recommend the Toyota over the Honda and the Nissan. And I would only recommend the VW, Saab, or Volvo or the Chevy if you plan on keeping the car only until the warranty runs out, are willing to purchase and extended warranty, or have a good authorized service center with Loaners they give out.

If you don't like the body of the Toyota or want a two door I would get a Scion Tc (Made by Toyota)... there is one of those I really loved, but we didn't buy it because we wanted 4 doors. Toyota also has a great pre-owned certification program.


Good luck and congrats on the new job!

ETA: The reason I've gotten a good deal, and why I handle the car shopping is because I'm the researcher in the family, I research things to the smallest detail. I know what I want to pay, and what I want to get. And honestly, once I have that I call the dealerships ask them if they have what I want, and will give it to me for what I want to pay. I do that over the phone, so I don't waste time in person. I do lots of test drives and subscribe to consumer reports... and when buying a used car (the Nissan) I subscribed to a couple of different services. I'm also the negotiator. If you don't have bargaining skills or get too invested, you shouldn't take the lead. As the others have said, you have to be willing to walk away.

ETA agian: I had a long term rental with a Ford Focus... and I gotta tell you I was not impressed, the car had constant problems... they kept switching me over to different Ford Focus's... I had a total of three over the three months I was renting. All were underwelming. Also would not recommend Saturn... I dont' reacall which model it was but the guy at the rental agency told me that model (the one that competes with the civic and corrolla) really sucks.
 

littlelysser

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Have you considered leasing a car? You can get more car for your money that way.

I must say, I leased a Volkswagen Jetta and absolutely HATED it. That car had so many freaking problems. HATED it. For that reason alone, I would NEVER own another VW. Check out consumerreports.org before you buy anything though.

We are currently leasing a toyota Rav4. Great Car. Should fit in your budget if you lease. Small SUV, super safe, just awesome.
 

larussel03

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Oct 22, 2005
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Date: 4/11/2007 1:34:16 PM
Author: littlelysser
Have you considered leasing a car? You can get more car for your money that way.

I must say, I leased a Volkswagen Jetta and absolutely HATED it. That car had so many freaking problems. HATED it. For that reason alone, I would NEVER own another VW. Check out consumerreports.org before you buy anything though.

We are currently leasing a toyota Rav4. Great Car. Should fit in your budget if you lease. Small SUV, super safe, just awesome.
Unfortunately I cannot lease b/c I would be putting a LOT of miles on the car driving for work as a sales rep.
 

curiopotter

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Dec 27, 2006
Messages
658
I researched 4WD vehicles before I decided on what to buy. It came down to the Subaru Forrester, the Pontiac Vibe, or the Toyota Matrix. They were rated Consumer reports best vehicles, or best buys. I ended up on the Pontiac Vibe.

I never went to a dealer; I did all my work on the phone or email. It saved me more time, and was less of a hassle. I was very firm with them, on the price I wanted, and I didn't get taken advantage of. I ended up getting an unbelievable deal at a dealership 400 miles north of us. They drove the car down for me to look at and purchace.

The best advice I can give you is to be firm, and mean when you need to be. The moment they see a weakness, they'll take advantage of you. Call the "internet" department on some dealerships. My BF caught the internet sales department for his Honda Accord, and got a price so low, the other dealerships just couldn't beat it. Internet sales departments usually work around the quantity of vehicles they sell, and not the price they can sell them at.

Also look on consumer reports. If you don't have a membership, lemmie know the vehicles you're wanting to purchace, and I'll look them up for you. :)

PS. I wouldn't recomment Volkswagens, but DEFINITELY would recommend a Subaru Forrester. :) They're top knotch.
 

curiopotter

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OH-- make sure you get your financing straight before you go to the dealership. My best recommendation is to go to a trusted credit union, and get them to approve a loan for you for the estimated price of your vehicle. For example, mine was going to be no more than $13,000, so I was approved for that, but the final cost of my car was less.

The reason you do this is so you don''t have to hassle with the sales department. They''ll tell you something like, "I can get you this car for... 300 per month. But you never know what kind of deal that is! Because it could be a 7 year loan with a fixed rate of 9%! Get all your finances approved before you go to the dealership, or call them on the phone.
Credit unions give you GREAT rates, and are very happy to help you. Getting approved at the dealership could take HOURS to approve, and they won''t really get you great rates. ALSO you can get your bank or credit union to compete with the dealership. For example: My BF had a loan approved by my credit union, he bought his vehicle and Honda financing gave him a better rate. He decided to go with Honda to finance the car, and then our credit union called him up, and gave him an even better rate if he choose to switch back. He ended up with an awesome 3.25% rate!
 

sumbride

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Feb 17, 2006
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If you're into the web, which I'd guess you are by being here at PS, you can save yourself a lot of time and energy by getting online quotes once you decide what you want.

I didn't haggle at the dealer... I haggled online. I went through Edmunds.com and requested quotes on the specific model with the specific options and got quotes from a few dealers, then I emailed them the others' quotes until I got as low as I could go, wihch was quite a bit lower than I started. When I was satisifed, I went to the dealer with the printed quote and signed the papers. They didn't figure out I was a woman until I got there. I used my initials the whole time. I would do it again in a second.

Oh, and I agree with Curio on the financing thing. I went into the deal with 3% financing from a bank. The dealership offered me 1.9% with the same terms, so I switched to that, but that wasn't a part of the price haggling at all.
 

curiopotter

Brilliant_Rock
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Messages
658
LOL and another thing!

Since this will be the first car you get, I TOTALLY recommend going to a credit union. They work WITH you. I bought my first car a couple of years ago. I had never had a loan before, and I only had 2 credit cards. I was 22 years old. I was so scared I wouldn't be approved, or if i was approved that I wouldn't get a decent rate.

I ended up getting a 4.25% rating, on a used fully loaded 2003 Pontiac Vibe 4WD for $12,900. Used vehicles will give you higher interest rates than new ones, but you can save more money with a used vehicle. Credit Unions are there to help you, they'll work with your lack of credit unlike some banks. They also have insentives, like preferred pricing at certain dealerships and preferred pricing for insurance.

A used subaru forrester will probably run about 14-15k, and they're really hard to find used because most people don't give them up. I love my pontiac. The back seat is very comfortable, and ALL the seats fold completely flat (just like the forrester and matrix). I can fit 2 bikes in there.. I've fit an 8 foot clock inside my car; you'd be amazed at the amount of space they have. The matrix is the exact same car as the vibe. They both get excellent gas mileage for their class, and all three vehicles are highly rated by consumer reports. Also, 4WD vehicles will comsume more gas than 2WD, so keep that in mind.
 

Miranda

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Feb 18, 2006
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4,101
Ahhh the fun of buying a car. For a baseline price to see cars in your price range I''d check http://www.carsdirect.com/home cars direct. Know that you should usually negotiate DOWN from the cars direct pricing and that what you see as the dealer invoice isn''t really the dealer incoice...It''s actually much lower. If you pay MSRP for *most* models you are getting screwed...In a big way. Hybrids are the exception to this rule. Many car companies are losing $ right and left and they are in a position to move cars any way they can. They are in the business of volume sales. Go to Consumer reports to find a reliable car for your budget. This link has been useful for us in our car shopping over the years. http://www.carbuyingtips.com/ I would NEVER in a million years consider going into a dealer for any reason but to test drive cars, sign the papers, and pick up the car...Never to negotiate. We''ve always done that by fax. I don''t know if email would be as good of a tool. Research is your best friend....It''s a lot of work, but, you will save thousands in the end. IMO, saved money = diamonds/jewelry!!!!!!! Re the loan, I don''t know a lot about that. We owned a home and had fab credit by the time we bought our first car. I had a friend that was a first time car buyer with only one open credit account and she paid 18% interest for her car later finding out that it was not necessary. Try credit unions or see what the dealership has to offer. Interest is negotiable, too. I *think* the bottom line is that if your credit score is good and you don''t have too much outstanding debt you should be able to get a good loan. Good luck!!!
 

ellaila

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1,643
OH, and if you can, try to go on the last day of the month or better yet, the last day of the quarter! They will likely be desperate to meet their quota, and you will get a better deal. I *scored* on my car because I happened to wander in on the last day of their quarter!
 

larussel03

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Oct 22, 2005
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1,747
Thanks for all the advice everyone! All the links are extremely helpful!!

I have to admit, buying a car is a bit daunting to me, even though my monthly car allowance will pay for it, just b/c I have to pay for the down payments and everything, which will wipe out almost 1/2 of my savings, which totally stinks.

Ever since Fi and I moved and I went a period without a job, then a really poorly paying one, and with him being in grad school and me having to take over more financial responsibility since he is in graduate school, I find it SO HARD to save money.

I''ll go through a period where I can''t save anything (when wedding expenses come up like dress then musicians, etc) and then I''ll go through a period of saving really well. But then the unexpected will come up -- I hate when unexpected expenses come up every time I start to do really well saving. I know this is life, but I really need to buckle down I guess and work to save better. The only thing I''ve done a good job at saving for is my 401K, but that won''t help me till I retire
.

I just thought that by now, at 2.5 years out of school, I''d be doing alot better with the saving money thing. I had sort of a mini mental breakdown about it a few minutes ago, then realized I need to not panick and just DO something about it. The only real debt I have (besides a smallish balance on 2 credit cards that I really should just pay off) is my 40K student loan, but that can''t be helped, I just keep trying to pay a little extra every month on it.

I know that with this job I''ll be able to save alot more money, but I just get so discouraged at the numbers right now. I have to buckle down and really start working harder to change my spending habits and to save after this car thing...I was doing soooo well until the move to Michigan, which incurred alot of expenses...I''m glad to be learning this life lesson early though...

Wow, that was a "AHHHHHHHHHHHHH MONEY PANICK" vent...
 

FireGoddess

Super_Ideal_Rock
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Jan 25, 2005
Messages
12,145
Congrats on the job!

1. Research all you can on www.edmunds.com. It ROCKS. Gives great advice on negotiation tactics, etc, what you should really be paying for a car regardless of sticker price.

2. DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES LET THEM CHECK YOUR CREDIT UNTIL you have settled on a price and are ready to buy. Otherwise you may end up with a lot of dealers checking your credit, which in and of itself will lower your credit score. They will want to do it ASAP so that you feel obligated to buy there, since they've already done the credit check. Don't let them. They may try and say that they can't tell you what your APR would be until they know your score. Whatever. Don't let them check it till you've agreed on a price. You can always get a loan elsewhere, like a credit union if need be, but seriously - no credit checks till you've agreed on a price.

3. If possible, slightly used or certified preowned are the way to go. I bought a brand new car but then you end up eating the depreciation as soon as you drive it off the lot. So if you can, check out slightly used first.

4. Do be prepared to walk away. You can always go to another dealer and tell them to beat the price the other dealer quoted.
 

fire&ice

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It''s a good idea to go to a credit union or bank and find out what your interest rate, terms and pre-approval amount would be. But, it has been our experience that the car companies interest rates (if you have good credit) have always been less. Find out from each company''s web site what special rates they are offering and on what models. If I recall correctly, honda may be offering a 2% deal. I know Ford is offering a .9% deal. No bank or credit union is going to be able to subsidize your loan to that amount.

Regarding down payment, again do your research. Many car companies offer a rebate which can be used as a down payment - thus reducing your out of pocket expense. Aside from the negotiated price some dealerships will charge you destination & a filing fee. Keep that in mind when you negotiate. Some dealerships flat out won''t waive this - but will reduce the price of the car
It''s all a game and ridiculous. KEEP FOCUSED ON THE FINAL PRICE with knowing what the sales tax will be (most states have a reduced sales tax for automobiles).

Also, as mentioned, never get caught up in the monthly "payment". Focus on the COST of the car. I can remember the first car we bought. I had the final price of the car & went to our bank to get a loan. It was X amount. Our banker said that the car companies often give a better rate. We went into the financing "guy" (what a waste of time - more on that later). He quoted an interest rate lower than our bank. The payment amount per month was significantly higher. I asked why. To his disgust, he said "of course you want to buy the extended warranty AND undercoating".
Without even asking us, he put that in the payment schedule.
This was in the early 1980''s - not sure if they can use that tactic still.

And, on the business end - when you see the finance/business guy - prior to going in to sign that papers tell them up front that you just want to sign the papers (make sure you read them!) and do not want ANY sales talk about warranty, undercoating, life insurance, blah blah blah!

Costco has a "research car price" section. It''s a good starting negotiation price. I''m a bit touchy feely - but the recommendations about doing the nego on line sounds - well - sound.


I would think you would want an AWD car in Michigan. The CRV Honda has gotten good reviews as the Rav4 Toyota. For the price, you can''t be the Pontiac Vibe. It''s small - but a very good value. In fact, they were talking about THAT car on the morning show this week!

Since you are going to put high mileage on the car, resale doesn''t seem to be an issue. Most cars, unless they are lemons, should get well into the 100k miles. All our dopey Ford Tauruses have. Things may have changed; but, the reason I like trad. Am cars is the repairs and parts are significantly less expensive. We couldn''t take our Volvo to the shop with out walking out with an over $500.00 bill.

Good luck. We just went through this exercise less than a year ago w/ hubby. I''m in the process right now. It''s kind of a pain; but, after being overwhelmed, your options become pretty clear.


Oh and one other thing, interest rates for used cars are usually 1-2% higher than new, unless there is some sort of special financing.
 

Kit

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Sep 7, 2005
Messages
501
I echo what everyone else here said. Buy using the internet--most dealerships have an internet sales department that is based on volume, pit them against each other.

Also, I have a 2004 Honda CRV and I Loooooove it! Never had a single problem with it. Sooo reliable. Also because they have the brand new CRVs out for the 2006 model year, they are probably trying to dump off their inventory of the 2005 models at a discount...check into those. You can''t go wrong with a Honda.

Maybe try and pull your credit score at some point so you know what range you''re going to be in for financing? Just a thought.

Good luck!!
 

Miranda

Ideal_Rock
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Feb 18, 2006
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4,101
Date: 4/11/2007 7:41:08 PM
Author: Kit
I echo what everyone else here said. Buy using the internet--most dealerships have an internet sales department that is based on volume, pit them against each other.

Also, I have a 2004 Honda CRV and I Loooooove it! Never had a single problem with it. Sooo reliable. Also because they have the brand new CRVs out for the 2006 model year, they are probably trying to dump off their inventory of the 2005 models at a discount...check into those. You can''t go wrong with a Honda.

Maybe try and pull your credit score at some point so you know what range you''re going to be in for financing? Just a thought.

Good luck!!
That''s a very good thought!
 

qtiekiki

Ideal_Rock
Joined
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Messages
3,880
Date: 4/11/2007 6:09:04 PM
Author: fire&ice
It''s a good idea to go to a credit union or bank and find out what your interest rate, terms and pre-approval amount would be. But, it has been our experience that the car companies interest rates (if you have good credit) have always been less. Find out from each company''s web site what special rates they are offering and on what models. If I recall correctly, honda may be offering a 2% deal. I know Ford is offering a .9% deal. No bank or credit union is going to be able to subsidize your loan to that amount.
To qualify for those Honda special rate, you have to be in the top tier of the credit score.

Typically car companies do offer the best interest rates, but again it will depend on your credit score. When I got my first car, I was still in college with no prior loans (well my 1K student loan that I took out, but not paying for yet) and one credit card. Honda could not offer me the lowest interest rate, so they set me up with a credit union. It was almost a 1% difference. I am sure your credit is better than mine back then and Honda financial services might be different now, but it gives you an idea of what the difference could be.

With that said, I think you will be looking at interest rate higher than 5.5% (just my guess based on the interest rate we were quoted last year and the fact that interest rate didn''t come down). We bought me car in March last year. One sales guy told us that they (Honda financial services) were offering 4.9% for people with top credit score when we asked him if there''s any special financing. So DH went to his credit union and asked them what they can offer. They said 5.5%, so DH said oh but the dealership is offering 4.9%. Then the lady went to talk to her supervisor and after some time, she came back and said ok we''ll pre-approve you for 4.9%. Then we went to another dealership, and we asked a sales there about the financing again and were told that they were not offering 4.9% and there''s no way they were. So when finally sat down with the finance guy at Honda, he quoted us a 5.25% interest rate (DH has very good credit). We told him that we are going with our credit union, and he asked what rate we got. When we told him 4.9%, he immediately said oh there''s no way I can beat that and moved on to selling warranty and stuffs. I think we just luck out with that interest rate. Credit unions are in generally very willing to work with their customers, so it doesn''t hard to try.
 
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