NEW YORK (WABC) -- As car buying revs back to life, up 110% over last April, 7 On Your Side has some simple steps that can save you some bucks before you drive away from the dealership.
Almost 9 in 10 new car buyers finance (85%). More than half of used car buyers borrow (54%). And the average auto loan is at an all-time high, more than $32,000.
But there's good news -- you can cut the price of the car by hundreds or even thousands of dollars.
First step - know your credit score. You can print it out or credit card companies have it right on your mobile app.
If your score is good, above 670, you should have solid financing options. But if it's very good or above, mid 700's and up, you can really lower your interest rate or APR.
Know what you can afford going in. That means figuring and estimating your loan amount -- online calculators can help. Estimate auto insurance, even maintenance and gas.
Next, shop around. Don't simply go through the dealership's financing department. There's no guarantee they'll get you the best deal possible.
Before you buy, get pre-approved for a loan by going directly to lenders or even your credit union.
And after you get pre-approved, negotiate. You can even pit one lender against another but remember the higher your credit score, the more bargaining power you'll have.
Some more big takeaways and other ways to lower your loan payments -- make a larger down payment. The less you borrow, the less you'll pay in interest.
Reduce the sales price. That means choosing a cheaper car with less options and negotiating a better deal.
Or get a co-signer who has better credit than you. That will give you more bargaining power to reduce the interest rate.
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