The first rule of financing a car loan: Don't do it.
A quick spin with Bankrate's interest-rate calculator will show you the thousands of dollars you'll pay in interest.
Steve Economides, co-author of "America's Cheapest Family Gets You Right on the Money," says his family always buys used cars and always pays cash.
"What would you rather have: A shiny new car sitting in the driveway with big monthly payments hanging over your head or being able to sleep at night?" Economides says.
Practice the frugal car buyer's mantra: patience. Start to save money for your next car before you need one.
If you need to finance, know your credit score, research interest rates online and shop around at banks and credit unions for a low-interest car loan before stepping into a dealer showroom. If you go in as a cash buyer or with your own car loan already approved, you can avoid the dealer's finance office. Doing so can shave several thousand dollars off the cost of your car.