Get a grip on the financing process as we help you shop for a loan and spell out many key questions you should ask before signing on the dotted line.

Financing your car needs as much research and homework as choosing the car. Here you’ll learn the questions to ask about a loan, how to find the best auto-loan rate, how to determine your down payment, and what rebate or loan options may apply to you. We’ve also got calculators throughout the chapter to help make the homework a little easier.

What can you expect to learn from this chapter:

  • Where to get the money

    You can borrow money from a bank, credit union, car dealer or your home equity. In any case, the length of the loan and the interest rate are key.

  • Ask these 9 questions

    Write them down before you talk to a lender and be sure you understand every answer before you agree to the terms.

  • Loan options and rebates

    Your options are to finance through a bank or credit union or the dealer — who’s just a middleman for another lender. We’ll show you how to weight your options.

  • How to find the best rate

    Start with Bankrate’s daily update of loan rates. Then comparison shop among online lenders. Finally, get a minimum of three quotes.

  • The cost of 0 percent financing

    High monthly payments over a short term might make no-interest financing too expensive for you to handle.

  • Sizing up your down payment

    To avoid being “upside down” on your loan, you may need to make a large downpayment. Our calculator can help you determine your down payment.