Used auto loans basics: know the steps

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Seeking used auto loans? Know the steps

Shopping for used auto loans is a key step in securing the best financing deal, but taking additional steps to examine a car’s history and your own spending power are equally crucial. Here are three pieces of the used auto loans process you cannot ignore.

Know the market

You can estimate the average rates for used auto loans in your area, but you can also estimate the actual value of the car you are hoping to take home. With resources such as and Kelley Blue Book online, your research efforts can uncover the going value of a used car based on mileage, its current condition and any add-on features. This can help ensure that you get a fair price.

Be a private investigator

If you are buying from a private owner, ask the right questions. From reviewing the vehicle’s service records to finding out why the owner wants to sell it, your questions can help you make an educated decision on the condition of the car.

Consumers buying a used model at a dealer should note the car’s vehicle identification number, or VIN. You can use this 17-digit number to track down the vehicle’s official history report through an online service such as Carfax.

Conduct a self-assessment

Buying a used car is based on more than the car’s cost; you need to understand your own budget, too. Use a car loan calculator to estimate your monthly loan payments, and consider factors other than the purchase price, such as the cost of insurance, gas and potential repairs, to determine whether you can afford a particular make and model.

With a well-informed buying process, you can harness your buying power while searching used auto loans to drive home a good deal.

Written by
David McMillin
Contributing writer
David McMillin writes about credit cards, mortgages, banking, taxes and travel. David's goal is to help readers figure out how to save more and stress less.