The following post originally appeared on our RoadLoans blog, The Open Road.
Shopping for a vehicle – new or used car, pickup or SUV – should begin with a careful search for financing (unless you’re paying with cash). Then, when you find and select a vehicle you can live with, you’re better prepared to make the purchase on your terms.
It’s easier said than done, of course. But help is available, especially online, if you know where to look.
Take, for example, TopTenReviews website, which provides details of the major categories comprising more than two-dozen specific considerations that could affect your decision.
“When you’re considering an automobile loan, it’s important to look very closely at the different companies available to help you,” according to TopTen’s auto loan service review. “In fact, it’s just as important to choose the company that’s right for you as it is to choose the loan that’s right for your financial and personal circumstances. Knowing what to look for in an auto finance company can help you choose the best one.”
The top five factors to evaluate when considering auto finance companies are:
Features They Provide. Look for information about company practices, interest rates, tools such as payment calculators and the option to make payments online, advised TopTen. For one example of such a web site, visit RoadLoans.com, which provides a wide array of features and tools.
Customer Service and Support. This is important with products that can be as complicated as auto financing, especially online. “If there is no frequently asked questions section (FAQ), no phone numbers posted, and you’re finding it difficult to get in touch with a representative of the company, you should give this some very serious consideration,” according to TopTen.
Costs and Fees. Be aware that “most auto finance companies do not charge application fees … Check on this before applying, and inquire whether there are any hidden fees you’ll be expected to pay.”
Types of Loans. Many automobile finance companies offer a wide range of options for their customers. RoadLoans, for example, offers regular auto loans and refinancing, as well as subprime, bad-credit and poor-credit loans and others. “If you know what kind of loan you are most likely going to need, check the company you’re considering to see if that type of loan is offered,” TopTen advises.
Limitations and Restrictions. The “apply now” button likely will be displayed prominently on the finance company’s website, “their limitations and restrictions probably will not be,” says TopTen. Seek these out and compare between companies and with the auto financing terms you are likely to need.
“By researching the process …, the types of loans that are available, what kind of loan would best suit you and what rates to expect – you can make your decision simpler and ensure that you’re well-informed,” according to the auto loan service review. “This can prevent you from having hassles and headaches down the road by discovering that you’ve made the wrong choice.”