Timing is everything if you’re buying a car

It’s a good time to be in the market for a new car.

That may have something to do with the variety of cars available at prices from about $11,000 up, but it certainly has a lot to do with the availability of auto loans at record-low interest rates.

Lenders “are charging U.S. consumers the lowest interest rates on new-car loans since the Federal Reserve began surveying them in 1971,” more than 40 years ago, according to an article by Craig Trudell and Keith Naughton this month in Bloomberg news.

The rates – as low as 0 percent – contributed to a 9.5 percent surge in September light-vehicle sales, maintaining the fastest pace since the “cash for clunkers” program, the article reported.

“It’s absolutely breathtaking … it’s insane,” an economist at Dun & Bradstreet said in the article.

And buyers with good credit scores apparently are not the only ones benefitting. Those with so-called subprime scores are catching a break as well. For example, “sales to B-tier buyers, those with credit scores of 650 to 679, have risen 26 percent this year, compared with a 7 percent rise in sales to those with A-plus credit, scores from 790 to 999,” said Thomas King of J.D. Power & Associates.

“Some consumers will spend days making sure they get the lowest price on a vehicle, yet they won’t bother to shop for the best auto loan,” says ConsumerReports.org in an article “How to get the best car loan.” “If you don’t have financing in place when you visit the dealership to buy, you’re leaving yourself vulnerable to whatever terms the dealer offers, which may have a much higher interest rate.”

And FoxBusiness.com offered “Three Tips to Snag a Car Loan When You Have So-So Credit” in a September article by Tara Baukus Mello of Bankrate.com:

  • Make sure the information on your credit report is correct, and fix errors before applying.
  • Tune up your credit if possible. Timeliness of your payments makes a big difference.
  • Start by checking interest rates with your bank and local credit unions.

If the adage “timing is everything,” this is the best timing in years to shop for a new car.

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