Whether it’s your first car or your 15th, the process of buying a car is pretty much the same every time. The biggest factor that could change this process, however, is your credit. At 1stCertified Collision Center, we know from personal experience that lenders like to see buyers with solid credit backgrounds, and a history of paying off car loans on time and in full. This is the same anywhere in the USA– credit is indeed king! Don’t worry though if your credit is just okay, or if you haven’t begun establishing credit yet. This doesn’t mean that you won’t be eligible for financing– and the trick to buying a car is getting a good financing deal.
Here are a handful of helpful tips that can help you purchase your car, even if it is your first time.

Always put 20% or more down: Car dealers are always advertising attractive “zero down deals”. As a first-time car buyer, you probably won’t qualify for those deals. However, if you put more money down at the beginning of the sale, you may qualify for more financing– this way, the finance company will be assuming less risk with the transaction. If you end up having to sell your car or if the vehicle is totaled and needs to be completely replaced, a small down payment may mean that you’ll owe more money on your car than it’s worth. Always put down as much as you can.
Be a comparison shopper: Even if you’re a first-time buyer, there are many finance companies out there that will still want your business. You can actually leverage this by shopping around and having several companies compete for your loan. Once you have a handful or price quotes, you have the opportunity to whittle down the choices to only the best rate, and even use the competition to negotiate.

Get a co-signer, if possible: A co-signer is someone who will take the responsibility for paying your loan if you drop the ball. This also means that if you fail to keep up with your payments, their credit will also be on the line. Traditionally, a cosigner can be a parent or close relative. Co-signers can be a wonderful way for new car buyers to get financed since they can piggyback on the good credit of their co-signer. However, if you do use a cosigner, your credit won’t be as positively affected.

“ABL”– “Always Be Looking” for special deals: Finance companies are always looking around for new ways to attract business, so while you’re searching, you’re likely to find a wide range of special deals. While you might not meet the criteria for deals reserved for buyers with exemplary credit, you might be offered a deal designed specifically for new or first-time car buyers. Be careful, however, because genuine lenders are not in the business of giving away free money to just anyone. If you ever accept a financing deal on the front end, make certain that the terms of your loan don’t take all that money back at the conclusion of the agreement.

Sources: AAA, Consumer Report and Yahoo