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Buying a car is exciting, but it can also be intimidating to walk into a dealership, choose from the many car options and talk about price with a salesperson. To help ensure you’re fully prepared for a more pleasant buying experience and finding the best deal, American Consumer Credit Counseling, a national nonprofit, offers the following advice for what you need to know before purchasing a car:

Finances. You should have a set budget before heading into a dealership. You need to know what kind of deposit you can make, as well as what monthly payments you can afford.

Credit Score. You should know your credit score before applying for a loan. Your score will determine the loan you qualify for and will also allow you to negotiate better deals.

Research. You need to do your research before going to a dealership. Looking at online reviews about dealerships can help you avoid a bad experience. It’s also essential to familiarize yourself with different dealership policies and warranty packages.

Compare Prices. It’s helpful to compare prices before making a purchase. You should gather information not only from different dealerships, but also from online services to help you find the best possible price.

New or Used? While a used car may be more affordable up front, it’s important to note that it may cost a you more in the long run due to maintenance and repair fees. To help avoid these fees, make sure to ask for any repair records for used cars.

Insurance. Sometimes getting a different car can affect your insurance rates. Make sure to check in with your insurance company before buying a car to avoid surprise fee increases.

Timing. Because car dealers work on a month-to-month basis, they’re likely willing to negotiate better deals at the end of the month. Additionally, if you’re not looking for the latest model, buying a car at the end of a model year could help you find a vehicle at a lower price.

By considering these factors, you’ll be better prepared for the car-buying experience. Happy shopping!