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The best policy when buying a new car is to know what rates are available from your bank or credit union before you negotiate with the car dealer. If his rates are not competitive, obtain your own financing or go to another dealer who might have better rates.

Dealers sell financing just as they sell cars, and often they make more money on financing than from the sale of the car itself! Finance rates are negotiable so don't be afraid to ask for a better interest rate. A few interest points can save you hundreds of dollars over the life of the loan.

Make sure all finance rates are quoted at annual percentage rate or APR, and not the confusing add on rate which will appear much lower. Never sign a contract that has blank spaces or is incomplete in any way.

Write down the finance rate that the salesman or finance manager quotes you and make sure it is the same rate on the final contract.

Always demand a copy of the contract and any other documents you sign on the day you sign them.

Make sure you know the exact dollar cost of the finance charges, the length of the loan, and the exact monthly payment including tax, license, and documentation fees.

And finally, double check all numbers and figures for accuracy and make sure any and all verbal promises are included in the contract.

Be sure to read our leasing and a comparison of leasing vs. buying if you are interested in leasing your vehicle instead of purchasing it.