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Before You Go to the Car Dealership

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Car shopping can be a stressful experience, but covering a few basics before you leave home can help things go smoothly. The first step is to research used cars online. Then you will want to bring paperwork that details your financial situation and driving history and if you're trading in a car, you need to bring all of the car's information as well. The more documentation you bring, the likelier it is you'll get a great deal from the car dealership you choose, even if you don't end up needing all of the paperwork you brought.

What you need for financing
If you'll be trying to get financing, car dealerships like to know everything they can before they offer you any terms. Get a copy of your driving record and any related issues and it's a good idea to bring proof of insurance for your current vehicle and, of course, your driver's license. The most important information you will need is related to your credit score, debts, income, and your ability to repay.

Auto dealers need plenty of assurance that you are dependable, particularly if you're going for a short-term loan at a good interest rate. Receipts, bank statements, pay stubs, car loan history and other financial data can help you get the best rate possible. It's a good idea to find out your credit score and look over your credit report before you go to the car dealership. That way you won't be surprised if they find anything negative, and you can be prepared to offer explanations and documentation that can help your situation.

What you need for trade-ins
Trade-in value can be a point of disagreement, particularly if you're not in possession of your car's full maintenance history. Most experts recommend bringing everything you can about your used car, including the title, if you have it, information about your car loan, even if it is paid in full, maintenance and service history, any record of damages, replacements and even owner customizations.

Auto dealers want to know exactly what they're getting so they can assign an accurate value to your vehicle since they plan to resell it. It should go without saying that you need to empty the car of all personal effects and detail it inside and out to make the best impression. If there are repairs needed, it's a good idea to take care of all the problems in advance because the car dealer's mechanic will certainly find them and will probably deduct more from their offer than it would cost you to do the repairs yourself.

Find out the average blue book value for your trade-in before you go to the dealership and understand that trade-in value is usually lower than if you sold the car privately. If your car doesn't have any significant trade-in value, consider other options for what you should do with your old car.

Work with a car dealership that tells you everything you need ahead of time and you shouldn't have to deal with any surprises on the day of purchase. With the right paperwork and a sound history of record keeping, you should expect negotiations to go smoothly.

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