4 Things You Ought to Do Before a Dealer Runs Your Credit

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Are you in the market for a new or used car, but don’t know if your credit is good enough to get the keys? Don’t worry, getting a car loan is becoming somewhat easier these days after years in which auto lending went from crazy easy to crazy hard. It’s still however, very beneficial to know your credit score and how much of a loan you may qualify for before making the trip to your local dealership. Doing so will arm you with a ton of useful information and help you better understand how much you can spend, what type of interest rate you may qualify for and how much you may need to put down at time of purchase.

To help you better understand this essential part in the car-buying process, we put together four things you ought to do before your salesperson runs your credit score.

4 Things You Ought to Do

  1. Know your credit score before you shop: Everyone is entitled to a free credit report each year, which you can get from each of the major credit bureaus at annualcreditreport.com. However, that’s only half of the equation as you should also check your credit score, which can be purchased at myFICO.com. “Make sure you know your credit score and [that] it’s very recent so they can’t say, ‘Oh, it used to be good, but now you have a ding and this is the best we can do,'” says Rosemary Shahan, president of Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety (CARS).
  2. Check the average interest rates for your score: Checking the average interest rates for someone with your credit score can give you valuable information on what to expect when you start shopping for your next vehicle. MyFICO.com has a great auto loan chart which can show you what interest rate you can expect; it also breaks it down into 36, 48, or 60-month payments to give you an even better idea.
  3. If you have a low credit score, save up: Having a low credit score can oftentimes cause you to have a higher interest rate than someone with a high credit score. Putting a down payment or applying a trade-in will help you in securing that new car and could very well get you the best possible deal. It’s a good idea to have at least 20% of the purchase price as a down payment on a new car and 11% on a used car, recommends Ronald Montoya, consumer advice editor at Edmunds.com. “Making a high down payment is a good idea in general, but is even more important if you have poor credit,” he says.
  4. Shop for loans before going to the dealer: It is always a good idea to go to your local credit union or bank to see how much money you may qualify for before you head off to the dealership. Doing so will give you valuable information you can then use to compare to what the dealership is able to offer you. According to cars.com, “After you’ve negotiated the car’s purchase price, the only way to know if the deal you’re presented with is a good one is for you to have shopped around beforehand. You may not be able to shop rates from the captive lenders before actually buying a car, but you can find out what kind of rates are available at banks and credit unions.”


By becoming a more proactive and informed car buyer, you greatly increase your chances of getting that next vehicle and doing so at the best possible price. You will be able to see through whatever tricks a dealership may or may not use to secure your purchase and as a former Sales & Leasing Consultant I can say it makes for a much smoother car-buying experience.

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If you have any questions or concerns feel free to contact our Finance Director, Zack Funkhouser (855) 367-9095 toll-free or email zackfunkhouser@lebanon-ford.com.

About Charlie Cryder

Charlie is a Digital Marketer and Web Designer who lives in Cincinnati, Ohio. He's a former car salesman and current employee at Lebanon Ford where he writes for our Ford-Life blog. Charlie is also a relative of the Owner, Marketing and Communications Director and MyTech Team manager. You can find Charlie on Facebook, Twitter (@charliecryder), LinkedIn and at charliecryder.com.