What You Need to Know

Before you Visit the Dealership:

  • BASED ON YOUR NEEDS and budget, determine a realistic price range for the vehicle you are considering purchasing.
  • KNOW THE DIFFERENCE between buying and leasing a vehicle.
  • KNOW YOUR CREDIT RECORD and that it may affect the finance rate you are able to secure.
  • COMPARE ANNUAL PERCENTAGE RATES (APRs) AND OTHER FINANCING TERMS from multiple sources such as banks, finance companies and credit unions. 

When Shopping at the Dealership:

  • STAY WITHIN THE PRICE RANGE that you can afford.
  • NEGOTIATE your finance arrangements and terms.
  • UNDERSTAND THE VALUE AND PRICE of voluntary protection products such as extended service contracts, credit insurance, or guaranteed auto protection. If you don't want these products, don't sign for them.
  • READ THE CONTRACT carefully before you sign.

After Completing the Auto Purchase or Lease:

  • MAKE YOUR PAYMENTS ON TIME. Late or missed payments incur late fees and appear on your credit report, which can impact your access to credit in the future.
  • BE AWARE that if you financed the vehicle, the dealership (or a bank, finance company or credit union that purchases the contract from the dealership) holds a lien on the title title - and in some cases the actual title - unless you pay the contract in full.
  • THE DEALERSHIP MAY RETAIN your finance contract, but usually sells it to a third party, such as a bank, finance company or credit union, at a wholesale rate (often called the "buy rate"). The bank, the finance company or credit union that buys your contract will service the account and collect payments. 

If you Encounter Financial Difficulty:

  • TALK TO YOUR CREDITORS if you experience difficulty making your monthly payments. Explain your situation and reason your payment will be late. Work out a payment schedule with your creditors and, if necessary, seek the services of a reputable non-profit credit counseling agency.
  • KNOW YOUR OBLIGATIONS. If you default, a creditor may take the vehicle in full satisfaction of the credit agreement or may sell the vehicle and apply the proceeds from the sale to the outstanding balance of the credit agreement.
  • BE AWARE that repossession can occur if you fail to make timely payments. It does not relieve you of your obligation to pay for the vehicle. The law in some states allows the creditor to repossess the vehicle without going to court.

Download the What You Need To Know Document

View some helpful videos below, courtesy of Ford Credit.


Recognizing the need for consumer education, automotive industry leaders have formed AWARE (Americans Well-informed on Automobile Retailing Economics), a collaborative industry effort to provide consumers with information, tools, and other resources to better understand the auto financing system.