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When you apply for an auto loan at a dealership the dealer acts as a loan broker to try to find you the best interest rate possible. This means that the dealer will send your financial information out to several lenders in an attempt to get you financing. When the dealer finds more than one lender that is willing to finance a loan for you, they should - in theory – let you know about the very lowest rate you are approved for. The benefit to using the dealer is that they are able to check with several lenders at once, but the downside to this is that you don't truly know what the offers are. The dealer might pick one loan over another because of the relationship with the lender instead of the lower interest rate. In other cases, the dealer might get you approved for a certain interest rate but then tack on one or two percentage points as profit, leaving you with the higher interest rate. The best way to avoid these problems is to secure financing before going to the dealership. If the dealer can then get you a lower interest rate then go ahead and take it…but don't make the dealer your sole source for financing without checking out other lenders first.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|