Auto Bits: What you should know about credit before you go car shopping

Staff Writer
Mount Shasta Herald

Tip of the Week

Whether you've decided you've gone through your last winter without four-wheel drive or you're rewarding yourself for making it through the recession with your financial health intact, summer is a great time to begin shopping for a new car. And experts predict that car dealers, still stinging from some of the worst sales years in motoring history, will welcome summer car buyers with great deals.

But will you be in a position to take advantage of the possibilities? What good does zero percent financing, payment-free grace periods or value-added incentives do for you if you don't have the good credit you need to secure financing? It may be an auto-buyer's market, but many lenders are still putting the brakes on financing for those with less-than-great credit scores.

To get the car you want at an interest rate you can afford, it pays to be proactive. Before you set foot on a dealer's lot or peruse the auto section of the newspaper, take these steps to ensure you're in a position of power when it comes time to negotiate your auto loan.

- Step one: Secure your credit

- Step two: Secure your financing

Once you're confident of your credit worthiness, and you've been pre-approved for an auto loan, you'll be better positioned to take advantage of the many deals available to summer auto buyers.

- ARA

The List

Auto sales were good in May in the United States. Here are how the industry giants fared domestically:

- Chrysler: 33 percent gain

- Ford: 21.9 percent gain

- GM: 16.6 percent gain

- Toyota: 6.7 percent gain

Did You Know

Ford Motor Co. plans to drop the Mercury brand and will stop producing Mercurys in the fourth quarter.

Car Q&A

Q: I own a 1999 Buick Century. The indicator that shows gear position does not light up, and at night I cannot see what gear I am in. Is this an expensive repair and worth getting fixed?

A: You will have to get an estimate from your local technician. In most cases we remove the dash cluster and send it out to the repair shop and they repair the circuit board. Another choice is to replace the dash cluster with a used cluster from a salvage yard. The cost of repair will vary from $150 to $350.

- Junior Damato, Talking Cars columnist

GateHouse News Service