When I realized my time with my beloved 2001 Honda Civic was nearly over, I started to think about buying or leasing a car. I walked into a dealership knowing I wasn't going to buy anything that day, but wanting to test drive a specific car and practice my negotiating skills.
Right now, it's more important than ever to understand that a sales person at a car dealership will almost always tell you you can afford a car, and likely present you with loads of appealing financing options.
According to Bloomberg, deep subprime auto loans are surging, which means that lots of folks who historically have had trouble paying off their debts are being granted access to attractive financing opportunities. Dealers are offering riskier loans, and default rates are increasing. Some have even likened the situation to the subprime mortgage crisis.
If you want to buy a car, don't want until you show up at the dealership to find out if you can actually afford to buy one. After I crunched some numbers and came up with a car budget that felt reasonable, I did some research and decided to follow one key rule: Never accept the first offer, whether it's the sticker price or whatever deal the salesman puts before you.