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Helping your customers make good used car buying decisions


According to Experian Automotive, more than 35.5 million used cars were registered in 2009 — more than three times the number of new cars. Clearly, buying a pre-owned vehicle can get your customers into a great ride for a lot less money. However, it is essential that you help them make well-informed buying decisions. Here are six simple suggestions you can share to help your customers have a positive experience when they come to you for a pre-owned car loan.

Customers should:

  1. Obtain a copy of their credit report and credit score several months before they plan to buy a vehicle. Doing so will enable them to identify any credit problems that could make it difficult for you to approve their loan application.
  2. Get preapproved if they need a loan. By doing so, they will know how much they can afford, and they will be able to more quickly and confidently obtain financing when they find the right vehicle.
  3. Have the vehicle checked by a good mechanic. A thorough examination by a qualified mechanic will help ensure there aren’t any hidden problems.
  4. Ask the owner for the vehicle’s maintenance records so they can document that the oil was changed regularly and that required maintenance was performed.
  5. Carefully research the sales value of the car to ensure they are paying a fair price. Online resources and their bank or credit union can help them evaluate how much the car is worth.
  6. Be aware of problems that could be instant deal breakers, such as:
  • Is the title clean, or has the car been salvaged, rebuilt, or damaged in an accident or a fire?
  • Was it reported as a lemon, was it sold through a salvage auction, or has it had frame or water damage?
  • Is the odometer reading accurate? Is the odometer broken or has it been rolled back? Does the number of miles exceed limits for resale value? Is the mileage suspect?
  • Has the car been reported as stolen?
  • Was it used in a business fleet, as a police vehicle or as a taxi?

So your customers can answer these and other questions, advise them to obtain an Experian AutoCheck® vehicle history report. Your institution should do so as well as part of the loan underwriting process. The report provides the information you and your customers need to help make a purchasing decision with greater confidence while avoiding potential costly problems down the road.

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