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Your Car-Shopping Checklist

Purchasing or leasing your next vehicle is a big decision. When it comes to considering your auto financing options, there’s no such thing as overpreparation. Use this checklist to make sure you don’t forget anything.

  1. Get your credit in order. Knowing your credit score, and working on ways to improve it, may be the most time-consuming item on the list, so let's begin there.
  2. Calculate your vehicle budget. As you get ready to lease or buy a new car, truck or SUV, don’t forget to estimate the total cost of vehicle ownership by considering the following:
    • Down payment (if applicable).
    • Monthly payment.
    • Insurance.
    • Registration fees.
    • Gas or electric charging, tolls and parking.
    • Regular maintenance.
  3. Weigh your financing options. Like choosing a vehicle that fits your lifestyle, you can select an auto financing option that best suits your budget. With internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles and electric vehicles (EV), you can choose between leasing, buying or The RightChoice by GM Financial, a balloon financing option created for EVs.
    You might consider leasing if you—
    • Drive a predictable number of miles.
    • Enjoy driving the latest model every few years.
    • Prefer a lower monthly payment (typically).
    You might consider buying if you—
    • Don’t want to worry about mileage limits.
    • Aren’t concerned about fixing every scratch or dent.
    • Like the idea of owning your vehicle free and clear after you fulfill your finance contract.
    Want more information? Review this step-by-step guide to getting auto financing.
  4. Apply for auto financing. No matter what financing option you go with, save time by applying to prequalify. It’s quick, easy and won’t affect your credit score.
  5. Do your research. Think about what kind of vehicle will serve you now and three to five years down the road.
    • Explore limited-time offers from GM when you’re ready to see local vehicle options.
    • Enter your ZIP code to get started.
    • Select the brand and model that fit your lifestyle.
  6. Choose your features. Add-ons and upgrades allow you to personalize your vehicle.
    • Review trim levels and add-ons.
    • Prioritize desired features.
    • Research key upgrades online.
  7. Visit the dealership. Now that you know what you want and how you’ll pay for it, it’s time to reach out to your preferred dealership.
    • Gather your driver’s license and proof of insurance.
    • Prepare for the test-drive by asking yourself these five questions.
    • Talk to your preferred dealership about next steps.
  8. Pick up your car. Are you ready to take that dream car home?
    • Remember your down payment, prequalified financing letter (if applicable) and insurance card.
    • You may also need proof of employment, residency and income.
    • Have a trade-in? Don’t forget the title, registration, keys, account information and owner’s manual.
Kelly Schaefer Hill
By Kelly Schaefer Hill, GM Financial

Soccer mom, corgi enthusiast, virtual learning teacher’s assistant, Kelly Schaefer Hill wears a lot of hats, but one thing she can’t stay away from is data and fun facts. When she’s not writing a post to answer your questions, she’s hanging with her family.


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