The other night, one of my customers read the front and back of every form she signed. It was intense. I’m not suggesting people shouldn’t read what they sign, but the backs of the forms do take a long time to become informed on – they contain terms and conditions from the manufacturer’s finance department. So, if you don’t like what you see in that small print, it’s not as if Honda Finance, VW Finance, BMW Finance, etc. are going to allow you to make amendments to any of it.
So, what should you ask before signing on the bottom line?
First, you should confirm that everything that was discussed ahead of time is reflected in the agreement you’re about to sign. Auto loan agreements are actually pretty easy to read when you know what to look for. You’ll need to take your time to read, understand and change these items if necessary.
Remember, don’t just ask the questions. Make sure you confirm the answers with your own eyes on the contract.
Signing on the Bottom Line: Basic Information
On any finance, cash, or lease agreement, confirm the following:
Your personal information: Double-check that your name and address are correct.
Your Vehicle: Sometimes contracts list a basic model, but they always list the VIN and mileage for your particular vehicle. Make sure the VIN is for the exact car you agreed to purchase. Also, if you’re buying or leasing a new car, warranties take effect from the exact mileage your vehicle has already accrued, so make sure you’re not getting short-changed.
Selling Price: Make sure the selling price is the exact same as you’d agreed to. It shouldn’t suddenly be higher – for any reason. If it is, do NOT sign until this is corrected.
Extras: Unless you agreed to buy GAP insurance, extended warranty, paint and fabric protection, or alarms, the fields listing these items should be marked “NA” or “$0.” If extras are listed here that you didn’t agree to buy, do NOT sign until this is corrected.
Rate: If you’re financing, make sure your rate is exactly as you’d previously discussed. If the dealer told you 5% and it’s suddenly 5.49%, do NOT move forward until this is corrected.
Payment: You may think this is a small issue – but if the dealer told you your payment was $351 and the contract suddenly lists it as $351.82, this is not what was discussed. This can be a small trick to pick up a few extra dollars in profit ($0.82 x 60 months = $49 extra dealer profit.)
Term: Double-check the term. If you agreed to finance for 60 months, make sure the contract says so. This seems like a given, but sometimes people get so wrapped up in payments and multiple options that they fall prey to miscommunication.
So. That wasn’t so hard, right?
The next post will cover questions that car leasers should know before they commit to a few years with a borrowed car.