Dear Driving for Dollars,
I'm getting ready to buy a car. How do I find the best auto loan rate in my area so I know I'm being treated fairly when I do the paperwork at the dealership?
Your question actually brings up two misconceptions that many people have about buying a car and obtaining a car loan. In reality, you do not need to get a car loan locally, and it does not need to be done through a car dealer. A car loan can be obtained through any lender, whether local to you or elsewhere in the country. Using Bankrate.com's rate comparison tool, you can access car loan rates online from lenders across the country that can help you get your auto loan.
You also may want to get an interest rate quote from any local lenders you do business with, such as banks or credit unions, to see where you can get the best deal.
Once you know what interest rate and car loan terms you qualify for, ask the dealership to work with the lender of your choosing when drawing up the paperwork.
You may want to ask the dealer to provide you rate quotes from its sources. That would typically include the lending arm of the auto manufacturer as well as other lenders you already may have quotes from, and then choose the best interest rate from there.