Buying A Car

Always shop around! Try to visit at least two dealers, and look at different cars.

Click the Links Below to find the section you are looking for!

Before You Buy

Understanding Your Car Loan

Understanding Your Car Payment

Before You Leave the Dealer


Be sure to:

  1. Take the car on a test drive.
  2. Check for damage to the car.
  3. Drive uphill to check engine power.
  4. Drive downhill to check the brakes.
  5. Test the heat, lights, A/C, locks, horn, wipers, windows, and radio.
  6. Look up reviews of the same car (year, make, and model).

Important questions to think about:

  • Will the car last as long as your loan?
  • Will the car need expensive repairs soon?
  • How expensive will it be to fill up the tank?
  • How many miles-per-gallon does it get?
  • How expensive will insurance be?

Make sure you can afford all the expenses for the car you are considering, such as:

  • Insurance
  • Oil changes
  • Mechanic work


If you go to the dealer looking for a loan, here is what to expect:

  1. First, you go to the dealer looking for a car.
  2. Then the dealer takes your information and asks what you are looking for in a car.
  3. The dealer shows you cars and sends your loan application to the banks.
  4. The banks approve or deny your loan application.
  5. If you are approved, the dealer has you sign a contract for the car purchase AND a contract for the loan.
    (There will probably be other documents you need to sign; read everything carefully!)
  6. If you accept the offer from the dealer and bank, you will sign the contracts and now own the car!

The Federal Truth in Lending Act:

The Truth in Lending Act (TILA) sets laws that lenders must follow when they make agreements for credit with customers. The law says that any agreement for credit, including car loans, must list:

  1. Creditor – Who is giving you the loan.
  2. Amount Financed – The total amount you are borrowing.
  3. The APR (Annual Percentage Rate) – the interest rate you are being charged for the loan.
  4. Finance Charge – How much you will end up paying in interest over the entire loan.
  5. Due Date – The date that your first payment is due, and the date by which you have to pay each month.

For more information and answers to questions on Auto Loans, click here!


There are three factors that affect your monthly payment:

  • Amount of the Loan
    (This is called the “principal” amount)
  • Length of the Loan
    (This is called the “term” of the loan)
  • Interest Rate
    (This is called the “APR”)

Monthly payments are based on the total amount of your loan, not just the sales price of the car.

The total amount of the loan will include:
+ The sales price of the car
+Title & Registration Fees
+ Sales Tax (if it applies)
+Doc Fee (max $495 in AZ)
+ Any Add-Ons (like toolboxes, wheels, or tires)

In Arizona, Tribal Members do not have to pay the Vehicle License Tax.
To get the Arizona Department of Transportation: Vehicle License Tax Tribal Exemption


Get signed copies of all agreements and contracts.

Make sure you get all agreements in writing before you leave! Some to look for:

  1. Purchase Contract
  2. Loan Agreement
  3. Title Transfer & Registration
  4. Warranty Agreement (if it applies)

If you do not get an agreement in writing, listing all the things you have agreed to, there is no official agreement!

If you pay with jewelry or crafts, make sure you get a receipt of payment!

Financing Red Flags

If a dealer does any of the following, leave right away:

  • Dealer asks you to sign a blank contract or come back later to sign.
  • Dealer says the sale is “subject to loan approval” or “pending approval” when you ask questions.
  • Dealer won’t give you a clear answer on the interest rate or the amount of the loan.
  • Dealer tells you the loan you agreed to “fell through” and tries to renegotiate.