Vehicle shoppers should know that no magic is required to get a
car loan even when credit is tight. Instead, those who want to borrow money to buy a new vehicle "should continue to do their homework before heading to the (car) dealer," says AWARE, a nonprofit auto financing education group. The group, funded by the auto financing industry, says loans remain available for those who follow the proven routine. First, check your credit rating by obtaining your credit reports -- for no charge -- from www.annualcreditreport.com, a government-mandated site. Challenge errors on your reports, settle outstanding debts and build rationale for negative items. Obtaining your actual FICO score requires a payment at myfico.com. Quizzle.com offers a free score that is close but not identical to your FICO number. Next, determine how much you can afford as down and monthly payments. Finally, AWARE recommends shopping around for financing. To find the best deal, check with web sites like kbb.com, banks, credit unions, financing companies and auto dealers who have solid credit records.