Category Archives: How To

How to prepare your car for sale

Whether you're ready to move on to bigger and better things or you just want to say goodbye to the clunker in general, selling your car can be a gratifying feeling. However, it's not as simple as parking it out front, throwing a "for sale" sign on the windshield and calling it a day. You're going to have to prepare the car for its new home. By getting your car in shape for top sale, you can help your customers get more bang for their buck, all while receiving a pretty penny to put on a down payment for your new ride.

Don't neglect your car before handing the keys over to a new owner. Instead, follow these tips for getting your car in top shape for sale.

1. Polish and detail
Before you take care of any maintenance issues, it's important to start by giving the looks some love. Forbes talked to a number of car experts and they all agreed that cleaning and detailing the car is the first step you should take to get it ready for point of sale. Ebay Motors Senior Manager Clayton Stanfield told Forbes it's a crucial yet easy task for prepping your car for a new owner.

"Invest in a thorough shampoo and vacuum job."

"Thoroughly cleaning your vehicle is absolutely crucial – it's one of the simplest things you can do," he said. "You want to make sure that your potential buyers are seeing your vehicle at its best."

Invest in a thorough shampoo and vacuum job – it'll be well worth it in the long run.

2. Do your research
After giving your ride the clean and polish it deserves, it's time to analyze the car's current performance.  Your next step in preparing your car for sale is to do your research. Find out your vehicle's value and check local listings to see what else is out on the market. Also, search sale history of similar vehicles in your area – this can give you a better idea of what to expect when selling your car in regard to profit and timeliness.

Also, if you've been good about taking care of your car, make sure to gather proof to share with the buyers.'s Keith Griffin told Forbes that this is a critical part of the research process.

"Service records are immensely important in a private sale to show prospective buyers that things have been taken care of at the right intervals," he said.

Taking care of your car all of those years can really reward you in the end if you've saved documentation.

3. Invest in last-minute repairs
Sure, you're ready to get rid of this car, but you're not going to sell it if you have outstanding damage that needs repairs. Whether it's noticeable scratches and chipped paint or the check engine light is on, the buyer is going to hesitate when it's time to make a deal. Carsguide suggested investing your time and dollars into making these repairs. Depending on the damage of the car, it might not even cost you much. Just take the car to the shop, get an estimate for the repairs and ask if it's worth it – a maintenance worker can give you great advice about your ride.

Repairing dents and scratches before putting it on the market could determine it's likeliness of selling.Repairing dents and scratches before putting it on the market could determine it's likeliness of selling.

4. Top off the fluids
According to Car Talk, it's in your best interest to top of all fluids before putting your car on the market. That means getting the oil changed and filling the brake and windshield fluids. This shows the buyer that you've been taking care of the car. It also suggests that you care about the buyer – who wants to see the oil light come on over the dashboard only days after buying a car?

If you've successfully sold your car and you're ready to start your search for a new vehicle, head to NJ Auto Auction. There, you'll find a lot full of inexpensive Carfax-certified used cars to choose from.

How to spot a lemon

Lemons seem to be on everyone's mind since Beyonce released her latest album album. However, in the car world, lemons are not as fierce as Queen B makes them out to be. In fact, buyers should be wary of dealers who try to sell them "lemons." Lemon cars are vehicles "that have a substantial defect covered by the warranty that occurred within a certain period of time or number of miles after you bought the car, and can not be fixed after a reasonable number of repair attempts," according to The source reported that about one percent of all the vehicles sold in the United States each year qualify as lemons. Though lemon cars aren't as big of a concern for buyers as they once were, people should still know how to spot them.

Do a thorough inspection 
Most people will be able to spot a questionable car immediately, but some damage is harder to catch. If you're buying a used car, do an inspection of the interior and exterior.

Interior – You should be wary of cars that smell of mold or mildew. This can be a sign of faulty window seals or past flooding. You should also check the dashboard system to ensure all the gauges work correctly. Frayed seatbelts and worn pedals are also signs of high mileage. 

Exterior – The paint job is a good indication that work has been done to the body of the car. If you notice mismatching or slightly varying paint, it can be a signal to you that the car required maintenance. Checking the tires, suspension and engine for signs of visible damage is also a smart idea.

By inspecting the car thoroughly and using your best judgement, you can lower your risk for getting stuck with a lemon.By inspecting the car thoroughly and using your best judgment, you can lower your risk of getting stuck with a lemon.

Conduct a car history report 
Even if your dealer isn't being honest with you, a car history report will be. Either request this from the seller or find one yourself online. These reports will inform you if your car has ever been involved in an accident or recall, undergone heavy maintenance or been repossessed. It will include information that a dealer may neglect to tell you if you don't ask outright. CarFax and Lemon Checks are two great websites for accessing vehicle history reports. 

Only buy from a reputable dealer 
The surest way to avoid purchasing a lemon is to work with a dealer that has an excellent service record. Take the time to carefully research different car sellers online. You can read customer reviews and compare competitors. The more research you do, the more comfortable you will feel knowing that you're working with someone trustworthy. 

No one wants to purchase a vehicle they love only to find out that they've been duped. Knowing how to spot lemon cars could prevent buyers from getting stuck with a useless ride. If for some reason you do end up with a lemon, the DMV has a full list of the Lemon Laws in every state.

5 tips for first-time car buyers

Buying your first car is an important milestone. There is a sense of pride and accomplishment that comes with this event. However, there can also be feelings of fear and hesitation. After all, you can't return a car a few days after you purchase it if it no longer pleases you. For that reason, first-time car buyers should keep the following tips in mind to assist them through the process:

1. Research is important  
Just like you wouldn't walk into the SATs without studying, you shouldn't walk onto a car lot without doing research. Fortunately for you, the internet has made vehicle research easier than ever. There are plenty of websites dedicated to helping you compare different models, and there are even sites that will help you determine your budget. 

2. Weigh your financing options 
With the exception of a very select group, few people have the amount of cash needed to buy a car outright. If you aren't one of these people, you'll need to decide how to finance your purchase. Keep in mind that if you don't have an established line of credit, it could be difficult to obtain a car loan. A co-signer can make this more feasible. Good dealerships will have a financing department to help you, as well.

3. Consider insurance rates 
While you might have a burning desire to buy that Porsche or BMW, the insurance rates on higher-end vehicles can be pricey. Make sure that you choose a car that will fit in your budget even after it's insured. Your financial advisor or an online budgeting tool will help you plan for this.  

Buying your first car is an exciting experience, especially when you make an informed purchase.Buying your first car is an exciting experience, especially when you make an informed purchase.

4. Don't skip the test drive 
No reputable dealer should ever ask you to make a car purchase without taking a test drive. This is your opportunity to make sure there is nothing obviously wrong with the car while driving. More importantly, a test drive will tell you if the vehicle is one that you will enjoy driving for years to come. 

5. Work with a reputable dealer 
Unfortunately, there are some car dealers who will try to take advantage of first-time car buyers. When choosing which dealership you want to work with, look for two qualities: transparency and reputation. In terms of transparency, the dealership should offer clear, concise contracts and helpful salespeople. The dealership you select should also have a proven track record of excellence. Read online reviews and talk to previous patrons to make sure they have impressed their other customers.

Get excited! You're thinking about buying your first car. While it's normal to feel some nervousness, hopefully this article made you feel more prepared. If you follow the advice above and do your research, you should find that the process is relatively smooth. 

For more car-buying advice or to shop for excellent used cars, visit the New Jersey State Auto Auction website today.

Questions to ask when buying a used car

Buying a car is serious business, and it can be an intimidating process. If you're considering purchasing a used car, things can get even trickier. Not all dealers have reputable sales methods. For this reason, it's important to understand the used car-buying process and ask the right questions. 

Is this car in my budget? 
The first step for any potential car buyer is to determine how much they can afford to spend. It's a smart idea to compile a list of cars you are interested in to get insurance quotes, check tax rates and compare payments. This will help you narrow down your list to vehicles that will fit comfortably in your predetermined budget. Remember that selecting a car you can't afford can lead to poor credit and other negative consequences. Consult with a financial advisor if you need help establishing a budget. 

Does it have a vehicle history report? 
Before you purchase a car, you should run a vehicle history report. All you need is the Vehicle Identification Number to determine if the purchase you are about to make it a good one. These reports will outline the vehicle's past ownership. The Department of Motor Vehicles also reports that these will also tell you if the car has ever had maintenance done, if there have ever been problems with the title, if there are any liens on the vehicle, if the car was ever involved in an accident and whether the car has ever been classified as a "lemon." A vehicle history report will ensure that the used vehicle you select will operate as you expect it to.

Asking these questions will help you get the best used car in your budget.Asking these questions will help you get the best used car in your budget.

Did I notice anything unusual in the test drive? 
The test drive is another important part of the car-buying process. It allows you to get behind the wheel of your desired car and see how it handles. A test drive will also alert potential buyers to any issues before a sale. During a test drive, you should be vigilant for any problems with performance. Your test drive doesn't end once you return to the car lot, though. You should open and close all doors, windows, the trunk and the hood to make sure that they operate properly. 

Am I getting this car for the best price? 
Everyone wants to make sure they are getting the best price when buying a car, but to guarantee this, you must do a little research. Online price guides will tell you how much the model year is worth, but it's up to you to negotiate the true value. If the car has had significant work done, it is usually smart to talk the price down. 

Buying your first used car may seem like an overwhelming experience. However, if you educate yourself and ask the right questions, you will find yourself in a much better position to purchase the used car of your dreams. 

To find used cars that are reliable and affordable, click here.

6 ways to lower your insurance costs

Even if you've found a used car that fits within your budget, there are a number of separate expenses you need to consider. Between licensing, registration, maintenance and fuel, you're going to be putting a lot of hard-earned cash into driving. Insurance is another cost you need to keep in mind, and it's one that varies by hundreds of dollars, according to the Insurance Information Institute.

While you can't avoid paying for insurance by any means, there are a number of ways you can lower the costs and save yourself some money. 

1. Do your research and shop around
Because each company provides a different price for car insurance, it's in your best interest to shop around. Taking the time to do research online, asking for referrals or even calling the company to discuss straight-forward prices can really cut back the expenses. Gather quotes from multiple companies and sit down and compare before making any decisions. You can also call your state insurance department for information – they might even be able to recall customer complaints for certain companies. Overall, doing your research before settling with an insurance company can really save you money – and headache – in the long-run.

2. Establish good credit
Maintaining a good credit score has a number of benefits – it lowers interest rates on loans, approves you for higher limits on credit cards and it even gets you better insurance rates, according to the Huffington Post. Many auto insurance companies use credit information as a platform to price auto insurance. Make it a point to establish and maintain a good credit score, and frequently check up on it to make sure there are no flaws in the information.

Check your credit score frequently to make sure your maintaining a good standing. Check your credit score frequently to make sure your maintaining a good standing.

3. Drive safely
This one may seem like a no-brainer, but it's a simple way to lower your insurance, according to Kelley Blue Book. People with clean driving records can often qualify for discounts, while those who drive recklessly and have been in more accidents see spikes in their insurance rates.

If you want to lessen the likelihood of an accident occurring, the source recommended driving less in general. Low mileage discounts are offered by most insurance companies, so consider carpooling with a family member or friend to work. This can save both of you miles and money.

4. Increase your deductible
By raising your deductible, you'll have to pay more out of pocket if an accident occurs. However, you could save anywhere between 15 and 40 percent in collision coverage costs if you increase your deductible by a few hundred dollars. It might seem like a large expense to begin with, but it's an excellent decision to make for long-term costs.

"Companies will help you save money if you're willing to combine policies."

5. Combine policies
If you already have homeowners insurance with a certain company, it's in your best interest to go through the same company for your auto insurance, according to Bankrate. If you go through a different one for each policy, you're bound to be paying higher expenses than you should. Insurance agent Art Scott told the source that companies are more likely to work with you to save money if you choose to combine policies with them.

"The more lines (of insurance that insurance companies) can get, the more they're willing to give discounts for it," he said.

6. Ask about discounts
There are so many different ways for drivers to get insurance discounts, according to III. Some companies offer lowered rates for drivers who have not been in accidents during a certain period of time. Others even offer discounted rates for drivers who have take a defensive driving course. If you've committed to a certain insurance company, dig deep to find out how you can save money with them as a policyholder.

Whether you're interested in buying a new used vehicle or you're searching for a car for a loved one, head to NJ Auto Auction, where you'll find a lot full of Carfax-certified rides to choose from.

Tips for examining a used car before making the purchase

First off, congratulations! You've decided to invest in your first car, and you're making a smart decision choosing a used vehicle that falls within your budget. While you've done extensive research to reach that conclusion, you shouldn't stop there. In fact, once you've made it to the dealership to look through the lot, a whole new analysis should begin before making any concrete decisions.

Don't make up your mind early because of that low price tag – there might be a reason or two that it's so inexpensive in the first place. Give this potential car a full exam before handing over a down payment:

Your first move should be to inspect the condition of the body of the car, according to Consumer Reports. Check for scratches, dents and rust from top to bottom. Then, make sure that the paint color is the same throughout the body. Once you've taken a good look at the cosmetics of the car, examine the glass. Are there any large cracks or pocketed areas? If you notice a small chip in the windshield, you should consider bargaining for a lowered price – the crack is bound to worsen and will likely end up costing a lot to repair.

"The average tire life lies between 25,000 and 50,000 miles."

The car's tires can make you think twice about the price if the wear and tear is tremendous. If the car has over 25,000 miles on it and it looks like the tires haven't been changed, you should negotiate. Kelley Blue Book reported that the average tire life lies between 25,000 and 50,000 miles, but it varies for each car. Who wants to buy a car and then take it to the shop a week later for new tires?

Once you've walked around the car, step into the driver's seat and take a look around. The Department of Motor Vehicles suggested checking out the seats before anything – are they damaged in any way? Do they all have functioning seat belts? Then make sure that every door – including the trunk – opens and closes without struggle. Your next test is simple – are any dashboard warning lights flashing? This could be a total deal breaker if the car salesman doesn't have an explanation.

If you notice the car has a very strong scent as soon as you open the door, it could mean two things: The car salesman was being extremely courteous or he was trying to cover up a bad scent. If the scent alarms you, you may want to ask about it – sure, he might have just been trying to spruce up the car to maximize your experience, but what if that's not the case? The last thing you want to do is buy a car that comes with a permanent funk.

The car's scent could be signify that the salesman was trying to cover something up.The car's scent could be signify that the salesman was trying to cover something up.

Test drive
Before you go in on buying a used car, it's crucial to take it for a test drive. This is especially important if your salesman doesn't suggest it – that could signify there's an issue that he doesn't want you to find before buying. Bankrate explained that while you'll want to focus on the way the car accelerates, parks, breaks and steers, it's especially important to make sure the used car doesn't make any strange sounds or vibrations as you drive. The best way to check for these issues is to take it on the highway and see how it drives above 60 miles per hour. Does the front end or steering wheel shake or vibrate? Can you hear any strange noises coming as you accelerate? How about the transmission – is it shifting smoothly? These are all valid questions that must be answered before making the big decision to buy.

Looking for a place with a variety of used cars to choose from? Head to NJ Auto Auction, where you'll find plenty of Carfax-certified cars that are ready to roll out after the test drive. The days of searching for a dealership with quality used vehicles are over – you've found the perfect place.

Car maintenance timeline: When should I service my car?

You know that taking proper care of your body keeps you healthy. That means fueling it with the right foods, spending enough time dedicated to fitness and dropping all of the bad habits that keep you from maximizing your overall health. Taking care of your car is quite similar – if you don't show it enough attention, it's bound it leave you stranded in the breakdown lane.

According to a 2015 survey conducted by the Car Care Council, about 84 percent of vehicles failed at least one inspection component, which shows drivers often neglect to take proper care of their ride.

Nobody wants to wait around for a tow truck to haul their car for an unexpected and expensive emergency operation. To keep small problems from turning into larger ones, it's important to put your car through routine maintenance services.

Don't let your car fall apart. Instead, follow this maintenance timeline so that you'll never fall behind in taking proper care of your vehicle.

Windshield wipers – 6 to 12 months
Driving with a clear line of vision is important, especially during a harsh downpour. That's why you need to make certain you're changing your windshield wipers when necessary. Real Simple magazine reported you need to do this every 6 to 12 months and it'll only cost you about $10 to $20.

Battery – every five years
Did you forget to turn off your lights when you went into the grocery store? No worries – you can just ask someone to give you a jump for a quick fix. However, that's not always going to be good enough. Make sure to replace your battery every five years.

Getting someone to jump your battery is a quick fix, but not a permanent one.Getting someone to jump your battery is a quick fix, but not a permanent one.

Oil – every 7,500 miles or more
You may have been told you need your oil changed every 3,000 miles – or every three months – but according to, that's simply not the case. Because of the advances in engine materials and improved quality of oil, manufactures recommend you change your oil every 7,500 to 10,000 miles. Check your owner's manual or contact the manufacturer of your vehicle for more information.

Brake pads – every 50,000 miles
As long as you're using your brakes properly – this means not riding them or slamming on them – Real Simple magazine noted that you only have to change your brake pads every 50,000 miles. The cost of this service generally ranges from $50 to $100 dollars depending on the wear.

"The average life of tires varies between 25,000 and 50,000 miles."

Tires – between 25,000 and 50,000 miles
According to Kelley Blue Book, the life of your tires depends on a number of different factors. This includes the type of car you have, how often you drive it and how well you take care of your tires. All tires are designed with tread, which is the pattern of grooves and ridges that increase car's traction on the road. Over time, the tread wears down, which ultimately results in needing to replace the tires. The source said the average life of most tires is between 25,000 and 50,000 miles, but it all depends on the type of wear they go through.

Engine air filter – varies
Every time you take your car in for a service checkup, ask the mechanic to check the air filter. He'll be able to help you determine if it needs to be replaced, because this is a service that varies from vehicle to vehicle. said some manufacturer's recommend the filter gets replaced every 45,000 miles, and others say 30,000 and 15,000. Ultimately, the maintenance worker will be able to tell if your filter needs changed by the amount of black residue trapped in it.

Check these elements on a frequent basis
There are a number of elements you should be checking on a frequent basis, according to the Car Care Council. Those include:

  • Dashboard lights – Never ignore these! If an indicator is lit, take your car to the auto shop
  • Lights – Keep an eye out for bulbs that need replaced
  • Windshield washer fluid – Keep the stuff in your trunk for easy refills
  • Tire Condition – Most cars will notify the driver if tire air pressure is low

Could your vehicle use a little TLC? Head over to NJ Auto Junction, where the mechanics will take great care of your car and make sure every service is up to date.

5 summer safety tips to pass along to your teen driver

Winter has come and gone, so it's likely that you're feeling better about your teen driver being out on the road. However, according to AAA, the period between Memorial Day and Labor Day is known as the "100 Deadliest Days" due to the heightened rate of teen deaths in car accidents. In fact, in 2013 alone, 371,645 people were injured and 2,927 were killed in car crashes that involved a teen behind the wheel.

The warmer weather of summer surely inspires more joy rides, and it's important that your teen takes precautionary measures when driving this season. The roads are going to be busier than usual, with traffic from normal 9-5ers, to vacation-goers and college kids traveling home from school. Pass these words of advice along to your teen driver to ensure he understands the importance of driving safely throughout the summertime.

1. Buckle up
Before your teen even starts the car, he should make it a habit to buckle his seatbelt. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease and Control Prevention, wearing a seatbelt can reduce the risk of death by 40 percent and serious injury by 50 percent for drivers and front-seat passengers. If you're still deciding on the perfect car for your teen, you may want to consider one that uses an alarm to notify the driver until he buckles up.

Your teen needs to understand the importance of buckling up before driving.Your teen needs to understand the importance of buckling up before driving.

2. Never text and drive
Did you know that over eight people are killed and 1,161 are injured in car crashes that involve a distracted driver every day? This involves anything that takes the mind, eyes, or hands away from concentrating on driving. The most common form of distraction is handling a smartphone or texting, so instill it in your teen's mind to never text and drive. Regardless of the conversation he may be having with his buddy, the text can wait. If it's too important to wait to talk about until later, he needs to pull over and handle it without risking his life.

3. Give your car proper maintenance
It's likely that your teen is going to play his favorite tunes to the highest volume while he drives, which means the chance of him missing signs that his car needs maintenance is pretty high. Therefore, you should always stress the importance of taking care of the car to your teen. Auto Trader reported that this means checking the tire pressure, getting the oil changed on a normal basis and looking out for any telling signs that the car needs a little extra TLC. If he doesn't show his car proper car, it won't be up and running much longer make sure he knows that!

"Convince your teen not to drive during inclement weather."

4. Don't drive when it's not necessary
When your teen starts driving, it's likely that he's going to want to be in that car every chance he gets. Regardless of if he has to be anywhere, he will find something to do so that he can go for a ride.

However, Consumer Reports suggested convincing your teen not to drive when it's not necessary to reduce the risk of being involved in an accident, especially during inclement weather. Let him know about the dangers of driving on slick, wet roads – sometimes, it could be worse than snow.

5. Never drink and drive
This may seem like an obvious one, but unless you stress the importance of not drinking and driving, your teen may not see it as such a big deal. Even though they are below the drinking age, teens have still reportedly been involved in fatal vehicle accidents that involved the consumption of alcohol. To keep this from happening, make it a point to have the discussion with your teen about drinking  and driving – let him know that he should call you if he doesn't think he can drive or he is in a situation with a friend who has been drinking. Being honest with your teen about the risks of drunk driving will make him feel more comfortable in opening up to you.

How to get your car ready for your road trip

Spring has finally arrived, and for some, that means it's time to enjoy a much needed vacation. But before you head out on the road with your best friends, you need to make sure your car is ready for the long haul. Did you know that April is National Car Care Month? Now is the perfect opportunity to show your vehicle some love and give it the much-needed attention you've been putting off for far too long.

It makes sense, though, because why would you bother getting anything done during the winter? You're just going to keep rolling over potholes and road salt until the ice and snow is gone, so what's the point? Well, unfortunately, if you wait too long to fix the damage winter caused, it could result in an unexpected break down on the side of the road. You don't want to spend that hard-earned cash you were saving for your trip on a tow truck, do you?

Don't neglect your car and cross your fingers that it makes it to your spring break destination. Instead, head to the shop and request the following maintenance services to maximize your safety during your road trip.

1. Get rid of that salt
First and foremost, you need to make sure your car drives and looks smooth. That means giving it a good cleaning and making sure all of that leftover salt from the icy roads is completely removed. Nothing screams "I've been neglecting my car" quite like remnants of winter, so show your car some love and get rid of it! Salt doesn't only make your car look dirty, it can also cause your ride's undercarriage some serious damage, according to Angie's List. Consider asking your maintenance man to give the bottom of your car a good clean and polish to get rid of any rust or salt.

"You should get your oil changed every 3,000 to 5,000 miles."

2. Change your oil and fluids
If your car hasn't had its oil changed in a while, now's the perfect time to take care of it. It's recommended that you get an oil change every 3,000 to 5,000 miles. Your oil isn't the only thing that needs changed, though. Flushing your transmission fluid is important, too, and it could keep you from paying a pretty penny on a damaged transmission, according to the information auto repair shop owner Scott McClure shared with Angie's List.

"It's one of the most neglected services," he says. "It's a very costly repair – between $2,200 and $4,200 – if you have to rebuild or repair [a transmission]."

3. Service your cooling system
If you're heading to a southern state for your spring break road trip, the temperature is bound to raise during your route. You'll probably go from wearing a jacket, to opening the windows and then suddenly finding yourself turning up the air conditioning as high as it lets you. You're not going to be the only one warming up, though. You car needs to stay cool, too, so take the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's advice and get your coolant levels checked. This is a great step to take to make sure your system is running smoothly. You may even want to consider getting it flushed and refilled. This can up the chances that your system is running at its best during your road trip.

Who wants to sit in road trip traffic on a hot day with a broken cooling system? Who wants to sit and wait for a tow truck because the engine overheated?

4. Check your wipers and lighting
They say April showers bring May flowers, so your chances of driving through a rainstorm are more than likely. To maximize your safety while driving through precipitation, the Car Care Council suggested making sure your lighting and wipers are working properly. Worn wiper blades and broken head lights can make driving through rainfall extremely dangerous, so take precautionary measures to make certain everything will run smooth.

5. Inspect your brakes
Angie's List reported that getting your brakes inspected might be the most important maintenance service steps you can take before heading out on a long road trip. Ask your maintenance technician to check the brake pads and rotors for you to ensure your car is safe to drive. If you fail to get them checked, you could find yourself smashed into someone's bumper on your way down to the beach.

Your car needs to be just as ready for this trip as you are, so stop by NJ Auto Auction where our mechanics will make sure your ride is safe enough for your road trip.

Watch out for these common car loan mistakes

You want a car, and you want it now. But the fact of the matter is, it's worth spending a little time considering your car financing options. On paper, a loan may seem like it will solve all of your problems, but if you don't read the fine print or be realistic about the terms you'll have to stick with, an auto loan can cause you even more financial stress.

Studies show that many people across the country are optimistically biting off more than they can chew. According to credit bureau Experian, in June 2015 the average length of new auto loans reached a record 67 months, or a little more than 5.5 years, reported USA Today. Some 29.5 percent of loans had terms between 73 and 84 months, which is also a record high and a jump from 24.9 percent the year prior.

loanDon't be shackled to a loan you can't pay.

Don't get stuck in a loan that seems to never end and that you can't afford. Fortunately, knowledge is power, so here are a few common car loan mistakes that you should watch out for.

Consider comprehensive costs
The amount of the monthly payments isn't the only thing you should pay attention to during the loan-negotiating process – you also need to factor in other costs like interest, noted Money Talks News. Failing to see the whole picture and little hidden costs causes many buyers to sign up for a loan that they really can't afford. The source recommended following the 20/4/10 rule when considering a loan plan. Your down payment should be at least 20 percent, you should agree to finance the car for a maximum of four years and monthly vehicle expenses – these include interest, insurance and principle – shouldn't be more than 10 percent of your gross income. By approaching a loan with this strategy, you can make sure the plan is more comfortably within your means.

Think about cheaper alternatives
Don't run from cheaper vehicles because they don't have the glitz and glamour of fancier late models – the important thing is that you need a car to get around, not show off, and besides, there are many stylish options that can still fit in your price range. If the car you're drooling over is only affordable for you if you pay it off over six or seven years, then you should probably readjust your expectations and go down a level on the price range you're searching in, explained Time magazine. Go back to basics and think about the most important features you need in your vehicle – a cheaper car with four-wheel drive in a snowy climate should win out over a late-model SUV with a built-in DVD player and surround sound system.

new carA fancy late-model vehicle looks nice, but the financing plan might not be as pleasant.

Get your add-ons elsewhere
When your making a final agreement on a car loan, it can be tempting to just say yes to every little add-on that seemed to worm its way in there, like paint sealant or an extended warranty. However, think carefully before giving the green light to these extras, since they can disproportionately inflate your loan payments, according to Bankrate. The source notes that a National Automobile Dealers Association study found that 37 percent of the average gross profits made in new and used car sales came from the finance and insurance office by way of "aftermarket add-ons." While there are good deals to be had with these add-ons, it's worth taking the time to research what the out-of-market price would be for each item, since sometimes you can find items priced at a discount compared to what they would be worth as part of your financing plan.